Governments, all governments, are established under God by the will of the people, although not necessarily all the people. They have specific and limited purposes. Governments cannot and should not try to do everything for everyone.
Democracies, in which each eligible voter selects their favored candidate for each office in a fair process, most visibly follow the will of the people. Dictatorships, however, also require popular support. Saddam Hussein used Sunni Baathists to place him in power and keep him there. As a result, he provided choice government positions to his loyal followers, favored friendly companies with government contracts, and then leaned on the recipients to keep their people in line. Simultaneously, Hussein ensured that Sunni Muslims, though a minority in Iraq, received more consistent electrical power, better services, and more opportunities than the majority Shia Muslims received. Had Hussein not cultivated powerful supporters, he would have fallen. A careful or even cursory study of Mao, Stalin, Hitler, Napoleon, and other dictators throughout time and space shows the same thing. No man is powerful enough to rule a nation alone; he must have help from the people to gain power and keep it.
Continue reading “The Purpose of Government”
Power of all types must be diffused throughout society, because no person or entity can be trusted with too much of it.
One of the most troubling realizations during the financial meltdown of 2008 was that some companies were “too big to fail”. Chrysler and General Motors were “too big to fail” because of their strategic importance to American industry and because of the thousands of jobs that would be lost if they collapsed. So they received billions in taxpayer money. Remarkably, Ford Motor Company, just as big, in the same industry, the same environment and also threatening thousands of jobs, did not need government assistance.
Big financial companies, including Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, Bear Sterns, Wachovia, American International Group, and others were also considered too big to fail. The fear was that if they failed, so much confidence would be lost in the financial system that markets would implode. As a result the Bush and later Obama administrations did some legal ledgermain to merge companies and sank hundreds of billions of dollars into these entities. Individual taxpayers, home owners and account holders got a shakedown. While the blame for the crisis belongs throughout our society, from greedy lenders to irresponsible borrowers, the pain hit us all, including many who never deserved it.
Continue reading “The Financial Crisis and the Concentration of Financial Power”