George Will

Thanks to Don Boudreaux of Cafe Hayek for directing me to George Will’s latest column, The danger of government with unlimited power.  Will provides an excellent history of the political origins of two schools of thought when it comes to government power.   That’d be nice to throw out at a cocktail party.  Ah, you’re more of a Wilsonian Progressive. Personally, I’m more Madisonian in my views.

Thomas Sowell gives a philosophical background in his book, A Conflict of Visions, which highly recommend.

Here’s a great sentence from the column:

Government’s limited purpose is to protect the exercise of natural rights that pre-exist government, rights that human reason can ascertain in unchanging principles of conduct and that are essential to the pursuit of happiness.

While I agree with it,  it doesn’t operate at the level I like to operate.  My pondering brain asks, what is a natural right that pre-exists government?  To me, that phrase plays the same role as the creatures in the woods of M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village Spoiler alert: The creatures were costumes the adults used to keep the kids from wandering off and finding civilization.

I think there’s a better reason for limited government.  A reason that doesn’t require faith in pre-existing natural rights.  The answer is: “Power corrupts.”

But, still this isn’t the level I like to operate.  I wonder why does power corrupt?  I answered that on March 12, 2010 in my post Why Does Power Corrupt?

5 thoughts on “George Will

  1. Pingback: George W Bush joins Facebook | Facebook

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  3. ive been following doc landsburg’s blog for a few months now and somehow found myself here.

    my grammar is horrible. i would imagine this makes what i write less readable, but correcting it would require hours of instruction that i simply cannot afford to suffer through.

    your writing skills are superb.

    while i lack the desire to delve deep into your archive, i couldnt resist scrolling back in time a few weeks. perhaps in order to justify this comment. i cant really be sure. i think i may be one of those ‘types’ that likes to challenge my pre-conceived notions.

    i like your answer for limiting government better than most, and in the interest of discussion, i thought i would provide some contrary evidence for the need for ‘faith’ in pre-existing natural rights.

    a one-person game doesnt require rules. the predator/hunter-gatherer either has successful strategies and wins or they die hungry or beaten.

    two people games become interesting because the winner can result both from successful and from unsuccessful strategies. (sometimes the winner simply makes the least number of mistakes) the game certainly requires rules if the players desire to end in a tie.

    completely off-topic : my computer speakers have been picking up my neighbors police radio. ive grown used to the interference from cel phones, but this is a new one.

    the three player game gets even more interesting because the basic strategy seems to be that one player realizes they cannot win but can only decide which of the other two players will win. (the king maker) metaphorically, this is the step where the government comes into play.

    clearly, the single-player has unlimited freedom and unlimited rights.

    its the two player game that requires scrutiny to wrestle out a set of rules. i think historically the rules have been territorial. and so personal soveriegnty becomes the most basic, natural right that i can imagine.

  4. “There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty.”

    John Adams – 1772


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