Government is supposed to judge justice, but now it’s judging virtue.

Governments exist for a reason.

Photo by Erwan Hesry on Unsplash

17th-century philosopher John Locke described the beginnings of society, which created government for a specific purpose. Here’s how Locke’s story goes: in the beginning, people came together into societies, harvesting the land and trading with each other, which ended up generally benefiting everyone. As soon as people started living and trading together, a problem arose: some people were unjustly hurting others, and some people were defrauding each other in unfair transactions, or by stealing from each other. That’s when this particular hypothetical society invented its government.

Government was set up (in whatever form it took) in order to judge people’s interactions with one another, and whether their actions were just. Laws were recorded, so that there would be a precedent for justice. Governments found ways to punish those who broke the law. If two different societies got into a war, their respective governments would help defend their own societies. In general, if societies set up their government correctly, they found their society greatly improved.

People gathered into societies to improve their own quality of life. They set up governments to protect their quality of life from others. Society and government exist for selfish reasons, which is how they should be. When people work to improve their own lives, the only way to do so is to help other people in the process. Thus, a selfish society will end up continuously improving itself (that’s capitalism for ya).

I have just described a perfect world.

However, as history has shown an infinite number of times, governments always end up overreaching their original purpose. Before long, government has implanted itself in every corner of the life of society and the individual.

In many cases, government expansion is necessary, in order to uphold justice in all the various sectors of society. At a point, though, a government stops seeking to exclusively enforce justice, and, before anybody realizes it, has started to judge virtue as well.

The Roman Empire provides an example of this: I would date the beginning of the Empire’s fall to Nero’s reign, when he started the practice of coin-clipping. Before Nero, the entire Empire was on a solid currency, the aureus, an 8-gram gold coin. Nero, however, being unable to pay his soldiers, took all the coins in the Empire and reduced them all to 7.9 grams, using the remaining gold to make new coins to pay his soldiers. This was not just, as it devalued the currency, thereby effectively stealing money from the citizens. Nero did not do it because it was just, but because he thought it was virtuous (in his own self-centered, twisted idea of virtue) to keep his soldiers working for him.

After Nero, the Roman Emperors continued to do this until the Empire collapsed (which was arguably due to the continued coin-clipping).

I could totally go off on the subject of inflation (as I do in my One-Stop Guide to Bitcoin), but I will instead focus on how inflation is caused by governments judging virtue: governments, out of their own arbitrary sense of virtue, spend billions on homeless shelters, missionary programs, public education, and the environment. Most of the time, these spendings are misguided, and thus cause harm to the people. It isn’t government’s job to build wind turbines! That should be left to the people, since, as there is a demand for wind turbines, entrepreneurs will build them to take advantage of the market.

Let the people decide virtue, and let the government stick to justice.

This fault is becoming increasingly pronounced, especially as concerns the public education system. First, online learning was a fail. Now, government is forcing today’s anti-racism ideas upon public school students, often rejecting the arguments of parents and teachers.

Government wasn’t created to do that. Now, they’re forcing their arbitrary sense of virtue upon everyone.

You get the idea.

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“Freedom is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” -George Orwell

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“Freedom is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” -George Orwell

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