Governments. Can't live with them, can't live without them, right? From first world countries to war-torn hellholes, bemoaning politicians is de rigueur. Yet for all their flaws, we tend to view our elected officials as a necessary evil, for if they weren't in office, the country would descend into anarchy. At least that's what we've always been told. The history books, however, would demur.
Less Laws, More Living
589 days. That's how long Belgian residents were forced to live without an elected government between 2010 and 2011. Due to disagreements between the Flemish and Walloons, a coalition could not be formed. While the two parties fought out their many differences, a former prime minister oversaw a bare bones government that handled the basic day-to-day operations.
Apocalyptic predictions abounded of what would happen to the rudderless country. A debt crisis would be inevitable, doom-mongers asserted. The fallout would affect Europe, they foretold. There would be anarchy. Chaos. Blood in the streets. In the event, the reality proved to be more banal. Nothing happened. Life went on as normal. And, by the time Belgium had entered the record books for its 589-day governmentless stint (a feat recently surpassed by Northern Ireland) its people had learned a lesson: the solution to better government might actually be less government.
The Creeping Hand of Big Government
Government can be likened to the bezel surrounding your smartphone screen: you want it to be as small as possible – ideally invisible. The invisible hand of government, with its system of checks and balances, is meant to serve the people through providing justice for all and supporting the most disadvantaged members of society. So how did we reach a state of affairs where the people are instead serving their government? Bloated civil service, ballooning government expenditure and a creeping barrage of laws have resulted in a top-heavy, tax-heavy behemoth that takes from the lowest rungs of society to prop up the top.