Governments lie. Some governments do it routinely. Some lie about certain issues, such as deficits and abusing power. A common lie is to blame the opposing political party for whatever problems plague government. Governments distort the truth so they can stay in power.
Governments specialize in believable lies, ones that stroke the emotional heartstrings of certain groups of voters. Examples are clarion calls for class warfare, political war waged against certain groups of citizens, like wealthy people or successful business owners.
If sovereign governments are willing to wage live wars that kill their own citizens to get what they want, lying is a minor transgression in comparison, justified in the minds of some politicians. Lyndon Johnson lied about the Tonkin Gulf attack, and sent American soldiers to fight. God save us from the atrocities committed in the name of government righteousness, including the immorality of confiscating money earned legally by some citizens to give to others who haven’t earned it. Buying votes. Instead of government admitting they rob people, they call it “raising revenue” or “redistributing wealth.” And when caught red-handed, politicians sometimes (off the record) justify lying and immoral behavior because it’s “for the greater good.”
Another huge problem threatening our future is that government lies will continue to be drummed into the malleable, undiscerning heads of U.S. youth, as they absorb lessons in government-sponsored classrooms.
Newspapers and TV are often complicit in government lies. They have two favorite ways to boost government. First, they choose themes to write about that sanctify the actions of government while ignoring topics that don’t. Second, they ignore the preponderance of factual evidence as the basis for editorial opinions, exampled by their near-universal support for government policies declaring that humans create global warming.
Government immorality rises to astounding heights when it foists its uncapped power against certain citizens or groups who get entangled in government economic regulations. Many such government rules are designed to be self serving and self-enriching. The most recent example is the lawsuits filed Friday by the chief federal housing regulator against 17 banks, demanding $196 billion. Nowhere do these lawsuits acknowledge that most of the bank actions being complained about occurred because of mandates imposed on those banks by other federal agencies. One arm of government forced banks to sell high risk sub-prime loans to poor-credit-risk borrowers and financially penalized banks that did not do so; and now another arm of that same government is suing the banks for complying with the earlier mandates.
Beyond all this, government’s worst violation of moral standards is when it uses its power to attempt to intimidate and silence its critics, and to fine or tax its citizens so it will have more money to expand itself.
“All governments are run by liars,” said rebel journalist I. F. Stone, echoed by scientist Carl Sagan. In a republic, we must dare to question authority, and confront the untruths of our own governments when they engage in corruption and lying, just as we should praise them when they do grand things. Free speech, a free press, and courageous conviction is essential to this process. Just because government holds a monopoly on the legal use of plunder and force doesn’t mean we have to endure excessiveness lying down. We must have no master but our conscience when it comes to calling government out into the street for a showdown.