Running the Country

Mises said that “Society can continue to exist only on the foundation of private property.  Whoever champions the latter champions by the same token the preservation of the social bond that unites mankind, the preservation of culture and civilization.”

His quote highlights a fundamental problem in the way we talk about government: we say, quite habitually, that the government is “running the country.”  For example, we might contend that “Now that Obama is running the country, the depression will only get worse.”  The depression will probably get worse, but Obama isn’t running the country – government isn’t the foundation of society.  It is private interactions, such as trade and civil society or – as Mises suggests – possession of private property which are running the country.  We (myself of course included) should all stop giving the government so much undue credit.

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