The Business of Government
By U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, M.D. (R-Texas)
Amid the din of economic nonsense being bandied about since the collapse of the housing bubble and the steep ramping up of our national debt, there has been the persistent refrain that Washington should be run more like a business. If only more business people were in charge to wield their business acumen, we would have this country in shape in no time. But is that a good solution?
Businesses seek primarily to increase their revenues and profits. Government revenue depends on taxes. Government accumulates taxmoney by squeezing it out of people’s productive earnings with threats of audits, fines and imprisonment. Our government already collects roughly $2.1 trillion annually from the productive taxpayers of America. We hardly need to increase our federal government’s revenues like a private business!
Businesses sell products or services to voluntary buyers, always looking to increase their market share as much as possible. But what is the federal government’s product or service? Rules, regulations, bureaucracy, paperwork, red tape, hoops to jump through, uneven protection and security from people with guns, coercion and compliance through force and confiscation of assets, militarism instead of national defense, and of course a vast welfare state. Do we need more of these government services? Hardly. In fact, we have far too many of these destructive things already.
What we need is more freedom. Freedom is the simple ability of people to live their lives as they see fit without government coercion, provided they do not initiate force or fraud against others. What we really need is a less coercive government, not more revenues.
Washington needs to stop seeing itself as a growth industry, and realize that the true function of government is to protect liberty. Washington certainly has expanded and grown and accumulated a great deal of the people’s capital for itself, but this has been at the expense of our nation’s prosperity. This trend needs to be reversed.
We don’t need yet another “jobs” bill to supposedly put the American people back to work. Politicians need to realize that, aside from outright hiring some 14 million people, government does not create jobs. The only thing government does is hinder job creation by getting in the way and consuming otherwise private resources. Therefore, the most useful thing government can do for unemployment is to “liquidate” much of what government does in the first place.
One plain example is our tax policy that encourages U.S. corporations to accumulate foreign earnings abroad rather than repatriate such earnings. Currently there is over $1 trillion of capital that companies are keeping overseas because of the 35% tax charged for bringing it back to the US. Our government literally is pushing capital and jobs overseas that could be used to hire an estimated 2.5 million people here at home.
Businesses create jobs. Government is not a business. We don’t need more stimulus or phony jobs bills. We don’t need more revenue - $2 trillion is plenty to fund the federal government annually. What we do need is a wholesale rejection of government as a central economic planner.