Idaho Citizens for

Good Government

What IS Good Governent?

The image above gives us a new term – governance – which I believe is a subtle shift in the perception of the very role of government.
However this image does give us a good and simple summary of what most people want out of government.

It is difficult for a non-partisan organization like ICGG to educate voters within our two-party system without appearing to be partisan.

At any given time, the platforms of the various parties may have better or worse ideas about government’s role and purpose and because it is near impossible to elect a person to office without the use of a party, it would appear to be partisan when one is trying to get a better person elected to office. This becomes even harder when candidates running for a particular party don’t actually agree with that party’s platform.

What this image fails to convey is the purpose of government.

The Declaration of Independence lays out the purpose very clearly. To protect Life, Liberty and The pursuit of Happiness.

If we lose sight of that purpose, we fall into the above idea that an efficient and honest government is better than an inefficient and dishonest one.

But that makes a well-run techno-tyranny like say an idealistic communist China look good compared to a bumbling and stupid bureaucracy like the USG.

Thus the efficiency and transparency of government is not nearly as important as the amount and reach of government.

The core part of government that helps us achieve the purpose of our Declaration of Independence is the system of justice it uses.

The image points out the “Rule of Law” as being one of those good things we need but what kind of law are we talking about here?

Most voters don’t know that there are different kinds of law out there.

What most legislators and politicians seem to think is that law is a written form of control (“governance”). The state makes public policy and enacts laws to administer those policies. The courts read the codes and apply it to the case but in the case of public policy law, it is to make sure the citizen obeys the policies dictated by the code. In the case of martial law or war we use Admiralty Law, the law of the sea, which is designed to preserve society in times of emergency. Our government has declared a constant emergency since the Civil War ended.

This is very different from the Common Law (of peace) of our Constitution which above all has a policy of “do no harm”. That means that the ancient maxim of law known as “No Harm, No Crime”, from Greek times, is paramount in the administration of justice. The top question in court should not be “Did the citizen comply with the code” but “Was someone harmed by this action and if so, what is the appropriate remedy for the crime?”

Law in Common Law is a common sense application of the second commandment “Love thy neighbor as thyself”.

When a government applies this law to itself, we naturally and automatically get most of the “good” attributes we perceive as good governance.

Over time, our government has completely changed from what it was originally conceived as. Wars, constitutional amendments, corruption of the justice system, yellow journalism, and a lack of proper teaching of our history have all contributed to what many now call a “democracy” instead of a “republic”.

Many today have a perception of government as a way to create a more equal distribution of wealth and to guarantee to individuals a minimum amount of safety, security, wealth, health and freedom. But this is the impossible dream of a utopian socialist mindset.

Liberty, the ability to make choices that do not harm others, is different from freedom, the license to chose within a framework of public policy or within the will of the majority.

One is absolute and unchanging – do no harm – with true liberty preserved, while the other is anchored on the perceived will of a majority as implemented by public policy – which can and does change drastically over time.
The two-party system is a distraction and gives a perception of ballance but in reality is a Hegelian dialectic in action, over time forcing compromise of every concrete notion that our republic was founded on.

What I think separates the two party system is the perception that man is basically good vs the idea that man is basically evil.

If you think man is basically good, you are looking for a leader that has sufficient tallents to unify a people and we then grant him as much power as he needs to unify and lead us.

If you think man is basically evil, you do everything you can to separate powers and create checks on power to prevent anyone from having too much power – because we know it will eventually be abused.

The Common Law was the invention that achieved this separation of power. One standard under which all men must comply. An idea that came from the Bible which places God above all men and sets that God as the source of our rights.

King David, at the end of his life described the problem of evil in men this way:

2 Samuel 23:2
“The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me,
And His word was on my tongue.
The God of Israel said,
The Rock of Israel spoke to me:
‘He who rules over men must be just,
Ruling in the fear of God.
And he shall be like the light of the morning when the sun rises,
A morning without clouds,
Like the tender grass springing out of the earth,
By clear shining after rain.’

“Although my house is not so with God,
Yet He has made with me an everlasting covenant,
Ordered in all things and secure.
For this is all my salvation and all my desire;
Will He not make it increase?
But the sons of rebellion shall all be as thorns thrust away,
Because they cannot be taken with hands.
But the man who touches them
Must be armed with iron and the shaft of a spear,
And they shall be utterly burned with fire in their place.”

What this says to me is that justice must prevail and evil men are so clever that a rod of iron is needed to remove them from mischief.

The best system we have figured out so far is giving a jury the power to weild a rod over the case and then disbaning that jury so it will not corrupt over time.

There is much much more that could be writtin on this subject but I hope that it touches some main points that will help readers understand how the ICGG sees what good government is.


Sanford Staab – ICGG web editor