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What is the historical significance of The People's Initiative?
— Posted 2010-03-28, From myself
This topic takes us back to the 1600s in Britain.
Power of the purse – the ability to strangle the government
In politics, the ability of the government to get money from the people is referred to as the power of the purse. In the mid 1600s, the British House of Commons fought to the death with the king over this power — and the king lost. In 1787, the framers of our constitution put the power of the purse in the House of Representatives, which is our constitutional analog of the House of Commons. As a result, finance bills must start in the House of Representatives.
Why is the power of the purse so important? Why did the Commons fight to the death with the king over the power of the purse? Because money is to government what air is to human life. Hence, the party that controls the ability of the government to get money ultimately controls the government because it can strangle the government. This is why the power of the purse is the most important political power.
United States government – theoretical rationale
In the late 1600s, John Locke developed a theory of the rationale for democracy. Locke's theory was popular in the 1700s, and Thomas Jefferson drew on it in writing the declaration of independence. Locke's theory was a version of social contract theory, which was a theory that Thomas Hobbes had expressed in the mid 1600s. However, Hobbes had used social contract theory as a rationale for an absolute ruler — the head of a leviathan — while Locke used social contract theory as a rationale for democracy.
In the mid 1700s, Montesquieu developed a theory of the structure of government by idealizing the British government. The French intellectuals of the time admired the British parliamentary government because it allowed so much more freedom than that allowed by the repressive Catholic monarchy of France. The most notable concept in Montesquieu's theory is the trinity structure of executive, legislature, and judiciary. This is expressed in terms of a separation of powers which, in turn, implies a balancing of power as the three branches engage in an ongoing jostling relationship.
The People's Initiative – theoretical rationale
My theory of commerce and government reveals that government exists for one and only one purpose: to perform or manage tasks that must be performed monopolistically. Since competition is necessary for maximizing excellence, government should perform, or manage, only tasks that must be performed monopolistically.
Now, in the absence of competition to control the price of government, what should be done to control it? The customers — the citizens — must directly control the price of government.
This conclusion can be expressed in a graphically intuitive manner, as follows. In the absence of a citizen-controlled ceiling on the price of government, the people have effectively given the government a blank check, so it's no wonder that government is fiscally irresponsible! The solution is for the people to tear up the blank check and take direct control of a ceiling on the price of government. The price of government may be expressed as the annual income plus the total debt of the government. Debt is included because it is committed future income.
The People's Initiative – historical significance
In the declaration of independence, the founders of the United States drew on John Locke's theory of the rationale for government, while in the constitution they drew on Montesquieu's theory of the structure of government. But since then, what significant contribution to political theory has emerged? Can you think of any? I can't think of any, other than Karl Marx's inept attempt to formulate a political and economic theory in the mid 1800s.
My theory of government establishes a new rationale for democracy, namely, that the price of a government monopoly must be controlled by the customers — the citizens.
This result of the theory, in turn, establishes a new separation of powers and, hence, a new balancing of power: in fiscal matters, the citizens control the budget total through a ceiling on government income+debt, while the government controls spending priorities.