A few Basic Premises

“All government, in its essence, is organized exploitation, and in virtually all of its existing forms it is the implacable enemy of every industrious and well-disposed man.” ~ H.L. Mencken

A fellow, Charley Reese, who wrote for the newspaper in my town for years (he is no longer with us) once gave some of his basic premises that informed his view of the world and hence his journalism. He was a conservative in many ways but in many ways he did not exactly fit the conservative mold. His words on his basic premises:

What follows are a few of the basic premises on which I base my thinking. You might or might not agree with them, but may I suggest that you make a list of your own basic premises. It will help you clarify your thinking.

1) Government is inherently incompetent, and no matter what task it is assigned, it will do it in the most expensive and inefficient way possible.

2) The American government is corrupt from top to bottom.

3) If you rely on the mass media to inform you about your community, state and nation, you will, with rare exceptions, be woefully ignorant of what is really going on.

4) The universal franchise is a bad idea. The notion that the destiny of the nation should be put in the hands of ignoramuses, parasites, boobs, party hacks and idiots is absurd on its face.

5) Public education in America is a failure and is so flawed it cannot be reformed.

6) Not much has changed in the past 5,000 years of human history.

All of that might sound cynical, but it really isn’t. True conservatives have argued for years that government, even a benign one, is like a clumsy, retarded giant, and therefore you have to be careful to limit what tasks you assign it.

That list is not a bad one for a journalist or even for an American conservative. I have always had an internal list that not all that different from the list that Mr. Reese used in his writing career. My list starts with the non-aggression principle and hence my view of government is far darker and even more critical/cynical than the above list. But for the sake of discussion with your friends who still believe in the “political process” the above list is a good point to start discussions.

Number one and two in the list go together and finding examples of waste, fraud, corruption, bribery, favoritism, and outright stupidity in government is child’s play. That should be a middle school research project in every school. Item number three in his list about the sorry state of the main stream media is also obvious. Most people I know use alternate news sites on the net to counter the big corporate news organizations.

The universal franchise is indeed a bad idea as many people vote who have no real clue what the issues or where the candidates really stand. Of course, I am not a fan of democracy anyway so keep that in mind, but “public opinion” is often manipulated by powerful propaganda forces and the fact the public schools (#5) are a total failure makes it even worse.

The last one in Mr. Reese’s list might be controversial. Nothing much has changed in the last 5,000 years? Our technology has certainly changed and we have introduced Nation-States to dominate us, but humans and human nature remain the same. The ideas that Ludwig von Mises uses in Human Action to explain why people act as they do works for men thousands of years ago, today, tomorrow, or even a thousand years hence. Perhaps Charley should have said nothing much important has changed for human nature in thousands of years.

So what is your list of basic premises? Does it change over time as experience informs your view of the world? Do you start with the basic idea that no man or group should use aggression on any other man?


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