Our government is always behind the times. Every democracy, republic, democratic republic, constitutional democracy, or any of the other combinations of those word is always behind the market. I’m not even talking about all the bureaucratic red tape and inefficiencies. I’m saying by its very definition, when it is working at its best, it has to be lagging behind the market…It needs 50% to do anything!
For argument’s sake, let’s say we live in an impossible government-run utopia where the free citizens elect a representative as their voice to the government. That representative would act in the best interest, not of himself, but of his constituents. If he did get out of line, we would have a magical paper with rules written on it. All government officials would be bound by this paper. We’d make sure of it by having a branch of government ultimately decide what is acceptable based on the piece of paper….I think you get the picture.
In this society, we’d need a majority to get anything changed. If it needs to be changed, it would imply that a majority of people held an incorrect belief. For example; slavery. I think most people would agree that slavery is morally wrong, even if at one time it was an accepted practice all over the world. If one person in all of the utopia government finally realized slavery was wrong, he would have no voice at all in government. He would have to spread his word until enough people, at least 50% of the population, believed he was right.
At the point he convinces 50%, with obvious help from others he converted, it seems that abolition of slavery would be a pretty good idea. After all, you shouldn’t need to violently coerce people into accepting good ideas. If the society went from 0% to 50% the change could not have come from government. The change had to come from the market because if 0% of the population thinks slavery is wrong, and government is the “voice of the people”, then government cannot abolish slavery. It must act on behalf of the people!
This example is only when government is acting as it is drawn up, which is clearly impossible in practice. In reality, people will always act in their own self-interest, even if they get elected to public office! They will do favors for their buddies and pass regulations to transfer wealth from the poor to the rich, all while making you think they’re doing the opposite. Elected officials have 2 jobs, and only 2 jobs: Get elected and stay elected.