Harry Browne in Why Government Doesn't Work

On Principles & Values: Government means use of force instead of persuasion

What is government? What makes it different from IBM or the Boy Scouts or a local security company? What separates government from the rest of society isn’t its size, its disregard for profit, its foresight, or its scope.
The distinctive feature of government is coercion-the use of force & the threat of force to win obedience. This is how government differs from every other agency in society. The others persuade; government compels.
For example, when someone demands that government help flood victims, he is saying he wants to force people to pay for flood relief. Otherwise, he’d be happy to have the Red Cross handle everything. Nothing involving government is voluntary-as it would be when a private company does something. One way or another, there is compulsion in every government activity.
People seek the help of charity organizations [and so on] to urge others to support some cause. People turn to government to force others to support their cause.
Source: Why Government Doesn’t Work, by H. Browne, p. 9-10 Jul 2, 1995

On Government Reform: Government feeds growth of more government

By preventing people and companies from taking care of themselves, government feeds its own growth.
Source: Why Government Doesn’t Work, by H. Browne, p. 17-18 Jul 2, 1995

On Homeland Security: War destroys without resolving issues

It’s easy to ignore [past government] failures all about us as we imagine that the next scheme will operate efficiently and fairly. This blindness afflicts people still hoping to make the world safe for democracy. WWI didn’t convince them otherwise. Nor did WWII. One can support the newest foreign military adventure only by ignoring the wreckage left by all previous military adventures.
After the 1991 war against Iraq ended, many people continued to feel the US had been right to become involved. Some of them said, in effect, “Going to war was the right thing to do, but it didn’t settle anything because the US didn’t go all the way and remove Saddam Hussein from power.” So, despite killing thousands of people and spending billions of dollars, the war failed to settle matters. Why? because the government mishandled the project. But when has the government handled anything correctly? Was is just one more government program.
Source: Why Government Doesn’t Work, by H. Browne, p. 26-27 Jul 2, 1995

On Principles & Values: Taxes and regulations are forms of government use of force

All government activities require coercion--violence or the threat of it. You can always locate the coercion if you look for it.
First, the activity probably costs money--which was taken by force from people, whether or not they wanted the program. Almost no one volunteers to pay taxes.
Second, people are coerced to participate in the program [by regulations, inspections, and required forms]. If you fail to comply, you may be forced to pay a fine or may even be sent to prison. This can happen even if you are a peaceful, productive citizen--someone who has committed no violence against anyone, has stolen from no one, and hasn’t defrauded anyone.
After all the lesser penalties have been exhausted--the demands, the fines, the jail sentence-- if you continue to resist, the government will use a gun. The gun is always there. The gun is the essence of a law.
When someone asks for a government program, he is saying in effect, “Tell the plice to use their guns to get me what I want.”
Source: Why Government Doesn’t Work, by H. Browne, p. 28-29 Jul 2, 1995

On Health Care: Government can improve health care by getting out of it

    Government can help the health-care system only by getting out of it. It has no more ability to make us well than it does to make us rich. Here’s a laundry list of things to be washed out:
  1. Abolish the FDA. Let people decide for themselves, with the help of their doctors and private testing agencies they choose for themselves, which medicines are safe enough for them.
  2. Save Medicare by turning it over to private companies. Let seniors pick their own polices. Let them earn as much money as they want without losing benefits.
  3. Abolish Medicaid. Let each state’s citizens decide for themselves whether they want a government program to provide health care to the needy.
  4. Solve the portability problem by making all medical expenses totally deductible from taxable income.
  5. Get state governments to stop imposing conditions on health insurance. Don’t require individuals to pay for benefits they don’t want. Don’t force insurance companies to take customers they don’t want.
Source: Why Government Doesn’t Work, by H. Browne, p.109-10 Jul 2, 1995

On Education: Teaching non-academic topics is cause of declining SATs

Since none of those subjects shows up on the SAT tests, it’s not surprising that SAT scores declined so much.
Source: Why Government Doesn’t Work, by H. Browne, p.112-3 Jul 2, 1995

On Crime: 5-point plan reduces govt role in crime enforcement

    The crime wave of the past 30 years isn’t a result of soft-on-crime attitudes. I believe there are 5 steps needed to lower the crime rate substantially & bring back the peaceful society America had 35 years ago. All 5 call for less government.
  1. Stop locking up non-violent offenders. Prison facilities should be reserved for those who murder, rape, assault, and rob.
  2. End Washington’s War on Drugs. If drugs were legal, there would be no drive-by shootings, no unjust entries or arrests, & no pushers hanging around schoolyards.
  3. End property seizures. Asset-forfeiture laws invite law-enforcement agencies to finance their activities by taking property on flimsy pretexts.
  4. Repeal gun-control laws.
  5. The laws start by banning something no reasonable person is likely to want-and then become more and more restrictive, until the ban is total.
  6. Keep the federal government out. All crime is local; it occurs in the jurisdiction of some police department or sheriff’s department.
Source: Why Government Doesn’t Work, by H. Browne, p.129-36 Jul 2, 1995

On Drugs: War on Drugs is a crusade against victimless crimes

The crusade against victimless crimes reaches the apex of absurdity in the War on Drugs. It is the quintessential example that government doesn’t work. Government has failed completely to stop people from taking drugs. It can’t stop drugs from coming into the country. It can’t even stop drugs from getting into its own prisons. And yet the politicians keep telling us that the next freedom taken from us will be the price that finally pays off in getting drugs off the streets and away from our children.

It ought to be obvious by now that this War will never be won. Government can’t stop the supply, it can’t reduce the demand, and its strong-arm tactics don’t work. We have paid for this fruitless crusade in billions of tax dollars, the corruption of police forces, the loss of civil liberties, soaring crime rates, and gang warfare. The War has served only to undermine our protections against reckless law enforcement-and to make life easier for violent criminals.

Source: Why Government Doesn’t Work, by H. Browne, p.130-1 Jul 2, 1995

On Drugs: Truth is a casualty in the War on Drugs

Truth is a casualty in the War on Drugs. Because they’re in a losing battle, the Drug Warriors grow progressively more hysterical in trying to justify their activities. It has become impossible to discuss calmly any issue concerning drugs. Much of the misery coming from illegal drugs occurs because they are illegal. People sometimes die or become sick from poorly formulated illegal drugs or from overdoses of them, because the law prevents reputable companies from providing a safe product in standard doses.
Source: Why Government Doesn’t Work, by H. Browne, p.132-3 Jul 2, 1995

On Crime: Most federal law enforcement is unconstitutional

The Constitution specifies only three federal crimes-treason, piracy, and counterfeiting. And yet the Congress has passed federal laws against kidnapping, gun ownership, drug use, “hate crimes,” discrimination, fraud, carjacking, vandalism, pornography, and dozens of other activities that have no national significance.

Federal laws interfere with local police work and violate the Constitution. They also allow government to circumvent the Bill of Rights and subject citizens to double jeopardy. If a jury acquits someone of violating a state gun-control law, for example, he can be re-tried for violating a federal gun-control law-even though the second trial is for the same act.

The federal government has no special wisdom, no special authority, and no special ability to fight crime. The Founding Fathers thought that would be a terrible idea. The past 35 years have confirmed their wisdom. The federal government’s involvement in local law-enforcement has helped the guilty and hurt the innocent.

Source: Why Government Doesn’t Work, by H. Browne, p.136-7 Jul 2, 1995

On Free Trade: “Trade aggression” meaningless, since both sides benefit

Politicians describe foreign trade as though it were a war between countries-with winners & losers. But, for example, every one of millions of Japanese cars was bought by an American who wanted it. Providing what someone wants isn’t aggression. Barring Japanese companies from selling cars is forcibly preventing Americans from getting what they want-which is aggression. Most politicians miss the whole point of international trade. It isn’t a game or a war. Each transaction benefits both sides.
Source: Why Government Doesn’t Work, by H. Browne, p.149-50 Jul 2, 1995

On Social Security: SSI tax has risen from 2% to 15% & will continue to rise

The Social Security tax has risen from a combined employer-employee rate of 2% in 1935 to today’s combined tax of 15.3%. And there’s no reason to believe the tax rate won’t continue to rise. As administered by politicians, Social Security is inherently unworkable, because the politicians always spend the money they take in. As the retired population grows, it requires higher taxes to pay the benefits the politicians have promised.
Most people think Congress would never renege on its promises to Social Security recipients-no matter how bad federal finances become. But when the only alternative is to raise the Social Security tax rate to 35% or 40%-or to cut off food stamps to the poor-there may be no choice but to cut Social Security benefits.
Millions of people depend on Social Security today. They worked for decades. Their plans assumed that Social Security would provide for them when they retired. I believe these people must be taken care of. But I don’t trust the government to do it.
Source: Why Government Doesn’t Work, by H. Browne, p.162-3 Jul 2, 1995

On Social Security: One-time pay off of all people over 50, with means testing

The government should buy from a private insurance company an annuity for everyone who depends on Social Security. The annuities should provide lifetime incomes similar to what Social Security has promised. I estimate the cost to be roughly $5 trillion.
Annuities should be provided only for those who truly need them. This means some kind of simple, non-intrusive means test must be applied to each retiree. Those that don’t rely on Social Security shouldn’t aggravate the problem further. The maximum monthly Social Security benefit is $1,100; there are many retired people to whom that isn’t a critical amount.
People over the age of 50 who are nearing retirement and who have made plans based on receiving Social Security should also receive annuities. Those annuities would be smaller and wouldn’t begin paying out until age 65.
And what about those under 50? To them we offer the greatest gift possible: You will never again have to pay the 15% Social Security tax.
Source: Why Government Doesn’t Work, by H. Browne, p.167-8 Jul 2, 1995

On Budget & Economy: Get rid of $5 trillion debt by selling federal assets

We have to get rid of the federal debt-the $5 trillion worth of credit card bills the politicians have charged to us. A good deal of the debt has been used to buy or build things. They may not seem valuable because of the way they’re used now. But they might become much more valuable if sold to people who knew how to use them productively.
For example, the federal government owns 29% of all the land in the US, a total of 1 million square miles. As of 1991 it owned 441,000 buildings.
If we shrink the government to what the Constitution permits, it won’t need most of those assets. In fact, over 90% of them could be sold-returned to the American people to be used productively.
    If the federal government’s unneeded assets can be sold for $12 trillion, we can achieve the following:
  1. [Pay all recipients] of Social Security a private annuity
  2. Balance the budget
  3. Pay off the entire federal debt
  4. Repeal all federal income taxes
  5. Drop taxes at all levels from 49% to 28%.
Source: Why Government Doesn’t Work, by H. Browne, p.174-8 Jul 2, 1995

On Families & Children: Enforcing “responsible entertainment” is censorship

Do we really want government to protect family values? Politicians lash out at movies, TV and popular music. But they say they don’t want to censor anyone. They just want entertainers to be more responsible.
But what does a politician mean by “responsibility”? And why must entertainers worry about it? If entertainers aren’t breaking the law, and if people want to listen or watch, who cares what the politician-critic thinks?
Politicians rail against the entertainment industry because they know that millions of people deplore the social decay of the past 40 years; and politicians don’t understand what caused this and they don’t know what to do to correct it. So they rail against entertainers-hoping to impress the voters who care about these things.
When their policies produce no positive change, they may “reluctantly” turn to the only weapon they have-censorship. Censorship isn’t the answer. Government doesn’t work, and so censorship doesn’t work.
Source: Why Government Doesn’t Work, by H. Browne, p.187-8 Jul 2, 1995

On Government Reform: Require shorter bills so legislators actually read them

One sign of a government run amok is that many Congressional bills are hundreds of pages long-and they often include dozens of provisions that are irrelevant to the bills’ topics. Congressmen rarely read the bills they vote for, and Presidents almost never read them before signing them. Everyone relies on aides and “experts” to assess the bills-and even the latter can’t read a bill that is rushed through to a vote or altered at the last minute. But the regulators read all these bills thoroughly and enforce every provision.
I will not sign any bill I haven’t read. I will consult with advisors, but I will always make the final decision myself, based on what a bill actually says. If a bill is too long for me to read during the ten days the Constitution give the President to make a decision, I will veto it automatically. If a bill is ambiguous or too complicated to understand, I will veto it-even if I think it might be aimed in the right direction.
Source: Why Government Doesn’t Work, by H. Browne, p.206-7 Jul 2, 1995

On Health Care: Medicare has caused higher health costs

Medicare provides a good example [of how government doesn’t work]. It was created in 1965 to make it easier for the elderly to get health care. But by reducing the patient’s out-of-pocket costs, it increased the demand for doctors and hospitals. And it reduced the supply of those services by requiring doctors and other medical personnel to use their time and attention handling paperwork and complying with regulations. So the price of medical care rose sharply as the demand soared and the supply diminished.
As a result, the elderly now pay from their own pockets over twice as much for health care (after adjusting for inflation) than they did before Medicare began. And most older people now find it harder to get adequate medical service. Naturally, the government points to the higher costs and shortages as proof that the elderly would be lost without Medicare--and that government should be even more deeply involved.
Source: Why Government Doesn’t Work, by Harry Browne, p. 15 Jul 2, 1995

On Government Reform: Constitution gives people freedom FROM government

The essence of America was an abundance of something rarely found in other countries: freedom from government. America’s Founding Fathers established the first government strictly limited by a written constitution to a short list of activities. The Constitution didn’t limit what citizens could do. Its only purpose was to spell out what was permissible for the federal government to do. And anything not authorized was forbidden to the federal government.

Some state governments had hesitated to ratify the Constitution--fearing that it didn’t make entirely clear how limited the federal government’s role was to be. So the Bill of Rights was added to forestall any misunderstanding. Thus began a momentous experiment to tame the monster of government. And it was very clear to the fathers of the Constitution that government is a monster. As George Washington said: “Government is not reason; it is not eloquence. It is force. Like fire it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.

Source: Why Government Doesn’t Work, by Harry Browne, p. 36-8 Jul 2, 1995

On Budget & Economy: Great Depression was caused by federal monetary policies

In the late 1920s, the Federal Reserve System put new money into circulation in the US as part of a misguided scheme to bail the British government out of its fiscal problems. When the monetary increase threatened to bring on price inflation, the Federal Reserve stomped on the brakes and pulled money out of circulation--bringing on the crash of 1929 and starting a recession.
The Federal Reserve persisted in its policy, allowing the nation’s money supply to shrink by 30% between 1929 and 1933. Meanwhile, President Hoover increased government spending, raised income taxes, and pressured large companies to keep prices and wages high, producing a glut of unsold products and mass unemployment.
Previous recessions lasted only a year or so, because the government always stood aside and let the economy recover its balance. But this time, government actively intruded--and transformed the recession into a prolonged depression.
Source: Why Government Doesn’t Work, by Harry Browne, p. 42-3 Jul 2, 1995

On Government Reform: Great Society: federal takeover of ed., welfare, crime

Until 1960 the federal government had practically nothing to do with education, crime control, or welfare (except Social Security). But by 1975, Great Society programs led to the federal government dominating all three areas.
In each case the pattern was the same: The federal government provided financial subsidies to state and local governments--and, once the governments became dependent on the money from Washington, the Feds imposed conditions for continuing to receive it.
Although the money for a community comes from citizens in that same community, routing it through Washington allows the Feds to set the rules. Thus they began setting standards for school curricula, welfare eligibility, and police procedures and budgets.
By taking control away from communities, the federal government made schools, police, and welfare systems even more remote from the people who pay for them and rely upon them--and made them more susceptible to fraud and graft, and to meddling by social reformers.
Source: Why Government Doesn’t Work, by Harry Browne, p. 44-5 Jul 2, 1995

On Welfare & Poverty: Community-based welfare ensured oversight & honesty

Before the 1960s, a person who needed help appealed to a local charity (such as the Salvation Army) or to the town government. The downtrodden individual had to explain how he got into trouble and how he intended to work his way out of it. He was monitored closely to assure that he was telling the truth and that he stuck to his plan to get back on his feet. And he knew that the money he received came from the pockets of his neighbors. Federal welfare requires nothing more than filling out a form.
Source: Why Government Doesn’t Work, by Harry Browne, p. 45 Jul 2, 1995

On Government Reform: Abolishing agencies only way to stop them from growing back

    Each reduction in government has to be complete. Reducing an agency to a small fraction of its current size leaves intact the mechanism by which it can grow back again. Like a weed it has to be pulled out by the roots--not cut back. In each case, there are only two realistic choices:
  1. Get rid of the program and get rid of it quickly.
  2. Or resign ourselves to living with it forever.
There is no middle ground.
Source: Why Government Doesn’t Work, by Harry Browne, p. 74-5 Jul 2, 1995

On Technology: Competition makes high tech work--keep it unregulated

Is the computer market exceptional? Yes, it is. It is one of the least regulated markets in America. If other industries don’t progress at such a fast clip, it’s not because they’re older and more settled. It’s because they’re more heavily regulated.
Source: Why Government Doesn’t Work, by Harry Browne, p. 87-8 Jul 2, 1995

On Health Care: 1992 Health Plan all about coercion, not compassion

In the health care debate of 1992-4, words like compassion, right, need, & fairness showed up frequently. But a number of relevant words were ignored. For example, I never heard the words force or coercion in public discussion about the issue. Yet the Health Security Act, the President’s 1993 proposal for universal health insurance, had a great deal to do with force. There are some revealing terms in the proposal--such as prison (which shows up 7 times), penalty (111 times), fine (6), enforce (83), prohibit (47), mandatory (24), limit (231), obligation (51), require (901), and so on.

But coercion is nothing new in government-run health care, Medicare already has plenty of fines and penalties. The health care debate has ignored the most important factor: government involvement in health care means forcing people and institutions to do what they don’t want to do. And such plans never work out as promised.

Source: Why Government Doesn’t Work, by Harry Browne, p.101 Jul 2, 1995

On Education: Importance of education no reason for govt control

If important things [like education] must be handled by government, why doesn’t government provide free food-as it provides free schooling? One could live without knowing how to read, but no one can live without food. So why doesn’t government operate the supermarkets?

Imagine what it would be like. The food stores would become what the schools have become. Political battles would decide which foods are available. If you don’t like the choices, you’d have to attend “food board” meetings. Food would become more and more expensive, even as the quality deteriorated. And don’t get caught praying in a supermarket.

Now let’s reverse the picture. Imagine instead that schools were operated like today’s supermarkets. Most school systems would offer a variety of approaches to any one subject-just as a supermarket offers a variety of brands for any one food item. And if you didn’t like what one school offered, or if you didn’t like the way your child was treated, you could patronize another school.

Source: Why Government Doesn’t Work, by Harry Browne, p.115 Jul 2, 1995

On Education: Vouchers better than public schools; no govt is best

The success of private schools-even private schools on skimpy budgets-has inspired the idea of “school choice” or “vouchers.” I understand well the attraction of this approach. And it might be an improvement over today’s poor schooling.
But government doesn’t work. And giving government control over education-in any form-is dangerous. A voucher program means requires a government bureaucracy to administer it and government “experts” to decide which schools are “qualified” to accept the vouchers.
It is especially dangerous to have the federal government administer such a program or set the rules for it. The Feds are too far removed from local school issues to have any competence in education.
It is far better to lower the tax burden so that parents are financially able to buy the education they want-with no rules imposed by government. Then each family could send its children to any school they want-or teach them at home.
Source: Why Government Doesn’t Work, by Harry Browne, p.116 Jul 2, 1995

On Education: Feds out of education and states out of education

    There are two important changes that must be made to improve education:
  1. The federal government must get completely out of education. It has made a bad situation much worse. And it has no Constitutional authority to meddle in education in any way- even if it were capable of helping.
  2. Federal taxes must be lowered dramatically so that parents have the ability to finance their children’s education directly.
Source: Why Government Doesn’t Work, by Harry Browne, p.117 Jul 2, 1995

On Welfare & Poverty: Welfare perverts natural incentives & hence destroys lives

The people who have been seduced by welfare have become wards of the state, unable to fend for themselves, with no self-respect and no self-confidence. Is this compassion?
Source: Why Government Doesn’t Work, by Harry Browne, p.120 Jul 2, 1995

On Welfare & Poverty: 8-month transition, then end all welfare checks

Would a transition program ease the move from today’s welfare system to a completely private, voluntary system? We have to remind ourselves over and over that government doesn’t work. So any government program to ease people off welfare--by retraining them or educating them--won’t work any better than the current welfare system works. The next President should announce to all people receiving welfare checks from the federal government:
If I have my way, your federal welfare payments will end in eight months. So you have eight months to turn your life around, to find a job, to learn to take care of yourself.
We expect to pay you for those eight months. So if you get a job tomorrow morning, you can get two checks each month for those eight months. Or you can wait until the last moment to change things. But even if you haven’t found a job in eight months, your checks from the federal government will end.
So what are you going to do?
Source: Why Government Doesn’t Work, by Harry Browne, p.125 Jul 2, 1995

On Crime: No prison for victimless crimes nor white-collar crimes

No one should be in prison for prostitution, gambling, buying or selling handguns, pornography, or selling drugs. As much as you may disapprove of these activities, all of government’s high-cost huffing and puffing hasn’t slowed them, and it won’t. Government is incapable of stopping these enterprises.

People who are guilty of fraud, embezzlement, or other white-collar crimes shouldn’t be locked up either, if there is any reasonable prospect that they can make restitution-to their victims, not the government. Prison time should be reserved for repeat offenders who don’t make restitution.

Possession of a weapon (of any kind) should be considered a crime only if it’s used to injure or threaten someone.

[We should] clear the prisons of non-violent offenders. They are no threat to society, but locking them up diverts prison cells, police resources, and court time from the violent thugs who are threatening us.

Source: Why Government Doesn’t Work, by Harry Browne, p.129 Jul 2, 1995

On Drugs: Marijuana is not unconditionally evil; allow medical use

Marijuana is very effective in relieving chronic pain; alleviating nausea for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy; and treating glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and other medical conditions. No one has ever been known to die from smoking marijuana, and no scientific study has indicated that smoking marijuana leads inevitably to heavier drugs. But the Drug Warriors prefer to let patients suffer, rather than acknowledge that marijuana isn’t an unconditional evil.
Source: Why Government Doesn’t Work, by Harry Browne, p.133 Jul 2, 1995

On Gun Control: Prosecute crimes, not possession of weapons

Gun control laws inconvenience the innocent while providing no deterrent to criminals. The latter rarely patronize gun shops, endure waiting periods, or register their firearms. They buy their guns in the underworld, or they simply steal them.

But innocent citizens who obey the laws are left defenseless-and become safe targets for criminals. Gun control laws don’t reduce crime, but passing them gives politicians another soap-box opportunity to pose as crime-fighters. Conservative politicians act tough by repealing the Bill of Rights, while liberal politicians act tough by outlawing weapons. Neither action reduces the crime rate. But both undermine our freedoms.

If guns kill people, so do knives, cars, baseball bats, and icicles. None of these things should be outlawed. But more of the people who misuse them would be prosecuted if the police, the courts, and the prisons weren’t overloaded dealing with victimless crimes-including gun control violations.

Source: Why Government Doesn’t Work, by Harry Browne, p.135 Jul 2, 1995

On Homeland Security: Wars have historically established nothing

Politicians always justify war as being necessary for the greater good. They speak movingly of giving one’s life for one’s country. But it’s always someone else’s life they’re talking about.
Source: Why Government Doesn’t Work, by Harry Browne, p.140 Jul 2, 1995

On Free Trade: Free trade guarantees peace better than military

The greatest guarantor of peace isn’t a strong military. It is free trade among countries. When people can buy & sell freely with another country, they have good reason to discourage their leaders from going to war with that country. This interdependence is a far more reliable guarantor of peace that foreign aid, arms sales, and treaties.
When a government excludes other countries from sources of raw materials of from markets for their wares, it undermines the economic motives for maintaining peace.
Source: Why Government Doesn’t Work, by Harry Browne, p.148 Jul 2, 1995

On Homeland Security: 6-point plan to get government out of war programs

    There is so much we can do to avoid war-to assure that America’s youth never go to war again, and that our lives and homes are secure against foreign attack:
  1. End all loans & giveaways to foreign governments & international agencies. Stopping giveaways keeps our government from taking sides in foreign disputes.
  2. Get out of all alliances, treaties, & international organizations. America doesn’t need to be a joiner to have good relations with the rest of the world.
  3. End all arms sales by the government.
  4. Open our markets to goods & services from all over the world. Nothing could do more to give foreign people a vested interest in keeping the peace with us.
  5. When a foreign leader threatens the US, announce that carrying out any warlike act against us will lead to a multi-million-dollar reward for his assassination.
  6. Establish a defense that protects against missiles launched from anywhere in the world-a system built by private companies competing for a reward.
Source: Why Government Doesn’t Work, by Harry Browne, p.158 Jul 2, 1995

On Budget & Economy: Politicians don’t want to reduce government

We have to understand that politicians don’t want to reduce government.And it isn’t because they think the spending cuts would hurt too many people. It’s because they know it would hurt them.
Unlike families and corporations, politicians don’t feel the burden of debt-only the elation of spending. So they have no incentive to restrain themselves. They can spend your money without limit to reward their friends.
No matter what they say, neither the Democrats nor Republicans want to give up the power that allows them to bestow favors and exemptions on friends.
Our salvation won’t come from politicians. We need people who will go to Washington not to reform government programs or to reduce them, but to get rid of them. We need leaders who don’t want to run the country, but who want to restore our right to run our own lives. We need legislators who don’t want to be politicians, but simply want to enjoy for themselves the freedom America once knew.
Source: Why Government Doesn’t Work, by Harry Browne, p.172 Jul 2, 1995

On Budget & Economy: Reduce budget from $1.5 trillion to $385 billion

If we shrink our government from its current yearly budget of $1.5 trillion down to just its constitutional functions, we could get by with a budget of only $100 billion a year plus the interest that has to be paid on the national debt (about $285 billion in 1995).
Does $100 billion seem to little? Consider this: In 1950, the total budget of the federal government, excluding interest, was only $241 billion (inflation-adjusted). In 1950 there were no Departments of Education, Energy, Housing, or Health & Human Services, no EPA, no War on Drugs, no National Endowment for the Arts, and no Equal Opportunity Commission. There were very few of the thousands of federal programs that today regulate our lives and monitor our every activity-and cost so much.
Source: Why Government Doesn’t Work, by Harry Browne, p.173 Jul 2, 1995

On Environment: Privatize grazing lands and national parks

Federal grazing lands should be privately owned, so its owners can negotiate with livestock owners for grazing rights-instead of conducting political battles over whether the government should charge ranchers more or less.
National parks should be sold to non-profit trusts and private companies who can continue to operate them for the public, but in ways that keep them clean and valuable, an incentive government employees don’t have.
Source: Why Government Doesn’t Work, by Harry Browne, p.177 Jul 2, 1995

On Tax Reform: 10% flat tax OK, if no income tax returns

The proposed flat tax is big and flat, because there’s no reduction in the size of the federal government. They say you’ll be able to file your tax return on a postcard. But there’s nothing to stop the IRS from demanding proof that the number you put on the postcard is correct.
A better arrangement-one that honors freedom & privacy-is a flat 10% tax on all income. No deductions, no exemptions. The 10% would be withheld from your paycheck and forwarded to the government by your employer-without your name attached.
You would not have to file a tax return because you’ve already paid your tax. The same would be true of all dividends and interest you earn; the company paying you would withhold 10% and forward it to the government.
The estate, gift, Social Security, and capital gains taxes would also be abolished. The government wouldn’t know how much you make, where you keep it, or what you do with it. Your financial life would be private, as it should be in a free country.
Source: Why Government Doesn’t Work, by Harry Browne, p.182 Jul 2, 1995

On Tax Reform: 5% sales tax OK, if income tax is eliminated

A possibility is to eliminate the income tax entirely, and put a 5% retail sales tax in its place. To prevent it from becoming a political football, there should be no exemptions-not for food, medicine, or anything else.
Most likely, the repeal of the personal and corporate income taxes would reduce prices enough that, even with a 5% sales tax, most things would cost less than they do today. But even if prices didn’t fall, the 5% tax would be much less oppressive than the current income tax.
The estate, gift, Social Security, and capital gains taxes would also be abolished. You would never again have to file a tax return, never have to fear the IRS, never have the government going through your records.
The federal government should reimburse every retailer for being a tax collector-by taking only 95% of whatever the retailer collects. The rest should be a fee to the retailer. The tax would produce about $250 billion-which can amortize the national debt and get rid of it.
Source: Why Government Doesn’t Work, by Harry Browne, p.183 Jul 2, 1995

On Families & Children: Less govt & lower taxes means better child raising

If you can imagine how much repealing the income tax would do for your family, imagine as well what it would do for other families-how much it would help children everywhere to grow up to be decent, peace-loving citizens.
Source: Why Government Doesn’t Work, by Harry Browne, p.190 Jul 2, 1995

On Abortion: Abortion is wrong, but govt has no role in it

Until science can demonstrate otherwise, I must assume that life begins at conception. Thus I believe that abortion is wrong-very wrong. But the government that can’t win a War on Poverty or a War on Drugs isn’t going to win a War on Abortion.
An unfortunate fact of life is that there always will be abortions, just as there always will be people who misuse drugs, no matter what the laws are.
The only practical solution to either problem is a program of education and persuasion-undertaken by people, not government. I applaud the dedication and efforts of those who work so hard to dissuade young women from rushing into abortions, who arrange adoptions, etc.
So long as we wait for government to solve this problem, the abortion clinics will operate at full speed. And, if we have any respect for the Constitution, it surely isn’t a matter in which the federal government has any role-either to facilitate or stop abortion, or to prevent state governments from stopping them.
Source: Why Government Doesn’t Work, by Harry Browne, p.191 Jul 2, 1995

On Government Reform: Government Doesn’t Work

    More and more Americans say they want government to be smaller. For example, recent polls have found that:
  1. 73% believe “the federal government is much too large and has too much power.”
  2. 67% believe “big government is the biggest threat to the country in the future.”
  3. 63% think “government regulation of business usually does more harm than good.”
  4. 60% “favor a smaller government with fewer services.”
  5. Only 22% “trust the government in Washington to do what is right most of the time.”
People everywhere recognize the simple truth that government doesn’t work. It is failing at everything it tries to do-even as politicians propose new worlds for it to conquer. The direction that most of us want is toward less government- a lot less government.
Source: Why Government Doesn’t Work, by Harry Browne, p.194 Jul 2, 1995

The above quotations are from Why Government Doesn't Work: How Reducing Government Will Bring Us Safer Cities Better Schools, by Harry Browne.
Click here for other excerpts from Why Government Doesn't Work: How Reducing Government Will Bring Us Safer Cities Better Schools, by Harry Browne.
Click here for other excerpts by Harry Browne.
Click here for a profile of Harry Browne.
Please consider a donation to OnTheIssues.org!
Click for details -- or send donations to:
1770 Mass Ave. #630, Cambridge MA 02140
E-mail: submit@OnTheIssues.org
(We rely on your support!)

Page last updated: Feb 26, 2019