This post is part of the series Political Powers
Other posts in this series:
- Political Power (Current)
- Limiting Political Power
I have shown in a previous series that the existence of a government, the power to tax, imprison and fine individuals and the power to regulate are all necessary on occasion and sometimes morally permissible. However, this does not show that the acts and powers claimed by our present governments are either necessary or morally permissible. Before such things can be discussed one must understand the nature of both power (especially political power) and justice. Political power can be divided into three areas: monetary power, control and enforcement.
Monetary power is taxing and fining. This includes the means by which individuals are either taxed or fined, how much individuals are taxed or fined and how those numbers and methods are both determined and changed. Without money, no government can exist. Therefore, every government in history has had some way or other of taxing individuals. Taxes includes fees for use, permits, income tax, sales tax, property tax, head taxes (taxes for existing) and rental fees. Fines are only applied when an individual has transgressed the law, but they can and do enable the running of government. Taxation and fining are determined by the legislative powers of the government. The means of their change are also held by the same. The enforcement of both is usually a done by the police powers of the government (some have the military powers do it instead).
Control is the brains of the government. The includes legislation: both in particular cases (judges) and in universal cases (politicians) and regulation. Control is also includes the methods of legislation, the permitted authors and subjects of such and anything and etc. This means that many things not always considered legislation are in fact such. If permits are withheld from individuals who refuse to pay $200 to the public official’ s son, then this may count as legislation. If a law is no longer enforced, then that law may not count as legislation any longer. This also means that it may be unclear whether or not a particular ” law” really is a law or not. It may also be unclear sometimes even to experts what the laws are in particular situations. (Both situations are extremely damaging to democracies and present in today’ s governments).
Enforcement is the means by which those who refuse to obey legislation are punished. This includes both police and military powers. Police powers are defined as that power of enforcement whose aim is to protect the citizens of a country. Military powers are defined as that power of enforcement whose aim is to kill enemies of a country. This means that the current ” police” often use military powers, especially in the drug war. It also means that organizations not commonly considered to be ” police” are in fact such. If an organization is authorized by the government to detain individuals for any reason, to protect others with force or to enter or remove items of property then that organization is exercising police powers. If that organization uses these powers with secret authorization, or has authorization to kill enemies (however defined) then they are exercising military powers. This means that the United States Homeland Security is a police organization that sometimes exercises military powers.
Every government has these three aspects of necessity. Without money, the government cannot pay for itself. Without control, the government does not know what to do. Without enforcement, public order breaks down at the margins and the government eventually loses all credibility. Without credibility, each person acts according to his own reason at those same margins and the government eventually breaks down completely.
Continue reading this series:
Limiting Political Power