"That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it," wrote Virginia Colonist Thomas Jefferson in 1776.
By: Bob Schaffer, LPR Chairman
In considering the quality of leadership, one good indicator of poor quality is a leader’s reliance upon the use of force.
Leadership entails persuasion. This often means getting people to do something they would not normally do on their own.
When leaders use vision, strategies, projects and tactics to lead others in some voluntary enterprise, we tend to regard these leaders as excellent. We commend their reasonability, their eloquence, their capacity to persuade.
Use of force, however, is persuasive, too. Keep in mind not all leaders are positive influencers. Tyrants are indeed leaders when they succeed in getting people to do things beyond their own volition.
The same observations apply to governments, government programs and, of course, government leaders. On this point, George Washington said, “Government is not reason. It is not eloquence. Government is force; like fire it is a dangerous servant – and a fearful master.”
Today’s leaders certainly offer a broad spectrum of leadership quality. The majority can’t seem to propose anything meaningful that doesn’t rely on the use of force to accomplish its objectives.
Some examples are: Forced purchase of insurance. Forced purchase of high-cost, low-efficiency energy. Forced licensure. Forced registration. Forced subsidy. Of course, the most common and overused of all is the legal plunder of forced taxation.
Each of these examples acknowledges the reality that free people would not normally engage in the activity on their own volition. Our politicians today acknowledge that the governed do not voluntarily support the actions of their government.
Every effort to increase government’s spending is a proportional effort to expand government’s use of force. Additional power thusly derived is used to either force forfeiture of higher portions of one’s labors or to coerce some behavioral conformity advantageous to those already in power.
These predictable acts of government force are not unlike those of Isaac Newton’s laws of inertia. Given enormous powers, politicians rarely hold the capacity to exercise restraint. The inertia of big government won’t stop on its own.
Sir Isaac Newton's Law of Inertia sound much like the political observations of the Declaration of Independence.
Few in today’s political ranks are proposing liberty as the basis for high-quality leadership. Those who do are deeply in the minority at virtually any level of government.
David Friedman noted, “The direct use of force is such a poor solution to any problem, it is generally employed only by small children and large nations.” It’s hard to know whether he meant the president, the Congress, the State Legislature, the governor or the city council. Perhaps all of the above.
Newton’s law of inertia sound’s much like the political observations made in America’s own Declaration of Independence. “A body persists in a state of rest or of uniform motion unless acted upon by an external force,” Newton reasoned.
“That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness,” observed Jefferson.
Can anyone regard Newton’s reason as less than true; or Jefferson’s eloquence less than excellent?
Bob Schaffer is the Chairman of the Colorado State Board of Education. He is a former US Congressman and Colorado State Senator. He is also the Chairman of the Leadership Program of the Rockies. His monthly columns appear in the organization's newsletters. For more information and to subscribe, please visit www.leadershipprogram.org
More information about Schaffer at www.BobSchaffer.org