Monday, August 17, 2009

On Good Governance

In "That government is best which protects individual rights" (Grand Junction Free Press, Monday, August 17, 2009), Linn and Ari Armstrong say:
You just don't like government. That's what a friend told your elder author Linn following a local political event, during an informal discussion about which candidates are running and who is supporting them.

It's an odd sort of charge, given that Linn once ran for elected office himself and has participated in numerous campaigns and political functions.

The fact is we love government, if it's the right sort of government. But not all governments are created equal. Who loves the oppressive governments of North Korea or Iran? What about the fallen government of the Soviet Union? There is no greater evil on the face of the earth than a government gone wrong.

The question, then, is what constitutes good government. That depends primarily on what is the proper purpose of government.

We disagree with Henry David Thoreau when he writes, “That government is best which governs not at all.” We answer that government is best which protects individual rights.

Fortunately for us, our forefathers created a republican form of government with strictly delimited powers and an explicit recognition of individual rights. The obvious exception, slavery, took another century to expunge, and racist laws took longer to root out, but finally in this respect America lived up to her founding principles.

Milton Friedman explained, “Adam Smith's key insight was that both parties to an exchange can benefit and that, so long as cooperation is strictly voluntary, no exchange will take place unless both parties do benefit. No external force, no coercion, no violation of freedom is necessary to produce cooperation among individuals all of whom can benefit.”
Good article; recommended reading.