Government Should be a Referee, Not a Player


Milton Friedman hits the nail on the head in discussing the only things a centralized government was ever meant to do. Protect the borders and repel invasions, enforce contracts willingly entered into by adult participants, and bring criminals to justice when they violate the rights of another person.

This means that if there was no victim, there would be no crime. This means that military intervention overseas would never be okay unless it was taking out a legitimate, direct and immediate threat to the United States security. This also means that the government wouldn’t force some companies out of business, regulate others to benefit their competitors, nor promote others through cronyism.

Government should be the referee, not the player. The government shouldn’t be picking which businesses survive and which fail. The government should not be oppressing small farmers to benefit big farmers. The government should not be making up crimes when no one has been victimized. The government should only be stepping in to settle disputes between players, protect the players from unruly fans, and blow the whistle when a player violates the established rules—rules which likewise are not arbitrary, but can only be broken when they involve force against another player.

But we live in a world where countless “good intentions” make the people rally for the government to become a player in the game. But who among us would want a player with the type of power the ref has? That is a recipe for corruption, because obviously, the ref’s powers will be used to make the ref and his friends win the game. And the players without special connections to the ref will always lose.

2 thoughts on “Government Should be a Referee, Not a Player

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