The Stronger the Government, the Weaker the Nation

by | Feb 14, 2024

The Stronger the Government, the Weaker the Nation

by | Feb 14, 2024

us president george w bush shares a laugh with memebers of congress as he signs the renewal of the usa patriot act at the white house in washington

For all of our lives, it has been the aim of most Americans to make the federal government stronger, especially with respect to the warfare state. The principal justification for an ever more powerful government is that it keeps the American people safe from the likes of terrorists, drug dealers, communists, illegal immigrants, Russians, Chinese, Iranians, North Koreans, and Muslims. Moreover, it is argued, a powerful military-intelligence establishment enables the U.S. government to violently police the world and thereby earn respect and credibility from foreign regimes.

What hardly anyone notices about this big-government shibboleth is the price that is paid for it: a weak nation.

For example, no one can deny that the American people, despite living under the most powerful government in history, are among the most frightened people in the world. This phenomenon was perfectly manifested after the 9/11 attacks, when most Americans eagerly and willingly traded away their freedom for the aura of “security.” Examples include the support for the USA Patriot Act, the TSA takeover of airports, the unconstitutional invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the torture center at Guantanamo Bay, the power to torture and assassinate American citizens, and the illegal telecom surveillance scheme.

But let’s first backtrack a bit. I’d venture to say that most Americans are convinced that the federal government and the nation are one and the same thing. When people use the pronouns “we” or “us” to describe the actions of the U.S. government, in their minds they are referring both to the U.S. government and the American people (that is, the nation). For example, “We need to be strong by invading and bombing that country. Otherwise, people won’t respect or fear us.” In the process, people manifest their courage vicariously through the actions of U.S. troops.

Actually, however, the U.S. government and the American people (the nation) are two separate and distinct entities. This phenomenon is perfectly reflected by the Bill of Rights, whose passage our ancestors insisted upon as a condition of approving the Constitution, the document that called the federal government into existence. The Bill of Rights expressly protects the American people from the federal government, implicitly establishing that the federal government and the American people (the nation) are two separate and distinct entities.

The ever-growing power of the federal government for the past 100 years has produced a weak nation in two major respects: economic and psychological.

The ever-growing federal government, especially the military-intelligence sector, has been a major factor in the out-of-control federal spending that is now threatening the federal government with national bankruptcy. Over the decades, there have been three ways the federal government has funded its operations, all of which have significantly weakened the nation: massive income taxation, debt, which now totals $34 trillion, and inflation, which, decade after decade, has debased the value of the official paper money that the American people are required by legal-tender laws to use as their medium of exchange. By reducing the amount of savings and private capital accumulation through massive taxation, debt, and inflation, the federal government has impoverished people and converted many of them into paycheck-to-paycheck serfs.

Even worse, however, has been the psychological mindset of dependency on the federal dole that the federal government has produced and nurtured within the American people. That’s really the main purpose of the federal welfare state — to place people in a politically narcotized state in which they become convinced that they would never survive without their dole. In that way, they are less equipped, psychologically, to oppose the actions of the federal government, especially those of the national-security establishment (the Pentagon, CIA, and NSA).

Consider Social Security and Medicare, the crown jewels of American socialism. The federal government uses its massive tax power to take money from younger people in order to transfer it to older people. Today, many older people are now psychologically convinced that they could not survive without this political narcotic. They are convinced that they would die in the streets without it. While many of them were willing to oppose the Vietnam War when they were young, they are unwilling to oppose the national-security establishment today for fear that their dole might be reduced or even terminated.

Yet, our 19th-century American ancestors lived without Social Security and Medicare and other socialism for more than 100 years. For that matter, they also lived without income taxation, a welfare state, a big, permanent military-intelligence establishment, and an inflation-producing Federal Reserve System. No one died in the streets as a result. Instead, the United States was the strongest, most prosperous nation in history precisely because it had the weakest government in history, one that lacked the power to plunder and loot the nation with massive spending, taxation, debt, and inflation.

When Americans were free to accumulate wealth, the result was an ever-increasing base of savings and productive capital, which sent the nation spiraling upward in economic strength. This unusual way of life also brought into existence the finest healthcare system in history, one in which healthcare costs were low and stable and where doctors treated the poor on a purely voluntary basis. It’s also worth mentioning that when people were free to accumulate unlimited amounts of wealth, the world witnessed the greatest outburst of voluntary charity that mankind has ever seen.

It’s obvious to me which system has proven to be better and what we need to do to get our nation back on the right track. Unfortunately, however, it’s difficult for a weak people — people who are frightened of their own shadows and deeply afraid of losing their dole — to overthrow a big and powerful government that has made them that way.

This article was originally featured at the Future of Freedom Foundation and is republished with permission.

About Jacob Hornberger

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

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