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What is 'good' government | LETTER TO THE EDITOR
To the editor:
Is it not just as plausible that the "baneful effects of the spirit of party" of which George Washington warned us was as much in evidence as anything else?
In its Nov. 10 "In Our Opinion," the Bainbridge Review says the city council election delivered a "clear message" from the voters. "No" to drama, infighting, pettiness, etc. "Yes" to good government.
On the surface this sounds reasonable. It's just that it's a bit of a reach to overly simplify "good government" as being just the absence of discord.
Surely there was more on the mind of the typical voter as they cast their ballot than that the absence of drama and polarization constitutes good government.
What if "the right to be left alone (being) the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men" that Justice Louis Brandeis identified in his dissenting opinion in Olmstead v. U.S. (1928) were to be a casualty of this election, will not some then feel like they bought a pig in a poke with their vote?
So, what is good government?
Since "all politics is local" then it stands to reason that there are principles of law, "essentials," that are applicable to every level of government.
Short, easily understood, and to the point, I like Frederic Bastiat's "The Law" (1849) as the best treatise on law ever written to describe law's essential principles. What is law? It is the collective right of the lawful defense of the person, liberty, and property of all. Nothing more, nothing less. But then what happens?
The law is turned on itself, made to do injustice. The law becomes "perverted" by two things; "stupid greed and false philanthropy." It's almost too easy to assign a political party to these two things; stupid greed - Republicans, false philanthropy - Democrats. Both would use the law to exact "plunder" instead of justice.
Why plunder? Because it is "true that a man may live and satisfy his wants by seizing and consuming the products of the labor of others. This process is the origin of plunder."
When the law is made by the few, they plunder the many. When the many participate in the making of law, they do not curtail this plunder but expand upon it greatly because "(m)en naturally rebel against the injustice of which they are victims" and it is easier to continue the wrong then to make it right.
I can do no better than to directly quote Bastiat as to what must be done to make things right, to settle this issue of "legal plunder." Either we continue as we have up to now by:
1. The few plunder the many.
2. Everybody plunders everybody, or
3. Nobody plunders anybody.
Only the last option restores the law to its proper purpose.
A just society begins in the natural rights of man; life, liberty, and property. It is a perversion of the law to use it to destroy these rights. For those interested in justice I highly recommend that they read Bastiat's "The Law" before the next election.