Ayn Rand

was able to appreciate the difference between Russia and America because she had experienced both. This camel's experience of socialism was the relatively mild British form but America still made a huge impact on me in 1982. America seemed so much more free than the UK. To give a trivial example, one could chop down a tree in New Jersey without a government permit.

Excerpt from "The Power of the Powerless"

Leaving aside all the silly labels, government is a necessary evil. Besides building physical infra-structure, it is the government that implements grand ideas such as maintaining “Due Process”, ending slavery, universal education and putting a man on the moon. The trick is to know when to stop expanding the role of government.

While an outright ban on the production and consumption of alcohol may have benefits to society we have found that there are unintended evil consequences that outweigh those benefits. Today we are satisfied with merely discouraging alcohol consumption by taxing it. Even so we must refrain from raising these taxes to the point that criminal behavior is unduly encouraged.

Hitler's Germany had magnificent roads (that's where Eisenhower got the idea for our Interstate highways) and universal health care.

So how should governments be influenced to avoid corruption and excess? At one time it was thought that freedom of the press was all you needed to keep government honest.

The Republic of China has three branches of government, similar to the USA, but it has a fourth branch called the “Ministry of Audit” with the power to investigate the other branches. In Taiwan, stealing money from the government can be a capital offense so people take a Ministry of Audit probe seriously.

In the USA we have the Constitution and Lincoln's great idea (.......government of the people, by the people, for the people.....), but it it enough? Does the tenth amendment have any weight today? The “Commerce” and “General Welfare” clauses seem to trump states' rights every time, so the power and cost of the federal government grows relentlessly.

Since my arrival thirty years ago the freedoms enjoyed by Americans have steadily diminished; today a permit is needed to burn garden refuse in my back yard. Personal freedom, economic freedom and prosperity are closely linked but today the USA is slipping down the Heritage Foundation's "Index of Economic Freedom". The USA is now ranked #8 with a "Mostly Free" rating.

Ayn Rand points out that when the government is strong enough it will control the public discourse. After that it is a small step to manipulate public opinion through lies (...Rearden metal is dangerous....). Today governments around the world are lying to us about energy policy; the climate scam is a vital component of the big lie that "Renewable" power sources will save mankind from itself. While it took Ayn Rand 1,200 pages to skewer statism, Hayek in his "Road to Serfdom" used less paper and Vaclav Havel did it in a booklet one can read in a couple of hours.