Owned Government Would Tend to Good Government

If government were the personal property of some men, they would have no reason to engage in corruption, and very good reasons to avoid it. So there would be less corruption, and a truer focus on policies that really worked for the benefit of the people (ergo, on tradition). For, good policy engenders prosperity, and prosperity generates lots of revenues for the sovereign. Where the sovereign can profit honestly and honorably from wise government, there will tend to be wise government. The net present value to the sovereign of the income from the golden goose far outweighs the value of the slaughtered goose.

In practice, government is always owned. It’s just that such ownership is usually illicit, therefore informal and sub rosa, and the sovereign’s personal profit from the activities of government ostensibly abhorred; so that the sovereign cannot be seen to be profiting from the operations of government, and must therefore profit from them (as he certainly will) by corrupt, obscure means.

Better to have it all out in the open, and straightforward, and honest, as when we had kings.

11 thoughts on “Owned Government Would Tend to Good Government

  1. Pingback: Owned Government Would Tend to Good Government | @the_arv

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  3. It’s seems we have the opposite of transparency right now. Money and favors, with the gains they buy, end up being cloaked in a need for “privacy”. If the rules ownership favor a few before many can have a chance to participate then how can others feel as if they have ownership. I don’t have some romanticized ideal of a Marxist Paradise or Randian Utopia. What I look for is a system that functions for the benefit for the individual and the whole of society.

  4. Under Stalin, everything was owned by the Proletariat, and Stalin was the dictator of the Proletariat, so everything effectively was owned by Stalin. Yet I don’t think corruption, etc. disappeared. Leaders require backers, and backers require back scratching, and backers and leaders are to some extent fungible. So I think corruption is endemic in any political structure.

    • Yeah, there’s always going to be some corruption out there. Men sin. That’s all.

      But notice again the first line of the post:

      If government were the personal property of some men, they would have no reason to engage in corruption, and very good reasons to avoid it.

      The state was not Stalin’s personal property in law, but only in effect. The state was not Stalin’s personal property in law, but only in effect. The only way he could exercise the rights of ownership that in fact he held was corruptly. He could not be straightforward about it – no one could – even though everyone knew perfectly well what was going on.

      The greater the disparity between law and fact, the greater the likelihood and scale and depth and pervasion of corruption. In the case of the USSR, that disparity was total, for their law recognized no personal property to speak of, whatsoever; and so the USSR was completely corrupt.

      • I have to agree with Tolkien:

        There can only be one lord of the Ring.

        If all the property were in the hands of one Royal family, all related by blood, you would have fighting between factions within the Royal Family, and the King would have to play the factions off each other, and scratch the right backs to hold on to power. This back scratching is generally viewed as “corruption” from the outside (one family shaking down the populace for anything above subsistence). In fact, the whole set up smells of royal kleptocracy, perhaps there is no corruption because there is nothing without corruption to contrast with it.

        There is the commonwealth, and the private interest. Corruption in my mind is when the commonwealth is shorted to further private interest. Most leaders are more interested in holding onto power than serving the commonwealth, and corruption helps leaders hold onto power. This is true in any form of government.

      • The commonwealth is shorted to further private interest when government is owned de facto, but not de jure. When government is owned in fact and in law, the way that the sovereign optimizes his value on the state under his control is to enact and enforce laws and policies that benefit the commonwealth – which is to say, his revenue base, ergo the net present value of his revenues; which is to say, his own personal wealth. Ditto for his family, whatever their internecine squabbles. None of them would want to do anything to imperil the health of the goose that lays the golden eggs.

        The whole point of government owned de jure is that when profits from the operations of government – which is to say, state revenues from a more or less prosperous society, minus state expenses – are the legal property of some men, such men will (ceteris paribus) want to optimize their profits by enacting and enforcing laws and policies that redound to the general prosperity of the subjects under their authority, and thus to the optimization of their own profits.

        Owned government cannot forestall conflict, sin, or corruption altogether. That ain’t happening until the eschaton. But it would at least make corruption pointless – indeed, worse than pointless. Royal families would still fight over the rights to the revenues of the state, but they would all agree that such revenues ought to be optimized, and thus that optimal policies ought to be adopted.

  5. Pingback: This Week In Reaction (2017/04/23) - Social Matter

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