It seems to me, the role of government has always been, and continues to be, to keep the little guy down, while protecting the big guys from the little guys. The founding of the US ushered in a new paradigm but the elite, over the course of a century managed to evolve even that virtuous national ethos back to the traditional one. Today there is not a nation on the planet that allows the little people to compete on a level playing field with the big guys. With an eye to calculation, the elite use the power of propaganda to convince the little guy that they work for him, against the little guy’s interests. This is done in a myriad of ways. Usually they offer up a piece of legislation that sounds good, a hike in minimum wage for example, but actually works against the interests of the little guy. We have shown such a propensity for falling for the trick, the elite know they have nothing to fear from us, because we will fall for it over and over again.
Income taxes are the ideal example. At the beginning of Obama’s Presidency, the billionaire Warren Buffett told a crowd of drooling reporters that he was incensed, his secretary paid a higher tax rate than he did. This was reported all across the media landscape as proof Buffett is a human hearted man. So the elite in government dutifully raised his secretary’s taxes, cut Buffett’s and gave him a monopoly for his choo choo trains to carry crude oil from Canada to Texas refineries. Of course transporting oil on trains is exponentially more dangerous then in a pipeline, as Lac Magantic proves, a few dozen little people burning to death is a small price for them to pay however, for the wonderful philanthropist Buffett’s monopoly profits. The entire affair was nothing but a propaganda exercise that worked perfectly.
People who work for a living pay a much higher tax rate than people who derive their income from investments. The already rich derive their income from investments and can pay accountants to protect their income from the tax man, those of us who labor for our daily bread however, have little left to pay an accountant and tax lawyer to protect ours, so we pay through the nose. The false meme that people earning over 200k should be taxed to death, only serves to keep the rest of us down, and protects the uber wealthy from having to compete with us. This is because the guy earning over 200k is not rich yet, she is trying to get rich, and the elite cannot tolerate that, so we are plied with propaganda based on jealousy and envy. The little guy is again tricked into damaging our own interests and protecting those of the elite.
Regulations are all about keeping us down. The role of regulations, despite what the elite tell you they are, is to protect a politically favored group or industry. Let’s say someone starts a business and manages to get rich despite the array of government regulations, taxes, cronyism and corruption. The first thing he will do is turn around and close the door behind him. This is done with regulations. He will use some of his wealth to lobby government to pass regulations making his industry “more safe.” Of course more safe always means a higher bar to entry. That higher bar, one that the already rich didn’t have to leap, protects the elite from having to compete with the hungry entrepreneur. The old saying, Shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations is one of the primary motivating factors here.
The children of the uber rich never grow up. They don’t have to. So they are ill prepared to compete with people who have grown up in the school of hard knocks. That is why in a traditional capitalist economy this saying holds true. Today however the elite have put in place a whole plethora of ways to protect their half witted grandchildren. Trust funds, regulations preventing competition, taxes to keep the working woman down and cronyism that only allows certain people to do certain things. In South America they haven’t had a free market… ever. I have a friend from Guatemala Brolio. One day we were talking and I mentioned to him that land in Guatemala must be pretty cheap, and the forest products industry pays handsomely for the lumber from that part of the world. I went on to say that if him and I went in together to buy some land and used good silvicultural practices we could make a mint. He laughed and laughed at the very thought. Shocked, I asked why? He replied that only certain people in Guatemala can own land.
The next time you have to cut a check to the government for some arcane regulation you ran afoul of, to pay a tax you weren’t aware of, to get permission from the government to engage in economic activity or buy equipment that you have no use for, to satisfy some government rule, you are experiencing this in action. You are being actively held down so the elite don’t have to compete with you. Next time you get fined by some self important bureaucrat, you’re economic future is being crushed by government, to save the fortune of a half wit. This has been the role of government from time immemorial. Oh yes, there have been a few times, short periods where this wasn’t the case, and those times have been immortalized as golden ages. Ancient Greek democracy, Roman republic, the founding of the US and the early years of free enterprise also known as the Enlightenment, are the few examples. Notice however, that those periods were short, singular and most importantly, the nations and societies involved have never risen again. This is why there is and always will be a huge disparity of wealth in the world.