Stop the Presses: Politicians Lie

So Albert Arnold Gore, Jr. is a liar. Big deal. Next you're going to tell me other shocking news like: a week has seven days, two plus two is four, and cheesecake is fattening. Of course he's a liar-he's a politician! I am not bothered as much by Gore's lies as I am about his truths. Gore really hasn't lied too much about his core program and beliefs. He is going to make government much bigger and send us merrily along toward the slow death of liberty by a thousand cuts.

Are Democrats any more dishonest than their rival faction in our one-party regime, the Republicans? I go as far as to say that, in general, Democrats are more honest than Republicans are. Democrats tell us that government is a positive force for good (above and way beyond peacekeeping and dispute resolution), and they intend to make it an even bigger force for good. When they get into office, they always do as they had promised. Every Democratic president since Woodrow Wilson has increased the size and power of the federal government.

What do Republicans say? That big government stinks, rots, smells, is odoriferous. Did I say, "stinks"? They say they will cut the size of government, get government off our backs, have "no new taxes," trust the people not the government. What do they do in office? They increase the size, scope, and power of the government. Every Republican president since Herbert Hoover has increased the size and power of the federal government. Yes, even that great anarchocapitalist Ronald Reagan did so. He revved up the "war on drugs" (war on people who use drugs that are different from the ones we use). He revved up military spending. And he couldn't even get rid of one lousy, stinking, useless agency-the Department (for the prevention) of Education.

George W. Bush, unlike his running mate Albert Arnold Gore, Jr., is not a pathological liar. There is, however, a fundamental lie at the heart of Bush u2018s program. He says he prefers the private sector to the public sector. He says he is a constitutional strict constructionist. He says he trusts the people, not the government. But he is going to increase federal control over education, expand the reach of the Americans with Disabilities Act, maintain agricultural socialism, increase "federal gun prosecutions," create a new federal entitlement-prescription drugs, increase subsidies for low-income home buyers, spend "$3.6 billion to build 1,200 additional Community Health Centers," increase the size of the military, "resist the temptation to withdraw from the world," (read: maintain our global empire), and intensify the war on drugs. This man's entire platform is a lie!

No surprise there. All mainstream politicians are liars. Politics is the art of determining how organized force is to be used in society. Force is essentially a negative thing. It destroys things and prevents things from happening. Life, however, requires the production of positives-wealth, knowledge, ethical values, social bonds. While politicians, including George W. Bush, tell the people, oxymoronically, that government can be a force for good, government cannot be such since its only tools are negative-threats, imprisonment, roadblocks, shooting, bombing, strip searches and lethal injection. Politicians continually try to convince people of the truth of a metaphysical impossibility: that violence and the threat of violence can produce wealth, peace, happiness and social harmony. As Abraham Maslow said, "When the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem begins to resemble a nail." Both Gore and Bush intend to hammer us hard.

There is one thing government is good at: war. The negative means of government-bullets and bombs-are perfectly suited to accomplishing the negative goals of war-killing people and destroying property. Government is good at war because war is destruction, not production. Production is hard; destruction is easy. Only a genius like Frank Lloyd Wright could have built Fallingwater, a house built over a mountain stream in Southern Pennsylvania; any idiot with a few sticks of dynamite could destroy it in seconds.

So no one should be surprised that Gore and Bush are liars. America has been known to have a liar or two in the White House in recent years. Politicians lie and voters delude themselves with those lies. Politicians lie because they are greedy for power; voters are seduced by those lies because they are greedy for other people's money.

If you gave a politician truth serum and asked him what he did for a living, he would quote Tolstoy:

"I sit on a man's back choking him and making him carry me and assure myself and others that I am sorry for him and wish to lighten his load by all possible means – except by getting off his back."

If you gave truth serum to those who vote for these liars and asked them why they vote as they do, they would quote Frederic Bastiat who described government as "that great fiction by which everyone tries to live at the expense of everyone else."

October 10, 2000

James Ostrowski is an attorney practicing at 984 Ellicott Square, Buffalo, New York 14203; (716) 854-1440; FAX 853-1303. See his website at