Is Limited Government an Oxymoron?

Limited GovernmentIn McCuistion TV’s discussion on Limited Government, the panelists focus their discussion on the credit crisis, free markets and limited government.

Joining Host Dennis McCuistion are:

Doug Casey is not a fan of government as it is as he believes it coerces opinions. He feels entrepreneurs would be the better solution to many issues.

Dennis asks: Isn’t this anarchy?

In response, we find that Doug Casey believes that government’s role in a civil society is to protect us from force, inside and outside the bailiwick… and to adjudicate in a fair court system. He asserts that Government is a busy body and power monger and it does not serve a useful purpose.

Thomas Woods believes that we need to return to the foundation of the US Constitution and 10th amendment. He believes that too many Think Tanks are chasing a unicorn with their asking for funding to curb spending, etc. and nothing happens. He says of Government that it has a monopoly to tax and that moral principles are abandoned when it comes to government. Government fails on absolute standards of society.


1804 – 10.18.09


13 Responses to “Is Limited Government an Oxymoron?”
  1. James Atha says:

    Best show ever! These guys really have thought through our dilemmas – now all we need is for people to stop numbing their minds with “entertainment” and take back what they’ve lost. It’ll never happen, but it’s a revolutionary idea.

    I saw Michael Moore’s “Capitalism” and it’s amazing how many parallels there are with these gentlemen. Especially poignant it seems is the mutual agreement that the middle class will soon be eliminated.

    Thank you Dennis, et al, JA

  2. Steve Perry says:

    Michael Moore may see some of the problems that Woods and Casey see, but he does not correctly diagnose the causes, and even worse, he believes the solution is found in more state action, more intervention, more regulation, more coercion.

    I would have liked to see the panelists make a conceptual distinction between “The State” and “government.” Many voluntary organizations have “government”: business organizations of whatever form, churches, clubs, families, to name a few. The key difference between the government of these entities and “The State” is that one may always depart from these organizations if their governance becomes unbearable. But it is not possible to refuse the “services” of The State nor is it possible to refuse to pay for them.

    Another Mises Institute scholar, Hans Hermann Hoppe defines the state as a territorial monopolist of the production of justice and security, which claims the power of taxation and which claims to be the final arbiter in all disputes, including those involving itself. Several elements in this definition (or related to it) were touched on directly or by inference by the panelists, but I think the distinction is good to keep in mind. A small benefit, among many, is that it helps make sense of some periods of history in which “civil government” did not quite rise (descend?) to the level of The State. (The existence of such historical periods does not demonstrate, however, that limited government is not an oxymoron, however; as for that thesis, I believe the panelists are correct.)

  3. James:
    Thank you we appreciate your feedback. I too saw Moore’s Capitalism, and they all agree, that the middle class may soon be eliminated- Yet, a distinction, our panelists believe in the free enterprise system as America’s strength and a solution, not a weakness. And a hope for the future.
    Keep watching for more on these issues. We have a great fall lineup.

  4. Steve:
    Good point re “the State” and “government” and the distinction between voluntary and involuntary. And it seems we are giving more power and sanctioning involuntary governance. Our panelists point – that “limited government” is in fact just that, an oxymoron. Thanks for giving us food for thought. That’s just what we hope to inspire- divergent viewpoints that stimulate thinking and thoughtful conversation.

  5. Dan Stafford says:

    “Best show ever! These guys really have thought through our dilemmas – now all we need is for people to stop numbing their minds with “entertainment” and take back what they’ve lost. It’ll never happen, but it’s a revolutionary idea.” – James Atha

    Every chance I get I add content to the conversations at The Huffington Post that attempts to pull the subject matter into a context similar to what Mr. Woods and Mr. Casey have created in the video. It seems to work if one is polite and articulate. People allow something in if you don’t preface your comments with “You buffoon …”.

  6. David Stanford says:

    Great program! One quick thought: you didn’t discuss the concept of “leadership” and how that is distinct from either “government” or “the state”. Not everyone is created equal — some are smarter, stronger, more intuitive, better looking, etc., and all creatures — including animals — organize themselves into groups with some form of leadership at the head. It was ever thus, and has been extended through every fiber of society all the way through to (and especially including) the family, the single most important group within society.

    It is blindingly obvious that what we lack most in society today is truly just, moral and ethical leaders. Instead we have “Heads of State”. The Founding Fathers knew that being the Head of State meant that you were either (i) born with the right gender into the right family, or (ii) the best at playing the latest round of the game to get there, like “King of the Hill” each recess in grade school. They knew that history had repeatedly demonstrated that society would ultimately crave a Head of State to, in effect, worship, and that the mere occupation of that role by anyone would eventually corrupt them and their successors. So despite their best efforts to protect us from ourselves, over time a plethora of corrupt, and sometimes truly evil, heads of state have risen to the top of “the Hill” (figuratively and literally)conclusively proved this premise. In fact, Americans owe a huge debt of gratitude to the Founding Fathers because, without the truly inspired system of government they established, the U.S. would likely have seen several more immoral or amoral despots rising to the top job. Another Nixon or Bush, or even a Franco or Hitler, anyone? (And those are just the ones on the right side of the spectrum; you could add Carter, Obama, Mao and Stalin from the left and then argue which group is the “least vile”!)

    So the vacuum left by non-existent leadership has been filled by frauds: Heads of State who simply seek power for power’s sake so they can impose their vision of society on the masses. But humans have always gotten the government they deserve, and the governmental chickens are now coming home to roost in the U.S.! Except they look and act much more like vultures….

  7. Matt R. says:

    Nicely done! I read Doug’s investment newsletter and read MELTDOWN by Tom Woods, so it was like seeing two old friends in my living room.

  8. honestann says:

    What humans need to understand first is… abstractions do not exist. Even governments officially recognize this, since legally all “organizations” are called “fictitious entities” in legal documents. And understand clearly, a “fiction” is something that does not exist, but you do have a mental state to refer to it anyway – just as “Santa Claus” is a real, physical mental state in the brain of billions of humans, but no referent of that mental state exists. Therefore, to understand “government” requires we understand the most basic characteristics of “government” — which are: NONE. However, to believe your “Santa Claus” mental state exists is to be insane (if you are an adult). Likewise, to believe “government” exists is also to be insane. To be sure, buildings exists (that supposedly belong to government), the books that record so-called laws and regulations exist, the humans (who supposedly work for government) exist, but no absolutely no entity exists that is the referent of the fictitious entity people refer-to as “government”.

    If you are somehow confused how a non-existent like government could *do* anything, the answer is quite simple. The government ***cannot*** do anything (it doesn’t exist). But humans who take the idea “government” seriously do – just as 5 year old kids who take the idea “Santa Claus” seriously do. It is not “Santa Claus” that makes them arise at the crack of dawn on Christmas morning – it is their mistaken notion that their bogus mental state named “Santa Claus” has a referent. It is the ***mental state*** that motivates, not the so-called referent.

    Given this fundamental understanding, we can answer questions about “the appropriate role of government”. Given the fundamental understanding, the only two possible answers are:

    #1: none
    #2: no human may take any action on behalf of government that is not ethical as an individual

    Therefore, if some human wanted to create a “brand” called “government” and offer services, they could do so… but the name of his fictitious entity does not give him any more rights or powers than any other human operating on his own behalf or on the so-called behalf of any other fictitious entity. Honestly, that’s all there is to this subject.

  9. Jerry Citti says:

    This was an outstanding presentation (Is Limited Government an Oxymoron?). On a five point scale I give it a six. Thank you so much.

    I admit that I keep wondering what could have been done differently, or, if we had it to do over again, what would we do next time that would prevent the government from becoming overbearing. There seems to me to be no solution. A government will arise in a civil society if for no reason other than people want an easy solution to the problem of keeping order and protecting rights. Once formed all governments grow. Over time that growth becomes a behemoth that is a problem and here we go again.

  10. allan says:

    I think that when approaching these ideas you have to first demonstrate that society and national governments are two different things, then delineate the differences between state and governance.

  11. Don Swenson says:

    The post above by honestann is ‘right on’. This person understands reality IMO. I would suggest that both Doug Casey and Tom Woods digest this person’s message and philosophy. Leaders are individuals who exist in space and time. Government, whether limited or not, is a ficticious concept of our consciousness. Our planet exists. The 6.8 billion people on this planet exist…but where is ‘government’? I think our Founding Fathers recognized this reality and this gave them humility and moral fiber. Our “leaders” today seem to be living in a fantasy world which does not exist in space and time. That’s my view. Enjoy this day!


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