We the Ruled
Michael S. Rozeff
by Michael S. Rozeff: A
Sound Jobs Plan: 'Pull' the Federal Government
laws direct all those within its jurisdiction. They go further.
They presume to "speak" for those under control: to say
what is right and wrong, to say that this is what you shall do and
shall not do, and to say what you may do and what you may not do.
Still more, they say that this is what will be taken from you and
what will be given to you.
is a great power, and we can expect that those in government are
going to use it to advance their own interests. To some extent,
law-makers attend to some complex mixture of our individual interests,
but the reflection of what each of us wants as mirrored in the laws
they produce is a highly distorted, usually unrecognizable, image.
For all practical purposes, their interests are not "our"
let’s distinguish them the lawmakers from us the law-takers.
speak of "price-takers". This is a person or company that,
in making an exchange, is not influential enough to affect prices.
I propose a similar concept in political matters. A "law-taker"
is a person or company not influential enough to affect laws.
Most of us
ordinary Americans are law-takers. Those who are not I call lawmakers.
Thus, companies and persons that influence laws, influential campaign
contributors, lobbyists, rule-making bureaucrats, influential Congressmen,
presidents, and judges are examples of lawmakers. You and I who
are ordinary persons uninvolved in these political processes or
are mere tokens in such processes and who basically are told what
to do – we are law-takers. We are at the receiving end of the laws
that they make.
The fact that
some law-takers like (and others dislike) certain laws is beside
the point of this distinction. I dislike being forced to pay a property
tax that finances the public school in my district. Others who are
also politically powerless like it or at least have no objection
to it. The fact remains that we are both law-takers.
we in fact are more than law-takers. We are also "government-takers".
We didn’t create our school districts or the governments at several
levels that enable them and interact with them financially and legally.
Our influence over these governments – their very form and existence
– is nil too.
Even if we
government-takers and law-takers are not harming others through
criminal activities or torts, we are forced to accept numerous laws
that we dislike and that decrease our happiness and welfare. The
public discussion shows that. Demonstrations show that. The large
share of votes that goes to the losing sides shows that.
that people are in constant disagreement over various issues and
that the government and its laws do not satisfy everyone. They are
constantly displeasing numerous of us government-takers and law-takers.
The government and laws also displease many lawmakers, for they
do not all get their way on every issue either. Their positions
as lawmakers and wielders of power are fluid. There is an enormous
amount of infighting among those in government.
As a law-taker,
I vouch for the fact that the government is doing things that I
personally would never dream of doing. The discrepancy between the
directions of government and my own directions is impossible to
bridge. I would never pick up a gun, travel to South Vietnam, and
start shooting at Viet Cong. I wouldn’t build an airplane and drop
bombs on Laos or Cambodia. I wouldn’t build rockets and shoot them
at Baghdad and other targets in Iraq. I wouldn’t send someone to
prison for selling cocaine. I wouldn’t build a $750 million "embassy"
in Iraq. I wouldn’t force certain of my fellow Americans to fork
over wealth so that I could then give it to others of my fellow
Americans. I wouldn’t dream of borrowing $1 for every $2 that I
spend, or of piling up $300,000 worth of personal debt.
As a government-taker,
I can assure you that I would consider it crazy to sign off on a
document like the U.S. Constitution – even if I had the chance.
I would not sign off on a document that gives me one lousy vote
that cannot possibly control numerous unnamed persons who would
have the power to tax me over any number of projects of their choosing.
I would not sign off on a document rife with loopholes that could
only be used to imperil my freedom. I would not throw myself into
a collective of other voters who are casting secret ballots for
representatives who are on a ballot through processes well beyond
comments are not a thorough critique. They only underscore that
I for one, as law-taker and government-taker, am being forced to
accept laws and governments. Based on observation of our contentious
political processes and disagreements, the same is true of numerous
other law-takers and government-takers. This is an empirical fact
that exists independent of the morality of the matter. It is another
fact that you and I have moral disagreements with these laws and
What is more,
the conflicts between rulers and ruled necessarily accompany
the presence of government. Lawmakers and government-makers must,
in the nature of their relations with those whom they rule, necessarily
take directions that clash with nearly all the law-takers and government-takers
in their jurisdiction. The exercise of power by the rulers necessarily
clashes with the wishes of those ruled. If it did not, violence
and force would not be the (current) defining characteristic of
At the heart
of the conflicts between rulers and ruled is the fact that the lawmakers
and government-makers (the rulers) are different persons than the
law-takers and government-takers (the ruled). Different persons
have different values, knowledge, information, tastes, wills, drives,
motivations, habits, customs, beliefs, intelligence, personalities,
bodies, genes, etc. When a law or directive is put in or passed
or a government system or subsystem instituted, it embodies a single
direction. It may clash with other laws and subsystems of that same
government, but it itself is unitary. The motivations behind this
law or system are not at issue. The point is that this law is bound
to face a multiplicity of views held by the numerous law-takers
within its jurisdiction. Whatever direction this law takes, it is
bound to be a different direction than what many law-takers would
of opinions held by law-takers on directions for governmentally-provided
defense is enormous. The same goes for the health care sector or
any other realm of government action. Government decisions are bound
to clash with what most people would do if they had freedom and
were not under government control.
In our era,
voting occurs. One can vote and yet still be among the ruled. The
capacity to cast a ballot every so often doesn’t mean that a person
Voting is categorically
different than exchanges in a free market. In the free market, a
buyer directly controls an exchange. You can buy an Apple computer
at a given price or not. This is entirely up to you. Further, there
is a one-to-one relation between your buying an Apple computer and
the revenue of the retailer. If 40 percent of existing Apple buyers
stop buying them, the manufacturer gets a direct signal.
In the case
of politics, one votes for a person, not an issue. A vote conveys
no direct signal on an issue. Further, the person who becomes a
representative makes hundreds of decisions on hundreds of issues,
thereby diluting any possible direct influence one’s vote may have.
The representative’s vote in a legislature is combined with votes
of other representatives, causing more dilution of the voters’ influence.
At many points, judicial, executive, and bureaucratic processes
intervene, and they cause more dilution. Each voter for a representative
may be deciding to vote because of a different issue upon which
the representative has taken a stance. This is vastly different
from the signals given to Apple if all these people decided to buy
or not buy an Apple. What is more, there are lawmakers behind the
scenes that use money and power to shape the laws against the interests
of the law-takers. Every one of these realities dilutes the influence
of a given election vote of a law-taker and ruptures the relation
between that person’s vote and his influence on a given issue.
a voter organizes other voters in order to gain influence over the
political outcomes. Then he faces a new set of obstacles in that
persons are selected by parties and the parties have their own processes
of influence. Furthermore the lawmakers control election districts
and ballot access. They even control how much money one can donate
to campaigns, when one can donate it, what can be said in a campaign
and when it can be said.
Voting is a
con game designed to softsoap the ruled and disguise the force exercised
on them by the rulers. Patriotism toward government is another such
ruse. We the People is a fiction. We the Ruled is a fact.
I am saying
little that is new, although it bears repetition until it motivates
action. I echo and strongly endorse Henry
David Thoreau in Civil
HEARTILY ACCEPT the motto, – ‘That government is best which governs
least’; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and
systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which
also I believe, – ‘That government is best which governs not at
all’; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind
of government which they will have. Government is at best but
an expedient; but most governments are usually, and all governments
are sometimes, inexpedient. The objections which have been brought
against a standing army, and they are many and weighty, and deserve
to prevail, may also at last be brought against a standing government.
The standing army is only an arm of the standing government. The
government itself, which is only the mode which the people have
chosen to execute their will, is equally liable to be abused and
perverted before the people can act through it. Witness the present
Mexican war, the work of comparatively a few individuals using
the standing government as their tool; for, in the outset, the
people would not have consented to this measure."
is relevant today and always:
does it become a man to behave toward this American government
to-day? I answer, that he cannot without disgrace be associated
with it. I cannot for an instant recognize that political organization
as my government which is the slave's government also."
Mexican-American War to which Thoreau refers is more than matched
by today’s wars in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia,
Pakistan, and Yemen:
men recognize the right of revolution; that is, the right to refuse
allegiance to, and to resist, the government, when its tyranny
or its inefficiency are great and unendurable. But almost all
say that such is not the case now. But such was the case, they
think, in the Revolution of '75. If one were to tell me that this
was a bad government because it taxed certain foreign commodities
brought to its ports, it is most probable that I should not make
an ado about it, for I can do without them. All machines have
their friction; and possibly this does enough good to counterbalance
the evil. At any rate, it is a great evil to make a stir about
it. But when the friction comes to have its machine, and oppression
and robbery are organized, I say, let us not have such a machine
any longer. In other words, when a sixth of the population of
a nation which has undertaken to be the refuge of liberty are
slaves, and a whole country is unjustly overrun and conquered
by a foreign army, and subjected to military law, I think that
it is not too soon for honest men to rebel and revolutionize.
What makes this duty the more urgent is the fact that the country
so overrun is not our own, but ours is the invading army."
S. Rozeff [send him mail]
is a retired Professor of Finance living in East Amherst, New York.
He is the author of the free e-book Essays
on American Empire: Liberty vs. Domination and the free e-book
The U.S. Constitution
and Money: Corruption and Decline.
© 2011 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in
part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.
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