Government Without Moorings

The economist Judith Sloan writes about Australia’s Labor government:

The Ain’t No Mountain High Enough approach to government [of Gillard and Rudd]… is really an example of Hayek’s fatal conceit. It assumes that experts in government, armed with enough information, can fashion outcomes that otherwise would be the result of individual and family decisions, with government involvement a last resort.

The ANMHE approach completely ignores the virtual impossibility of implementing grand national plans, as well as underestimating the unintended consequences. Costs quickly blow out, the number of bureaucrats expands exponentially and establishing the real outcomes becomes impractical. Fudging and obfuscation by our political masters become the order of the day.

What federal governments should really do is accept where we are now; articulate modest ambitions in a small number of areas that are not the responsibility of the states; consult widely; pilot options; and act in a measured way within a disciplined fiscal framework. They also should emphasise the importance of individual responsibility, rather than peddle the myth that the government can look after us.[1]

One of the hardest things to do in the era we live, is to convince people that in relation to government, less is best. Why is this so?

Because personal irresponsibility become a bad habit, and big government becomes addictive. People think, “Wow! All those promises. This’ll be really great. I’ll get in on the action.”

But there is a huge gulf between political promises, and their fulfillment. I can promise you that green pigs will fly past your window tomorrow morning, and of course you know it won’t happen. You say, “Andrew’s telling fibs, again.” And so you should.

But when it comes to the promises of politicians, there is a significant group in the community who are inclined to be believers. “If he/she said it, well, it could really be true!” Those people pay no attention to recent history: to the past promises of those individuals. They want to be true believers. “Perhaps after all, those people in Canberra can wave their magic wand, and things will just go according to plan!”

But over time, the magic wand from Canberra quickly alters. It becomes a rod of rebuke from the Lord, chastising us for our folly in trusting in man. Thinking that we could hurl the Bible (with all its warnings about the nature of people and governments that ignore God) out the window, and see some new era instituted. A new dawn, when all things with a “Government” sticker on the outside come to fruition, perfectly!

Rushdoony’s comments are pertinent here:

Modern secular man has found himself to be without a standard. …This problem is one of particular pertinence to me, inasmuch as this problem was one which plagued my thinking in my undergraduate days. It was not a lack of Christian background, nor a lack of knowledge of the Scriptures, but a lack of theology and theological direction that made me helpless in the face of the contemporary scene. In the course of my thinking, it was the book of Job that gave direction to my theology. The book of Job made me a Calvinist. The book of Job made clear to me by what standard we must understand the whole of life.[2]

Jesus made it clear: when people run from God, they run towards bondage. But when individuals or nations have made a series of bad choices that have brought them to a pig pen where they are hungry and hurting, this can have a really good outcome.

What is that? They can learn from the experience. The Prodigal Son “came to his senses” (Luke 15:17), changed his attitude, and started for home.

Australia may need this, like many other nations of the world. We may need to find out the hard way that messianic governments which have rejected God and His Word are poor substitutes for the real thing.

Conclusion:                                                                                                                            

What we believe is important. Ideology is always critical (including our ideology of government) because it derives from those core beliefs we hold to.

And ideology gives us moorings: “unless the Lord builds the house, they labour in vain who build it. Unless the watchman guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain” (Ps.127:1).

Oppression and hardship resulting from evil, godless choices have often been God’s way of instructing nations: “Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other” (Isa.45:22).


[1] Judith Sloan, “‘’No Mountain High Enough’ Approach is over the Top,” ‘The Australian,’ 20/7/2013.

[2] Rousas Rushdoony, “By What Standard?” 1959, p.189.