Friday, June 3, 2011

Why Government?

In recent history we have experienced what could possibly be the most incompetent government in the world. We have also had the pleasure of living through multiple martial laws and crackpot democracies. Yet still, like gluttons for punishment, we ask for more. Perhaps a change of face, but more abuse is welcome. The nation as a group suffers from an acute case of short term memory, that doesn't remember more than a year back (at most).

This question might seem preposterous at first. After all, for the last millennium or so, there has not been a single moment, where someone or some entity has not been ruling over us. It is difficult to imagine such a question, because it appears, to the best of our reasoning, an abhorrence to nature itself. As if it were completely natural and utterly necessary for a nation to have a government. But these arguments are not answers. They are merely excuses. To say we need a government, simply because we have had a government since itime immemorial is not a good answer. Nor is the existence of government in most countries of the world a good answer. So lets try to answer the question as logically and as reasonably as possible. Why do we need a government?

We certainly don't need government to simply tax people. Nor do we need it to make a certain class of people richer. While this may be in the interest of the enriched classes, it is most certainly not in the interests of the majority, who are usually left footing the bill. Do we need a government to run an army? Usually that is not the case, and an army can operate independently of the government very easily. True the army needs to be accountable, but for that too a government is not necessary, and the people can hold the army to account through systems of courts. We also don't and should not need government to impose subsidies and tariffs on various products imported or exported.

So should we just remove government, and live in a tax-free, parasite-less world? Would that be possible? Some people seem to think so, and in some places of the world such situations do exist and thrive. An example being the so called Federally Administered Tribal Areas, which are as federally administered as mutton chops involve chicken.

There is a simple reason for the existence of government, and it is the same reason that governments were instituted in the first place. The protection of life, liberty and property of the people. That is all the people really want. The people don't want increases in taxes, nor do they want tariffs on imported goods. They don't want the government to fix prices on oil and electricity. They don't want the government to supply (intermittently) water and electricity to their houses. They desire that their lives, their family's lives, their businesses, their property be protected from usurpation, loss and imposition by
hostile entities. This is the only reason people suffer a government to impose its will upon them. Without these services there is no reason for the existence of a government. Imposing edifices erected to glorify itself and somehow extract feelings of "nationalistic pride" from the citizenry do not matter. They are wastes of taxpayer money in that they are not needed to establish justice.

If these simple requirements are unfulfilled, there is no difference in government and a band of dacoits. They both extract money from the population by force. And yet, some dacoits actually provide protection in exchange for the tax, while our particular government is unable to accomplish even that. Both of them impose their will unquestioningly on the populace. While we may satiate ourselves with the farce of suffrage, upon closer inspection there is very little difference between democracy and dictatorship. The recent revelation of countless votes turning out to be fake, has made not a dent in this regime's incessant howling. Not one "elected" official has been removed or impeached. Not a single step of progress has been made in investigating or meting out justice.

The government, our government, has failed to provide us with these basic rights: the protection of our lives, liberties and properties. By this criteria there is no more legitimacy for this government than there is for dacoits to roam free. And yet they do. And yet we get ready to hold elections for them,time and time again, so they can re-legitimize their tyrannical rule over us, holding us to their whims in a terrible bondage, from which it is becoming extremely difficult to extricate ourselves. There is desperate need for justice in Pakistan, yet these people who call themselves our rulers, are unable to provide it and so hold no legitimacy over us.

So do we need a government? We certainly do not need this government. We certainly do not need any government that would continue this same system of legitimized bullying. What we need is the rule of law and freedom to go about our daily businesses without fear. That is the limit of government action and the only job a government should take. No more, no less.