In the American experience, the people, organized within groups of free and independent states, contracted the general government into existence to create a federal union. Each state entered the union by way of a voluntary ratification process. It should have remained self-evident that the act of voluntarily entering into a contract remains severable, particularly when terms, causes, and conditions are listed, and the parties follow a due process.
Yet politics tends to amplify human failings, particularly when dealing with a monopoly on the use of force, coupled with the power to tax. Such an arrangement brings out the worst behavior and amplifies it at scale.
This is why campsites and wilderness recreation areas advise visitors to not feed the wildlife. It disrupts the natural order and creates unhealthy relationships. Just as wild animals become aggressive toward campers once habituated to being fed, so too do politicians and bureaucrats become hostile to anything that would deny their enjoyment of the monopoly on the use of force along and, most especially, the power to tax.
The US Constitution was intended to prevent this imbalance by making the general government dependent upon the member states for the primary use of force, embodied in the militia of the several states. Then, further, limiting the power to tax by, first, limiting the spending power to only the enumerated functions delegated to it and, second, by mandating that all tax collection be uniform throughout the federation.
Unfortunately, the theory of limited government running, on its own as a separate entity, is flawed. It can never work in practice.
Limited government cannot work so long as those holding public office enjoy a monopoly on the use of force, coupled with the power to tax. In short, a free society cannot tolerate a monopoly state.
Similarly, the right to keep and bear arms, or any other class of property, will never be safe so long as the political caste enjoys legal privileges that indulge their voracious appetites for other people’s property.
Remember, human desires are limitless yet the resources available for immediate use are finite. Granting, or tolerating, political structures that enable unchecked authority and unbridled access to other people’s resources is a recipe for impoverishment and tyranny.
There are no limits to the excuses politicians and bureaucrats can come up with to justify spending other people’s money. There are entire industries of think tanks, contractors, and tax-funded university departments dedicated to publishing such justifications under the veneer of science.
It is all part of the widespread propaganda efforts used to lull the tax-paying public into believing that such spending in both necessary and for their own good. It is designed to conceal the concentrated benefits going to the political caste and the dispersed costs imposed upon the public.
Also, it doesn’t matter what the tax rates are or what the amount of government debt is. Government spending is the real tax. Those wielding governmental authority get to enjoy the benefits of spending other people’s money from the public treasury in the present without concern for the opportunities sacrificed by the tax-payers, in the past or into the future.
The temptation to wield this spending power is highly alluring. It attracts the ambitious, the ruthless, and the corrupt. Even those that start out with compassionate or altruistic ideals will engage in merciless behavior in order to control the levers of state power.
Once addicted to such unnatural power and, more importantly, the feeling of control over resources, the politico-bureaucratic caste will stop at nothing to perpetuate the system that feeds them. While always framing their activities as being for the ‘good of the people’, the primary concern is the imposition of their plans, at other people’s expense.
Awareness of this propensity is not new. Adam Smith described people “of system” as being so “enamored with the supposed beauty” of “their ideal plan of government” that “they cannot suffer the slightest deviation from any part of it”.
It is when intolerance for individual liberty meets resistance to central economic planning that even the most altruistic political actors turn into humanitarians with guillotines, as the great Isabel Paterson labelled them. Most of the mass atrocities throughout history began with the intention of “doing good to the nation”.
Yet, as good political economists we must always bear in mind that “doing good” through state power always involves spending from the public treasury and, absent the access to this pool of resources, such ideologues would need to persuade others to fund their plans voluntarily. That requires skills, attributes, and authentic value propositions that most of the politico-bureaucratic caste do not possess, nor have the patience to develop.
Therefore, they prefer making the tax-paying public offers that they cannot refuse from behind the ‘guns of government’.
Further, anyone that declines to go along with the central plans of the power elite must be discredited, coerced into compliance, or eliminated. Those who derive their status through political means champion the legitimacy of a monopoly state for the very fact the arrangement carries with ultimate power to use of force in a given territory.
Since, by definition, there can only be one monopoly, all credible challengers to that plenipotentiary status must be subdued. Anything, and anyone, that would exercise an option to ignore or counter the central plan of the monopoly power cannot be tolerated.
Therefore, any institutional structures that decentralize power must be also discredited, subsumed, or eliminated. This is why the very notion of a monopoly state is a recipe for conflict as well as threat to liberty, a source of immiseration, and the fundamental genesis all gun control.
All efforts to restore federalism will be initially undermined by the vast tapestry of elements beholden to the monopoly state and those aligned with central economic planning at the expense of personal as well as public liberty. The practical means by which federalism is put into operation, namely executing the laws, repelling invasion, and suppressing insurrections against constitutional order by way of an armed, organized, and disciplined population, will also be discredited. This is exactly why the word “militia” has been thoroughly vilified by the mockingbird media and public show trials.
Since the politico-bureaucratic caste is beholden to the status quo it is highly unlikely that anyone inside the establishment will champion a revitalization of militia-based security and justice institutions, at least not initially. This leaves We The People relegated to rebuilding the structures of self-government through informal or unofficial methods.
Again, those that derive the status, power, and sustenance through the existing monopoly state have a vested interest in stymieing anything that would alter or impede their gravy train. It should be fully expected that any nascent, grass-roots, or informal liberty movement, despite the design to execute the law and restore constitutional order, will be infiltrated by statist operatives and goaded into unskillful actions by agents provocateur.