Jan 22 2016

Fear of Big Government

Our founding Fathers had a deep fear of tyranny and an abiding wariness of how big government can lead to a slippery slope down into tyranny. Much of the debate about our Constitution and what should be put into it was about this worry. They acknowledged the need for some form of central government in order to strengthen the new nation, but worked hard to prevent the concentration from being able to grow out of control.

In history, it can be argued that the greatest evil has been produced by unethical leaders who have been over-empowered by big governments. In some cases, the leaders helped to create the big government and in other cases, the big government either created or empowered the leaders. At times, large social organizations; religious groups, business groups, fraternity groups, and others, got involved to varying degrees. To be sure, profit and greed have always played a part in this, but power seems to trump money, at least in part because power can usually supply money. But the real seduction of power is found in control.

Access to control seems to swell the idea of self, creating a strong appeal particularly to those with a need for more self-esteem. To the megalomaniac, the narcissist, and other versions of malformed egotism, the expansion of self, when fed, can become additive. Like most other forms of addiction, this one generally involves an upward spiral of need and supply, with a downward spiral of function and capability. The more control we grant to most of our leaders, the less capable they are of leading well. This is also true for groups.

There seem to be two obvious remedies to this problem. We can either strengthen the ethics and integrity of our leaders and our leadership groups, or we can limit their access to power and control. We should be constantly working at doing both.