The Laws of Government by Warren Michelsen

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This page last updated:
2015-07-07 10:07 MST


The (natural) Laws Of Government

See the author's comments at the end.

The First Law Government expands. Government will continue expanding, unless acted upon by an external force.

First corollary: Government will spend all the revenue given to it, and then some.

Second corollary: There is nothing that government thinks itself incapable of doing competently.

Third corollary: There is nothing that government believes it is not empowered and authorized to do. It sees no practical limit to its meddling.

Fourth corollary: You can't have government without politics. You can't have politics without pork. You can't have politics without influence buyers and peddlers.

Fifth corollary: Government will violate all of your rights, if you permit it.

The Second Law The more high-minded the title of a piece of legislation sounds, the less likely it is that the legislation will actually accomplish anything worthwhile.

First corollary: Be especially wary of any bill with "equal," "fair" or any derivative thereof in its title.

Second corollary: if the legislation has broad, bipartisan support, it's even worse than you thought.

The Third Law When the government starts talking about reform, you can be sure things are about to get worse.

First corollary: Government created the problem in the first place and now it's trying to clean up its mess.

The Fourth Law Bureaucrats and so-called Public Servants are just as concerned about their job security as you are about yours. Rare is the bureaucrat who ever worked himself out of a job.

First corollary: Every government degrades to the point where perpetuating its assorted bureaucracies becomes more important than serving the needs of, or protecting the rights of citizens.

Second corollary: Each government bureaucracy seeks to expand its purview. ("Mission Creep")

The Fifth Law Government will be motivated by expediency rather than principle.

First corollary: Lots of lip service will be paid to high-minded principles, even as government violates your rights.

Second corollary: Promises made by government are good, at best, only until the next election. You were promised that the law would only go this far, and at first, that's what it did. Within a few years, it was expanded until it encroached into areas you'd been promised it would never touch.

Third corollary: A politician's first priority is to be reelected. He will best serve that constituency which makes reelection more likely.

The Sixth Law Government can't help. Government has one legitimate function — to ensure the equal protection of the laws for all citizens. Once government ventures beyond this single duty, it can only do (overall) harm through side-effects, lost opportunities and unintended consequences.

First corollary: Most of the time, government gets it exactly backwards. Legislation designed to help the poor is as likely to hurt them as to help. While any given law may benefit the targeted individuals in exactly the manner intended, the unintended consequences will result in overall harm to those beneficiaries as well as society in general.

Second corollary: When the inevitable results of their harmful policies manifest themselves, government will blame the free market, bankers, Wall Street, foreigners — anything but their own disastrous policies.

Third Corollary: Once their previous policies have failed, government will respond with yet more interference in the area it has previously disrupted.

The Seventh Law Politicians value perception over reality. They don't care if a policy is actually destructive as long as public opinion holds that it's beneficial. Perception is reality to politicians. Perceptions get them elected.
The Eighth Law A typical government solution to any problem involves imposing more restrictions. Rare is the law which increases your freedom and / or options (or costs the taxpayers less).

First corollary: When government starts talking about doing more for you, they're talking about taking more of your money.

Second corollary: Your time has no value to government functionaries. You will be required to fill out forms, keep records, stand in lines and waste your time in countless ways to prove that you are in compliance with the demands made upon you.

The Ninth Law Every government program creates opportunities for abuse.

First corollary: For every needy, deserving person some program will help, there are many more just trying to figure out how to milk the program for all it's worth.

Second corollary: The bigger the budget, the more abusers it will attract.

The Tenth Law Government is men with guns. All laws have to be enforced. At some point, enforcement involves men with guns. When opining, "There ought to be a law," ask yourself, "Is this important enough to send men with guns to enforce?"

I designate the foregoing as "laws" because, like the "Law of Gravity" or the "Law of Supply and Demand," these laws describe how the world works. They are natural laws. Just as Newton observed gravity at work to learn its nature, so too can we learn the nature of government by watching what it does. These laws are the result of decades of careful observation. They were empirically derived.

These laws are immutable truisms. There are people who believe that government doesn't have to behave as described and wouldn't, if only we can get the "right people" in charge. Baloney. Gravity acts like gravity and government acts like government. To raise something up in defiance of gravity requires application of force. Likewise, to prevent government acting in accordance with its nature, we, the people, must be the "external force" which acts upon government to constrain it. See the first law.

You may not "believe in" these laws but that's OK. You don't have to. You don't have to believe in gravity either, but it will still land you on your keister when you lose your balance.


The Laws of Government and this web site are © 1990-2011 by Warren Michelsen