Here’s a little intellectual exercise – look at the nations of the world and compare the extent of government intrusion with the economic growth and societal standard of living.  It doesn’t take a college degree or high school diploma to instantly see the more government there’s less growth and lower living standards.

Government comes in many forms, but all, one way or another, coerce with a range of tools from dictates, laws, regulations, rules, taxes and bureaucratic activity.  The sticks range from torture and death, torture and death of loved ones, execution, imprisonment, fines, seizure forfeiture and confiscations of property.  It’s a fearsome list.  Do something to offend a bureaucrat, police type on up to dictator or president and the consequences can be horrific.

The key in keeping social growth and improving the living standards (aka the American Dream) is not to cross the “line of fear” of the “mob”.  Even the most civilized of societies when frightened become a mob. Tyranny gets fear going early and quick, and struggles with violence to keep power.  Democracy gets to fear late and slowly and struggles with politics to find a way to keep the system intact. So, what is that line?

The “Positive” Incentives.

The danger zone for a national society is the use of carrots also known as incentives.  An incentive can be special treatment in law, regulations, rules, taxes and bureaucratic activity. Incentives are especially dangerous when treatment extends to passing money out.  It seems like a behavior motivator to the dispenser, but it’s always a psychological depletion of some kind for the recipient.  Many incentives do have positive effects to be sure, but once one is enabled others are sure to follow with inevitably less social value until burdensome for everyone.  At some point the burden’s growth displaces national growth and improving living standards.  National, social and cultural stagnation ensues, the cultural dream slowly dies and the burden is very hard to shake off.

The United States is deep into the experiment of how far incentives, with all the special interests competing with the interests of the whole, can go before an economic implosion.  Economists are vaguely aware and watch, but with a body of law through regulations, rules and taxes numbering in the millions of pages over thousands of activities and programs a model that’s credible defies construction.  It’s also pointless.  It’s plain to see that the U.S. economy is operating based with fear of government intrusion, not from hopes of research, development, taking risk and innovating to a better future.  Survival comes first.

Most people whether ready for the admission or not, realize they are paying for someone else’s carrot.  They also feel the branches of the sticks catch bits of them and know they’re just a step away from a full impact.  They also know something should be done to get the country right again.  Many are in denial; refuse to see world and its history, yet they too are behaving in a burdensome carrot world with sticks raised over them.

Lots of people wonder what to do.  Well, get real first.  The U.S. government and most others are an ‘intangible’ property like a contract or insurance policy.  It can be changed.  Some might say, “push the reset button” to borrow again from the world of computers.

A reset button push is not enough – a reset just reorganizes with a restart so things cooperate better and does nothing to remove the problems.  Politicians and the media love the “reset button” analogy because it seems ‘Cool!’.

In the world of computers a harddisk format clears the whole of the system to empty.  A re install puts in an operating system like Windows or Linux (government structure) with the default settings in place ready for programs (the laws, etc.).  All the stuff needed has to be put back and all the garbage and junk are sensibly and hopefully left out.  Computer people call it a “clean install” and it works wonders.

For the U.S. the operating system is the Constitution.  Ready at a moment’s notice for use with no license to pay.  Vacating the whole body of law might seem extreme, but there are choices and significant advantages. . .

Vacating the body of law back say 100 or 200 years will keep the military intact and the violent offenders behind bars.  Most every carrot and stick will disappear, 110 years and the IRS is gone.  It will also focus the attention of the Congress on what’s really basic and important – for years if not decades.  One might think chaos would ensue, but not if there are a few months or a year of advance notice.  The culture and society will have to take care of themselves again.  Personal responsibility would have meaning again.

Expediency would be more important than political maneuvers – something not seen in over 200 years.  The interests of the whole will supercede everything of special interests for years, too.

Of course it’s not that simple, but the potential exists and the path to do it was foreseen and written in the Constitution.  Something like the Tea Party of today could get state legislators in office and call the convention.  A simple government re install back to say 1875 would be great.

. . . With a 20-year expiration date clause for all new laws, just to keep the Congress working at its primary job.  It’s time to format the national system and reinstall the Constitution.

Your thoughts and comments are welcome.


7 Comments so far

  1. Matt Musson on December 15, 2010 11:25 AM

    If only it were as easy as installing Govt for Windows 7.0

    Unfortunately, there are many people who are happy about the direction this country is taking. They want a socialist society where they don’t have to work hard for anything. They want to keep people from buying Happy Meals for the children and want to prohibit Conservative Talk Radio from the airwaves.

    While I don’t disagree with your assertion, don’t believe that reinstall can be done without bloodshed.

    Next Spring or Summer, California will have a financial meltdown. They will not be able to borrow enough money to stay afloat.

    My official prediction is that Public Employees will riot in the streets. Not protest. Riot.

    There will be blood.


  2. Al Fin on December 15, 2010 11:59 AM

    If the bond markets collapse due to the fear that municipalities, states, and higher governments cannot repay — there will be mass turmoil to be sure.

    A lot of public sector workers are pushing for higher pay, benefits, and pensions, never believing it could all crash on their heads. A lot of trial lawyers are pushing for more opportunities to sue anything with deep pockets for higher and higher damages, never imagining that the economic clock could run down to zero and below. A lot of good environmentalists are pushing for more wind and solar, and for zero nukes and zero carbon — never dreaming that they are putting their own existence at risk.

    Washington DC is the most prosperous metropolitan area at this time, but it is the prosperity of successful pirates, looters, and rapists. That kind of prosperity burns itself out eventually.

  3. Nick G on December 15, 2010 1:30 PM

    “A simple government re install back to say 1875 would be great.”


    Surely a solution has to be practical? There has to be an actual way to get to it politically. you’ll have to communicate with and compromise with people you don’t agree with. Unless you can do that then you won’t be able to advance your ideas.

    My understanding is that many conservatives believe regulatory uncertainty is one of the major barriers to growth today. I don’t share that view myself, but lets say it’s true. How would throwing away so many laws affect this situation and how would the process to replace them work? They would have to be replaced to some degree otherwise there would surely be total chaos. The amount of law that would have to be written would be so big that it would all have to be done at speed in back rooms because the democratic process is so slow. This backroom process is not popular at the moment.

  4. Matt Musson on December 16, 2010 2:12 PM


    How about you let each department produce a 300 page book of regulations.

    It can never exceed 300 pages and the type size cannot be altered.

    It would force them to each to concentrate on what is really important. And, citizens would be able to at least know the rules.

    For every new rule, they have to delete something.

  5. Nick G on December 16, 2010 3:54 PM

    It’s an interesting idea Matt, but I just wonder still if it would work. I see the appeal of it to a libertarian.

    I think you would have to tune it. 300 is a rather arbitrary number. Maybe Agriculture could run with 150 regulations, but after carefully scrubbing of regs from Education you just have to have 600. Also how would you know what the effect of the rules would be? The current rules have built up over time like layers of sediment. There were reasons for each of them. Some reasons may have been good and some bad. Each regulation has a complex effect probably slightly favouring or hindering a group. The safest way to make sure no harm would be done would be to run a test program in maybe a couple of states and see what happens.

    The ripping up of everything and starting again is a fairly radical notion. There may be a case for it, but you have to accept you have no idea how it will play out in the real world. In fact this is why the world is as it is. In healthcare for example the policy wonks basically wanted to end employer based healthcare, but putting forward anything radical suddenly creates a storm of protest. The media feeds on conflict because its a commercial and also partially ideological entity and gridlock occurs. Then the radical proposals are scaled back to incremental changes. Incremental changes are the only things that can actually be passed.

    …So change is hard. As Obama is finding out. When a politician you like gets into power you will find the same thing.

  6. J.P. Katigbak on December 16, 2010 9:43 PM

    There has to have, at least, a very meaningful discussion to talk about – and act upon – the varying aspects of what is meant to be the word “change” – political and social change, that is.

    I am certainly thinking about it, yet I expect the turbulence would occur across the globe right now, especially in the U.S. where current discussions about social & economic issues are played out, so heated as it is.

    It is impossible to predict the true outcomes of political, social, and economic reforms of a particular country around the world, but ordinary people such as me should see for ourselves the merits of the idea that change is necessary to reflect the situations we are facing right now.

    Therefore, it is possible to recognize the reality about the circumstances affecting both the economy and society of various nations around the world, and it is important to talk about what action is taken appropriately to prevent any disturbance from happening. I suspect mad, bad, and dangerous ideas are a main causes of concern because these are formulated to cause trouble, and designed to create different sorts of political & ideological motivations that are destabilizing at best.

    It is time to get serious on the idea of dubious political & social changes beofre it is too late.

  7. joe on December 25, 2010 4:40 PM

    first step should be to throw out the tax code and start new with honest and open tax rates and no favoritism, no loopholes for the Kennedys etc…i think i read that there are over a million tax preparers in the U.S. – what a waste of likely talented and educated people who are currently contributing nothing to the economy…they would be much better utilized in science and other business…

    and then you have to get to the crooked congress in this country that likes to produce 2,000 page bills and demands there be a vote on it in 24 hours even though nobody could possibly read these bills or comprehend them in the lawyer-speak they are written in…and then we see that congress demands a new START treaty be passed simply to boost the current pres. chances for the next election…i think its clear that we have a corrupt, self-serving, dishonest political class and society…

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