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Government explained to an alien

This is good, because it shows how reasonable most people consider their government’s existence and demands to be – and because it shows how misled those people are. (I have put this under the Humour category, but I find it rather depressing. Those who can be emotionally detached about these things may laugh, though.)

Video via Richard Nikoley

6 comments to Government explained to an alien

  • This is all very good criticism, as was the criticism by Robert Higgs (definitely a very good guy on the whole) of democracy back in October 2009 that I challenge here at The Beacon.

    Though this nice little cartoon video and Robert Higg’s posting are somewhat different in their attacks on government and democracy, there is a vast amount of commonality in my defence, so I’ll repeat a few bits.

    I refute [Robbert Higg's] attack. Government (some government) is essential in practice. This covers defence of the territory, maintenance of law and order and the establishment and maintenance of reasonably stable money currency. The authority for these things, and taxation to fund them, comes not from democracy but from the need for such (minimalist) government. Monarchies and dictatorships, no less than democracy, are justified in providing these things and raising the taxes necessary to provide them.

    Moving on, there are, of course, many beyond these minimal things that are often (even usually) provided by government: state education and various welfare provisions in particular. … There are other provisions by government, such as public roads, emergency hospitals, refuse collection, water, sewerage, mains electricity, either directly or through licensing a modest number of suppliers through government-sponsored monopoly or other protectionist and restrictive legislation.

    With democracy, there is a more legitimate means than with monarchy, dictatorship, etc in deciding what government should and should not do. The problem, IMHO, comes from the structure of democracy as we currently have it, though it is somewhat different in our various countries.

    The problem arises from the single policy of universal adult franchise. This is compounded by the normal process of ambition – and its typical outcome: empire building.

    Every voter is given equal strength in elections, irrespective of their contribution to the economy particularly, and to society in general. For the majority of people, given the right to vote for benefits (to be provided by government) without having to pay for them (because the better-off will do that), what (or who) would you vote for. Yes, of course: you would vote for the party that offers the most government benefit, and so we have government that offers the most benefit to the most people. This has been a creeping ill, with gradually increasing taxation and government spending representing mostly an ever-increasing proportion of GDP. However, each step of this increase is dangerous for government, and so the process must be a gradual one, spread over decades.

    My general theme is that it is not good enough just to criticise what we have. We need something that is better (no dispute), but we need to define that which is (very likely to be) better. Only by comparing a firmly proposed substitute with what we currently have, can we know we are not jumping from the frying pan into the fire.

    Anarcho-libertarianism (and even minarchism) does not do it for me, though significantly less government (and much more localism for the government that is left) is clearly a step in the right direction. But going too far has dangers of similar magnitude (though different in nature) to not going far enough.

    The problem of our current system of electoral franchise is that it favours mostly those with various combinations of too short-term a view and too much credulity.

    Best regards

  • When it comes to explaining the government, and space aliens, I think I prefer Citizen Kang.

    We must move forward, not backward; upward, not forward; and always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom!

  • chuck

    I think the video maker needs to spend more time with flies, fleas, and bedbugs in order to acquire a more grounded outlook on life and nature.

  • Derek Buxton

    Whilst the criticism is valid in some respects, nevertheless we are in the grip of a tyranny. We cannot pick our MP, the party does it on their own and as we see this results in yes men running the country. This subverts the whole idea of democracy. We have three parties with very little difference between them, all EU lovers, green fascists, all looking after their interests. Not one is looking to the interests of Country or it’s People.

  • When it comes to explaining the government, and space aliens, I think I prefer Citizen Kang.

    I am quite fond of the “Take me to your lizard” sketch, from Douglas Adams’ “So Long and thanks for all the fish”, myself.

  • 'Nuke' Gray

    Nigel, have you thought that governments can be time-shared? I think we should convert shires and counties into Cantons, Swiss-style, and then all who want to be voting citizens have to perform some acts of community service (road patrol, fire brigade, local militia, etc.) for 11 months of the year, and then, for one month (rotating), 1/12th of all the citizens would get together and be the government. Those who had been the longest-serving citizens could become the local Council, who would co-ordinate with other cantons, arrange fetes and contests, and perform all other functions of government. Perhaps there could be 12 councillors, one from each month, who are permanent.
    If we need a civil service, they could be picked from the winners of those contests.
    And, in accordance with my libertarian principles, public bodies should only rule over public properties, like roads, town halls, public parks, and so on. Private property should be private.