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If You Were Dictator


Most of us believe we know better than those who exercise authority over us. Be it a mom, employer or government, we could make improvements in the way things are done. Family and employment are situational specific, but we all have the same national government. Could we improve government? To explore, let’s play a game called “If you were dictator.”

If You Were Dictator

dictatorThe game is simple. It involves you being in control, total control. You may effect whatever changes you wish. The catch is that your total control lasts for one week. Changes you make will be imposed on the current government, under which you will then have to live. The Constitution will remain in place, although you may add, delete or change amendments to it as you see fit. Presumably that is where you would make changes because these changes would have a higher probability of surviving after you returned to mere citizen.

The game may seem far-fetched, but it is a useful exercise. It will make you think about the problems of the country, the role of the rule of law and the problems of granting power and preventing it from being abused. Can changes be made that would constrain the nonsense that passes for governance today? I have thoughts. You probably do also. Start fantasizing about what you would do if you were dictator.

There are few rules to what you can suggest. Do not waste time with things like “abolish ObamaCare.” What is needed are changes in the broad scope of governance not changes in specific laws. That implies tinkering with the operating manual, the Constitution. It is unacceptable to blow Washington up and start over, no matter how much you believe that is reasonable.

Be careful,. Whatever imperfections the Constitution might have, it is the best document created for providing and preserving liberty. Toying with it could make matters worse. Unintended consequences (a government euphemism for a bad idea) cannot be used as an excuse. Also keep in mind the old adage that the perfect is the enemy of the good.

Ludwig von Mises

Ludwig von Mises

One caveat. The great Liberal (in the classical sense), Ludwig von Mises, was asked shortly after arriving in this country the question: “If you were dictator what would you do?” His answer was short and immediate: “Abdicate.” That answer was consistent with Mises and his belief system. He understood the imperfections of humanity and the corrupting influence of power. He was unwilling to trust even himself in such a position. Anyone engaged in this exercise should respect his position.

I shall be writing more about my ideas in several posts. In the meantime, I welcome any of your suggestions or ideas as to how you might act if you were dictator under the loose rules of this game.

 See If You Were A Dictator — Part II

5 thoughts on “If You Were Dictator”

  1. Essentially, we are in agreement. How frightening is that?

    Most apparent, without proving Lord Acton’s pronouncement wrong, the impossibility of a “political/government” solution remains unalterable. Henry David Thoreau stated “I was not born to be forced.” Who was? Even animals don’t like to be told what to do. Washington’s observation “Government is Force” demonstrates the inseparable connection of Government and Power (Force) which breeds Acton’s “corruption”.

    “It would only be a matter of time before the extinction of liberty and freedom resumed and the plunder ratcheted back up.”
    The definition of Insanity comes to mind: as long as the same format (Government) is followed what other outcome could there be? Government and the Power to administer its laws and regulation is the Dynamic Dysfunctional Duo.

    I fear your goal “to change political incentives so that even evil men might find it attractive to come to conclusions similar to yours” would negate the attraction to “government” prima facie. How/why would evil men be attracted to something that did not accrue the power (force) to expand and extend the profitability of their “evil”? As Walter Williams observed on one of my shows, no tyrant ever woke up and said “Well, this isn’t working. Let’s try Freedom”.

    In addition, taken in the context of “consent of the governed”, there is a contradiction. If there is mutual consent, it is not government”; if there is “governing”, there is no consent. Unless one endorses the forceful imposition of the will of the Majority upon the Minority (Tyranny of the Majority), the immoral Force of “government” through the self-assumed “authority” of a ruling class cannot/does not yield Freedom; Government imposed altruism is an oxymoron.

    “Your approach would be an enormous improvement. I fear it doesn’t last very long, though.”
    Therein lies the game’s fatal flaw: all the good and necessary changes are as if written on an old Magic Slate and every Monday – zip! – they’re un-done. Fantasizing about winning PowerBall produces a much better leg tingle!

    I believe we can find the answer(s) in anarchology (volunteerism) where self-governance and free choice eliminates Government force and corruption, non-aggression preserves all human/natural rights and cultivates voluntary exchange and free markets. Sadly, to be successful, such a concept is a personal belief and not a System of Rules conjured on parchment. But then, conversations like these can ultimately provide the education to make Believers out of everyone – just not by next Tuesday….

    I look forward to the Coming Attractions of your ideas…

  2. Repeal the 16th Amendment/Abolish the IRS. Eliminate Homeland Security and its progeny (NSA, BATFE, TSA, FEMA, etc), all Cabinet positions except Defense and VA, pardon prisoners serving time for non-violent “drug offenses”, end the ‘War on Drugs’, repeal all Federal drug laws, ‘mandatory sentencing’ laws, firearms laws, compulsory attendance laws; sell all Federal “parks” or return them to their States, freeze Social Security benefits for all current recipients, eliminate FICA deductions, repeal Social Security. Eliminate “minimum wage” laws. Repeal all Federal “marriage” laws. Repeal ObamaCare. Repeal all Federal laws, licensing, regulations interfering re interstate commerce (Wickard vs Filburn) including insurance marketing/coverage. Strictly observe 9th/10th Amendments. Repeal 17th Amendment. Cancel “foreign aide”; encourage private contributions to disaster and similar areas. Dismantle Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac. Repeal “Eminent Domain”. Repeal any/all other Federal laws regulating the peaceful exercise personal choice.

    Since the Rules state: “… you being in control, total control. You may effect [sic] whatever changes you wish. The catch is that your total control lasts for one week.”, I would take full advantage of the “total control” provision and, in the tradition of Kobayashi Maru, change said Rules to extend my time until all goals are successfully accomplished.
    Barring all that, I’m with Ludwig…

    1. Brian,

      It is not hard to see your position. I have no problems with anything you suggested (save extending your own rule).

      Your approach would certainly get us closer to the freedom and liberty that was originally intended and allowed America to thrive. However, existing and new politicians would have the same incentives to resurrect what you eliminated. The country started (18th Century) reasonably and ended up here. A re-start would return more quickly to today’s mess as attitudes, integrity and the notions regarding political plunder have all deteriorated.

      Your approach is similar to the neutron bomb. I have always thought the best reason to continue work on this weapon was Washington itself. Use it there and all the ugly people go away and the not-so-ugly buildings remain. The problem is that there is no limit to politicians (and all are or become evil if allowed) . They would return in different bodies but with similar intentions. It would only be a matter of time before the extinction of liberty and freedom resumed and the plunder ratcheted back up.

      Your approach would be an enormous improvement. I fear it doesn’t last very long, though. My approach is to change political incentives so that even evil men might find it attractive to come to conclusions similar to yours.

      Regardless of what you and I think, this exercise is an exercise in fantasy. Despite that, it is self-satisfying to know that you could make things better even though you will not be empowered to do so.

      I continue to work on these ideas and will be discussing some of them shortly.


    1. Sadly, not strong enough and too easy to wiggle around (run for Senate, then House, then Senate, etc.). Also, does not change the incentives in Washington.

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