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George Washington Cautions Obama

President George Washington was no political philosopher, but I came across this quote of his the other day which seemed stunningly applicable to today.

Washington said, "Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force; like fire, a troublesome servant and a fearful master. Never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action."

Could this not be a retort to President Obama in a speech given today?

Washington's underlying point is critical. Government is a giant, intrusive, and often counter-productive entity. It cannot be managed like a corporation or directed by eloquent rhetoric. The process of enacting law is extremely messy-- the bigger the legislation, the bigger the mess. For this reason, government ought to be confined and limited to certain select functions and not venture into being a market-managing, social engineering, everything-to-everyone force. Many have claimed to be able to be the ones who can finally run government efficiently because of their compromise ability or management skills or eloquence. We see this very prevalent today with our current president. If I can only give that 67th speech on healthcare, things will begin falling into place. But in fairness to President Obama, he is not nearly the first to attempt such a leadership tactic.

If one truly wanted to run a more manageable government, the only way to do so would be to significantly limited its scope, cut its size, and focus on reforming and improving a handful of its essential functions. Until then, President Washington is brilliant to compare government to fire. It sure can be useful, but don't complain when you frequently get burned.