My Own Pie

Libertarian Thoughts from Renaissance Guy

For Your Own Good

with 6 comments

     More and more, we hear that our government leaders are enacting laws and policies for our own good.  We must use corn as fuel, we must switch to low-energy light bulbs, we must stop eating unsaturated fats, we must depend on government bailouts and government-funded health insurance.  The list is getting longer all the time. 

     C. S. Lewis had a low opinion of benevolent governments:

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience” (”The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment,” in God in the Dock).

     One thing that Lewis does not seem to understand is that robber barons flouish in a system of government support for their businesses.  Through the granting of licenses, the regulation of new businesses, subsidies, and tax policies, governments can uphold their favorite companies and block competitors.  They say that they do it for our good, but they really do it to support their own political careers.

     In an ideal state, we would not have to choose between robber barons or do-gooder tyrants.  Neither one could gain power over us.


Written by ambrosianideas

August 22, 2010 at 6:15 am

Posted in State, Tyrrany

6 Responses

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  1. Yes, in the grand battle between elites of business and government, the two sides realized they could do better in cahoots, giving the public bread and circuses. However, the ship of cards they’ve built has started to fall, and I’m not at all sure what that means.

    Scott Erb

    August 23, 2010 at 3:14 am

  2. I meant “house of cards.” Or maybe it should be “ship of fools.”

    Scott Erb

    August 23, 2010 at 3:16 am

  3. I left both comments, because I think both metaphors work.


    August 23, 2010 at 4:40 am

  4. Great quote, I will have to file that away for future use.

    American Elephant

    September 1, 2010 at 8:08 am

  5. I have been thinking a lot lately about how self-styled “progressives” do not want freedom and the responsibility that comes with it, they loathe the founding principles of this nation, which is why they are trying to “progress” beyond them. “Fundamental change” is how Obama refers to it. What they truly want is a benevolent dictator, to whom they are more than happy to abdicate all their personal power, for the promise that they will be taken care of. But of course you cannot both be free and be taken care of. They are mutually exclusive. The more someone else is responsible for taking care of you, the less free you are. It brings to mind the Benjamin Franklin quote that so-called “progressives” misused so often over the past 8 years, “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” Progressives now, and historically are willing to give up the entire free market for “guarantees” that they will be taken care of — guarantees which, as Democrats plunge the nation towards bankruptcy, aren’t worth the paper they are written on.

    American Elephant

    September 1, 2010 at 8:25 am

  6. Well, I’m progressive, I believe we are individually responsible for our lives and the choices we make, I do not want a benevolent dictator, and am not willing to give up principles for security (something I think we did after 9-11). I also note that during the Reagan and Bush the Younger administrations we ran up large debt during a boom, while Obama’s deficits are in an effort to stimulate a recovery during a recession. Yet ultimately you are right that the debt is dangerous — but if we hadn’t run up massive debt during booms in the 80s and 00s, we’d be in a better position. I see the economic problems clearly in these four charts:

    I do agree that Democrats have been too quick to spend money to solve problems when more creative and fiscally responsible ways should have been found. So have Republicans. I think each side demonizing the other side is silly — we need to move beyond childish games and really work together to find solutions. Neither party can do it alone, the other will always be able to block whoever has power. They have to find a way to work together at some level.

    Scott Erb

    September 6, 2010 at 3:04 pm

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