Individuals have the right to exercise sole dominion over their own lives so long as they do not forcibly interfere with the equal right of others. Governments throughout history have regularly operated on the opposite principle, that the state has the right to dispose of the lives of individuals and the fruit of their labor without their consent. Governments must not violate the rights of any individual namely:
The right to life. Under no conditions may government violate anyone's rights, by initiating force against others. A proper government is permitted to use force to retaliate against a thief who has initiated force against someone (in the act of robbing them). However, a proper government is not permitted to copy the means of private criminals by initiating force against its citizens. The government is not even permitted to rob them of their wealth--even, or rather especially, if the stolen loot is to be used for so called "noble" purposes, such as for the sick and poor. No end (even for the "poor") ever justifies an illegitimate means (the initiation of force).
The right to liberty of speech and action. All attempts to abridge the freedom of speech and press, as well as government censorship in any form should be avoided. No one may initiate force for any reason whatsoever, even if that alleged purpose is for the "public good". For is not the individual whose rights are being violated for the "public good", a member of the "public" also? How can such a violation be in the public's good? Is not his good also the good of the public, of which he is a member? The truth is, such violations are only in the irrational interests of a division of the public, but are not in the interests of the entire public.
The right to property. There should be no government interference with private property such as confiscation and nationalization. Moreover, robbery, trespass, fraud and misrepresentation should be condemned.
Since governments when instituted must not violate individual rights, all interference by government in the area of voluntary and contractual relations among individuals must be shunned. People should not be forced to sacrifice their lives and property for the benefit of others. They should be left free to deal with one another as free traders.
The storming of the KTN TV station and burning of The Standard newspapers in Kenya is evidence of what big government can do. When a government becomes big, civil society shrinks. Institutions such as the family, church, synagogue, mosque, community and the many voluntary associations that are the bedrock of development wither.
When a government is limited to securing individual rights to life, liberty and property, we have a government whose actions are designed to redress injury and otherwise let people alone. In short, a “big enough” government is one that is able to deter criminal actions and resist foreign aggressors. Beyond this, it is “too big”. May Africa know that the more the political process steers government into areas beyond its principal mission, the less well it does those few things.
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