If You Were King
If You Were King (The Dictator Syndrome)
Excerpted from chapter 5 of Why Government Doesn't Work, by Harry Browne
Government grows also because
well-meaning people like you and me believe it should do certain things
that seem beyond controversy
I call this The Dictator Syndrome.
You see suffering or danger, and in your imagination you see a
government program eliminating it. But in the real world the program
would operate as you expect only if you were an absolute dictator
Just for a moment, think about something
you wish the government would do and that nearly everyone would like to
To get it enacted you'll need political allies, since alone you have only limited influence. But other people will support your plan and work for it only if you modify it in dozens of ways that further their goals and satisfy their opinions.
Suppose you make the necessary compromises and amass enough support to pressure the politicians to vote for your revised program. Who will write the actual law? You? Of course not. It will be written by the same legislators and aides who created all the laws, programs, and problems you object to now. Each of them will compromise your program still further to satisfy his political supporters.
And if the law passes, who will
administer it? You? Of course not. It will be implemented by
And, lastly, the new law probably will
generate many disputes
By the time your program has run this gauntlet, it will be far bigger and far more expensive (in money and disrupted lives) than you had imagined. And it will have been twisted to satisfy many factions. In fact, your program may end up being the opposite of what you had intended.
--Browne, Harry, Why Government Doesn't Work, Chapter 5, "If You Were King (The Dictator Syndrome), St, Martin's Press, New York, NY, 1995, pp 20-21
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