Government is defended almost universally as a necessary social institution. However, there are groups of people who argue that those defending the establishment of government have an idealized image of what that government will be and how it will function. They argue that theory would tell us without any application at all – although history has shown us by corroborating theory – that government cannot be held in check, in other words, that limited government is impossible. Why?
A monopoly is an organization that can raise prices while the value of the good or service they provide goes down because there is no competition. Government is a monopoly of justice and protection. Here we find no exception, once a government is established, i.e. it has banned free-entry into the marketplace of production of defense and judicial arbitration by deeming itself the lawful overlord of the land and its inhabitants, “the price of protection and justice will rise and their quality will fall,” according to Hans Hermann-Hoppe. Complicating matters is the fact that protection is not a fixed good, but a service with infinitely varying degrees of which no one can say how much is necessary. Should the government provide every town with its own policeman? Or every block with a policeman? Or every block with ten policemen? You get the idea. The government does not have a rational way to make these allocations and cares very little if at all that it may be wasteful and provide terrible service, because it is funded by tax money and by its own rules bars any other organization that may provide better service from competing with it.
Imagine a security agency proposes a contract wherein you agree that they can take from your paycheck any amount they deem necessary to perform their function (provide protection), and that the only way out of this contract is to move. Would you agree to any such service? This is what any government would tell us we were born into. We are born without the right of nullification, that is, some social contract is assumed to be implicitly agreed upon by everyone born in that area of the world, and the only way out, is to physically move to live somewhere else. This is one reason Thomas Jefferson wrote: “Every constitution then, and every law, naturally expires at the end of 19 years. If it be enforced longer, it is an act of force, and not of right.” 19 years is the figure indicated by the “European tables of mortality” in Jefferson’s time showing that 19 years from any given day, the majority of the population alive that day, will be dead, hence a new generation.
What’s worse is that a government can decide entirely independently of you to eliminate this final resort option of moving by deeming it illegal and that you are to be stopped by violent force if you dare attempt to emigrate! One example is the case of East Germans fleeing to the West at such a high rate during the 1950s that the Berlin Wall was built (starting in 1961). But that was the Soviet Union directing such oppression, and certainly a constitutionally limited government (our founding fathers’ great achievement) could never let this happen. The phrase “constitutionally limited government” is an oxymoron. In such an establishment, who decides what the government can and cannot do? The government! The judicial branch, itself part of the government, decides what the other branches can and cannot do.
It is important to recognize these are not trivial complaints one might remark if driving on a road with many potholes such as, “this road sucks; what am I paying taxes for?” These three criticisms -the predictable deterioration in quality of justice and protection while price rises (taxes serve as the price tag), the fantasy of tacit consent of those born under the current regime who had no say and may well continue to have no say in its operations, and that a government is the judge in its own case- apply to any form of government because of its very nature. That is why everyone should think about government.