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The Importance of Preventing the Abuse of Power

Abuso de poder, El American


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In various parts of the free world, the state oversteps its powers and trample people’s rights. This is evidenced by ever-increasing government expenditures, unbearable taxes, aberrant monetary manipulations, astronomical public debts and asphyxiating regulations for the legitimate activities of their citizens.

As I have stated several times, among many others, the Argentine constitutionalist Juan González Calderón highlights the degradation of democracy that has been occurring contrary to what has been stipulated time and again by the Giovanni Sartori of our time. Thus, Gonzalez Calderon argues that “the democrats of numbers do not even understand numbers since they start from two false equations: 50% + 1% = 100% and 50% – 1% = 0%.”

Unfortunately, the democratic idea has been distorted by establishing its formal, secondary and accessory aspect of the votes of majorities or first minorities, confusing it with the main thing, which is the respect for the rights of all, especially those of minorities. The contrary leads to the absurd conclusion that, among others, the current Venezuelan regime or the former Nazi regime would be representations of a democratic regime.

Now, before the globe becomes an immense Gulag in the name of a non-existent democracy that has mutated into kleptocracy, that is, the government of thieves of property, liberties and dreams of life, before that happens, we say, we must use our neurons and imagine new limits to the excess of power. It is rather suicidal to always wait for the next elections instead of rolling up our sleeves and thinking of new safeguards for a free society.

Four proposals

In this sense, I propose to meditate on the following four proposals which, if they are not considered effective, we must propose others, but, as we have said, we must not remain with our arms folded waiting for a horrendous end that cannot be reversed.

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In the first place, part of the proposals of the Nobel Prize in economics Friedrich Hayek regarding the non-reelection of legislators to which it is interesting to add what has been happening in some American states in terms of part-time elected positions in order to, on the one hand, minimize the risks of over-legislation and, on the other hand, the imperative need for members of Congress to know what it is to work in the private sector and not to make politics a business.

Secondly, Bruno Leoni’s proposal for the judicial area is to open wide the possibility of private arbitrators in order to show that law is a process of discovery in the context of competing rulings and not a phenomenon of social engineering or design.

Third, to implement the most terrible thing for populisms, since they would be left without captive audiences: to establish, as was the case in Denmark before 1933, that those who receive monetary aid from the government – that is, the fruit of their neighbors’ labor – cannot exercise the right to vote until they become independent.

Fourth, the apparently most shocking of all: to adopt for the Executive the advice of Montesquieu in his best known work: Suffrage by lot is in the nature of democracy, which naturally leads to anyone of legal age who agrees to enter the lottery being able to govern. This leads to a redoubling of incentives for self-protection, which in turn is channeled through the strengthening of institutional frameworks for the protection of life, liberty and property.

This is precisely what Karl Popper was aiming at when he refuted the idea of Plato’s philosopher-king by maintaining that what matters are institutions and not men so that “the government does the least possible harm” (after all, nobody knows who the Swiss prime minister is, while in other places people keep an eye on more or less cavernous caudillajes). This was the system applied in the republics of Venice and Florence in the past.

In short, this op-ed is an urgent invitation to open debates on these crucial issues and to detach oneself from the mental cobwebs of the conservative who cannot leave the status quo and consider other ways to strengthen reciprocal respect as the substantial basis for living in freedom.

Alberto Benegas Lynch (h)