The Limits of Power

Can we find any limits to the power of the central government? With the Obama administration claiming the right to imprison or kill anyone on the planet without any charge or trial it would be great to find some upper limit on the power of the US empire. I believe that there are two important limits on the empire: public ideology and the laws of economics.

Public Ideology:

It has been claimed that public opinion is one limit on a ruling regime’s power. Political theorist Franz Oppenheimer, Rothbard, Hoppe, and others have written that all forms of government must have the support of the majority of the citizens. The government must have social legitimacy which I wrote about a few days ago in “The Evil Minions of the State”.  I pointed out that the government operates with the support or at least acquiescence of the majority of the people. It is for this reason that the government and all its minions must create a public ideology. We might call this “public opinion” for shorthand. It is the need to control this public opinion that forces governments to control the education system, manage the press, use censorship, use propaganda, and any other methods available to control what the man in the street thinks.

For these reasons and more, the ruling class was upset and fearful of Dr. Ron Paul’s run for the nomination of the GOP. His campaign was about educating the masses on the FED, economics, foreign policy and many other issues. He told the public the truth and that upset the rulers exactly because the truth will shatter the controlling public ideology that they have built up over decades.

Many libertarians have pointed out that constitutions cannot limit or constrain a government. It is the government itself that interprets and enforces the constitution so the government will, in the end, do as it damn well pleases. It our country we see all sorts of unconstitutional acts by the central government from the “drug war”, to welfare for those who will not work, to welfare for corporations. Ultimately the real issue is the understanding of the Constitution in the hearts and minds of the people: the public ideology. If the majority of the people come to understand the great fraud that is their government, then great changes will come to pass.


The second limit on the power of the central government is the immutable laws of economics. Ron Paul exposed the role of the Federal Reserve in his campaign. The FED is the centerpiece of the ruler’s power to finance both war and welfare. The FED does this by counterfeiting money which impoverishes the common man. Once the FED was looked upon with great respect and deference but now that Dr. Paul has exposed their role in stealing the public’s wealth it has become one of the least trusted agencies in government. That is real change. More importantly, it used to be that anyone who even questioned the FED was accused of being outside the sphere of respectable opinion — a kook. Now it is respectable to question the FED and that, my friends, is a major advance.

The laws of economics tell us that all interventions into the free market will cause the people to be less well off than they would have been if the markets were freed from government interventions. The US empire has become ever more controlling to the point that only a term like crony-capitalism or corporatism can describe our economic system. This means that the nation will produce less and less and become poorer and poorer just as the ruler’s as outspending the entire world combined on war and security.

The FED is “printing money” (it is really electronic these days and more complicated) at a rate that would have astonished even the central bankers of ’20s Germany and we are headed to the same choice they had: hyper-inflation or default.

The very nature of government is contrary to the well being of mankind as many have observed over the centuries. Rothbard pointed out that governments always subtract from the wealth of a people and never add to it.

The great German sociologist Franz Oppenheimer pointed out that there are two mutually exclusive ways of acquiring wealth; one, the above way of production and exchange, he called the “economic means.” The other way is simpler in that it does not require productivity; it is the way of seizure of another’s goods or services by the use of force and violence. This is the method of one-sided confiscation, of theft of the property of others. This is the method which Oppenheimer termed “the political means” to wealth. It should be clear that the peaceful use of reason and energy in production is the “natural” path for man: the means for his survival and prosperity on this earth. It should be equally clear that the coercive, exploitative means is contrary to natural law; it is parasitic, for instead of adding to production, it subtracts from it. The “political means” siphons production off to a parasitic and destructive individual or group; and this siphoning not only subtracts from the number producing, but also lowers the producer’s incentive to produce beyond his own subsistence. In the long run, the robber destroys his own subsistence by dwindling or eliminating the source of his own supply. But not only that; even in the short-run, the predator is acting contrary to his own true nature as a man.


The two limits discussed here played decisive roles in the collapse of the Soviet Union. The people of the USSR had a joke that went something like this: “they pretend to pay us and we pretend to work”. Our empire is headed toward the same collapse and those who love liberty need to be working diligently to educate the masses on why the collapse is coming and what needs to be done after the collapse.



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