Why Governments Fail

When governments fail — and they do so with predictable regularity — nations fail. But why do governments fail? That’s because humans constitute the government, and humans by nature are myopic, greedy, ignorant, egotistic, and stupid. Those flaws, generally present in modest measures in all of us, get exaggerated in people who wield power. People in government can be relied upon to be the worst exemplars of the human race. The greater the power, the lower on the humanity scale a person is likely to be. As Lord Acton said, “Great men are almost always bad men.”[1]

The basic problem is that for the government to do its job, whatever that may be, it has to have power. That power attracts the most power-hungry, anyway. But even if by some chance, someone with little ambition does get in a position of authority, that authority itself frequently corrupts the person.

So there’s the bind: government has to have power; power attracts the worst kind of people; these people are usually not wise and are corrupt; they end up destroying the nation through poor governance. The slogan is “Minimum government, maximum governance.” And the reality is “Maximize government, minimize governance.”

Solution: limit the role of the government, and keep it small so that those in government have very little power. That is, limit the role of the state.

In the next few posts, I will explore this topic of why government must be severely limited. For now, here’s a bit from an entry from 2008: Of Kakistocracies, Principals and Agents. Continue reading “Why Governments Fail”