It’s common for people to say the government is a referee, whose role is to enforce the rules in the politico-economic game so that no one gets an unfair advantage. OK, so the people who say this are typically eighth-grade civics teachers, the terminally naïve or apologists for the state. Still, we do hear it. There is some truth in the statement, but for the sake of accuracy let’s amend the concept a bit and say that government is a biased referee who protects his friends and influences the outcome of the game to advance his own agenda. Better?
Examples of the government taking sides instead of being the impartial guardian of life, liberty and property are legion, of course. Considering the federal government here, we see an almost endless list, from tariffs protecting favored industries (Sugar, anyone?) to tax incentives that cause malinvestment by encouraging funding of pet sectors (It’s easy being green these days.) to tax policies that seek to discourage the use of disfavored goods (Think nuclear power, oil and gas, coal…pretty much any fuel source that actually works.).