: An Alien craft soft lands in a hapless human's back yard...the
: human goes outside to investigate, and we listen in...
: H: Hey, an alien!
: A: Yes, I have traveled across space to check on the progress
: of your species.
: H: Cool. Shall I take you to our leader?
: A: Your what?
: H: Our leader - the guy in charge.
: A: The guy in charge of what?
: H: Well, in charge of everything.
: A: You have one guy in charge of everything?
: H: No, no, heís in charge of government.
: A: What is government?
: H: Well, government makes the rules for us. It tells us what
: we can do and what we canít do.
: A: So government is really smart? They come up with wise rules
: for you to follow?
: H: Well mostly, but some of its rules are really stupid.
: A: Do you disregard those rules?
: H: No, we have to follow the rules, even if they are stupid,
: or we disagree with them. Government punishes anyone who
: disobeys the rules.
: A: So you are slaves to government?
: H: No, no, no, itís not like that at all. Government works for
: us, the people. It serves us. Weíre the boss.
: A: It tells you what to do, and it punishes you with violence
: if you disobey it, and yet youíre its boss?
: H: Yeah.
: A: But there are some things government does that you donít
: H: Well, yeah, not everything government does is popular. Like
: spending on wars, for example.
: A: What is a war?
: H: Itís when government basically spends the peoplesí money on
: weapons and soldiers, and then sends them over to the other
: side of the world to kill a bunch of people over there and
: destroy their country. I donít like it that government does
: A: Well I can see why you might not like that. Have you humans
: reached the stage where you generally consider stealing,
: enslaving and killing each other to be bad things?
: H: Oh yeah, we know that. Donít steal. Donít attack. Donít
: A: But you give money to government and they use it to kill
: H: Well yeah, but government does good things with tax money
: as well.
: A: Why donít you stop paying for the things you donít like and
: only pay for the good things it does?
: H: No, we canít do that. You canít just decide to stop paying
: taxes, because the rules say that everyone has to pay
: A: But the rules come from government though, donít they?
: H: Yeah.
: A: So government made a rule which says that everyone has to
: pay them money? So everybody pays taxes because if they
: didnít, government would punish them using violence?
: H: Well yes, but most people donít mind paying taxes; most
: people feel obligated to pay taxes and obey government
: laws, because itís for the good of society. Society needs
: government, and that means we all have to pay taxes.
: A: So just to make sure Iíve got this straight. Government
: makes the rules and you feel obligated to follow the rules,
: even the ones you donít like, and it tells you what to do,
: and threatens to punish you if you donít do what it says.
: And it uses some of the money that it has taken from you
: using threats of violence to pay for things you donít like
: and actually think are immoral, like mass murder.
: H: Yeah, but we can ask it to please tell us to do smart
: things, and please donít take our money and use it to kill
: people. Weíre allowed to ask them to tell us to do what we
: want them to tell us to do.
: A: Are you guys just scared of this thing? Is government some
: huge monster that can just squish you at any moment if you
: H: No, government isnít a monster.
: A: Well what is it then? Could you draw me a picture of it?
: H: Government isnít really the sort of thing you can draw a
: picture of.
: A: Maybe you could take me to it. Where is government?
: H: You mean the building?
: A: Government is a building?
: H: No, but the politicians who make up the government have
: buildings they work from.
: A: So government is a group of these politicians?
: H: Yeah.
: A: OK, so what species are these politicians?
: H: Well theyíreÖ human.
: A: Like you?!
: H: Yeah.
: A: So politicians are humans, and theyíre government. Youíre a
: human, but youíre not government?
: H: No.
: A: So itís the politicians, they are the ones that boss the
: rest of you around, and make you do things you donít want
: to do and take your money using threats of violence. But
: even though youíre all humans Ė youíre not allowed to boss
: them around and take their money?
: H: No, theyíd put us in a cage if we did that. But look, itís
: not like the politicians can just do whatever they want.
: Like, a politician canít just come up to me on the street
: and make me give him money. They canít do that. Politicians
: can only do things like that in their job, when theyíre
: working for government.
: A: Oh, so politicians arenít government. Theyíre just work for
: H: Yeah.
: A: OK, so government isnít a monster, and it isnít building,
: and its not politicians, itís something else. And it
: employs politicians who are just regular humans, who get to
: order everyone else around and take their money. How does a
: regular human become a politician?
: H: Well thatís the great thing about our government. Itís a
: democracy, and that means that the people actually have the
: power, because we get to decide who among us get to be the
: politicians, we get to vote. And if a politician starts
: doing things we donít like, we can just replace him with
: someone else in the next election.
: A: So the people that get chosen to be politicians only get to
: boss people around and take their money for a short time,
: and then they go back to being regular humans?
: H: Exactly.
: A: That sounds like a powerful position to be in. But if you
: get to choose who does that, I assume that politicians are
: always the wisest, most honest, caring and respected people
: among youÖ
: H: Well, no, not really. I wouldnít say politicians are known
: for being honest, or wise, or caring, and theyíre certainly
: not the most respected people among us. Come to think of
: it, most politicians are lying, power-hungry crooks.
: A: The ones you chose?
: H: Yeah, theyíre always doing things we donít like. They use
: taxpayersí money to enrich themselves and their friends,
: and they never keep their promises to voters. Theyíve been
: caught stealing and lying and taking bribes, and they
: mostly do what the big corporations want. Yeah, theyíre
: always doing stuff like that. Theyíre completely corrupt.
: Theyíre a bunch of lying crooks.
: A: But you said that most humans know that stealing and
: beating each other up and killing are wrong. And you said
: that you have the power because you can change whoís in
: charge. So why donít you just replace the lying, thieving,
: murderous crooked politicians with some regular people?
: H: Well we donít try to elect lying crooks. It just always
: turns out that way. But we have to have a government,
: because some humans are nasty, and might kill, or enslave
: or steal. Civilization just couldnít survive without
: A: Let me get this straight. Because youíre worried about the
: small number of nasty people that are willing to kill,
: enslave and steal, you think itís necessary for your
: survival to have a system where some humans among you, for
: a short while, get to call themselves the government, and
: they get to order everyone else around like slaves and, if
: they want, commit mass murder, using money they stole,
: using threats of violence. Politicians get to kill, enslave
: and steal, because if they didnít, someone else might? And
: you try to elect good honest people to be politicians but
: what happens every time is that the people you elect turn
: out to be corrupt, evil, lying crooks. Thatís your system?
: H: Yeah, thatís pretty much government.