Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The case for a king

No form of government is more efficient or effective than a dictatorship. Now, make sure you read to the bottom before you freak out on me. 

But think about it for a minute. In a representative or parliamentary government, you have this whole body of “leaders” you pay salaries to, vs. the cost of just one king. And that is the small cost in this analysis. The higher cost is the daily administration of government. With a Congress, parliament, or true democracy, every decision is a decision by committee. The process is time consuming. Days, weeks, months, even years are spent debating, arguing, positioning, maneuvering…  The end result of all this is often overly wordy and ineffective policies which do little to truly advance common interest.

A dictator simply reviews the facts, makes a decision, and puts it in play. If the decision is not ideal, the dictator can bypass all the finger pointing and re-legislating and simply correct course. The entire system of establishing policy and reacting to issues is extremely efficient, and incredibly fast. The dictator can move with equal efficiency in the mobilization of his war machine, when required to protect his subjects. He can react with in a timely fashion to a natural or economic disaster, re-allocating resources where they are most needed.

Consider as an example the present model for charity in the US. There are literally hundreds of organizations which collect and distribute money to those in need. Some of those organizations are government organizations, such as WIC, the food stamp program, and many others. All of these programs require salaried people to handle the distribution process. And since they are government programs you also have the government costs of legislation, policy making and so forth. The other primary option is non-profits. Non-profits may not operate for profit, but they still have costs. There is the staff to pay for, who collect and distribute resources. There are advertising costs.  There  are storage and transportation costs. And there are so many of these organizations, each generating these same wastes. An additional problem is that all these charities are competing for the same resources. If the junior diabetes foundation does particularly well at collecting funds, it may mean the cancer foundation, or feeding the homeless program comes up short.

The dictator doesn’t have these issues. Everything is under his control. If a particular need is seen, appropriate resources are shifted to that need. All those individuals who would be administrating the shuffling of resource in the multiple non-profits model can instead be put to productive work, generating more resources.

Yes a dictatorship is unquestionably the most effective form of government you could choose to live under, If….

(Surely you knew that was coming)…

If only you could be guaranteed that the dictator in question would be completely wise, humble, beneficent, and selfless. A king who is not these things is a burden to his subjects. At best.

How many kings of this ilk have there been? Here’s what I have found with a little poking around in history books:  

Joseph II, Holy Roman emperor from 1765 to 1790 seems to have come close. He abolished slavery and peasantry during his reign. He also instituted a policy of religious tolerance. However he was greedily expansionist, forcing his people to go to war to claim territories they neither needed, nor wanted.

King Khama in Africa (1819-1923) Known as “The Good King of Bechuanaland” Is noted as peace loving. He is said to have sought technological innovation through scientific process. It is claimed he achieved a period of zero crime. On the other hand he appears to have been a bit heavy handed in his imposition of Christianity on his people, to the extent that his abolishment of cultural traditions led to a breakdown of family mores.

If you accept the bible as historical information, then you can point to a few who started out well, but  ultimately failed as “good dictators”, King David who through a minor act of omission, set in motion a chain of bad decisions culminating in murder. King  Solomon, renowned for his wisdom, got caught up in palace building, thus becoming a heavy tax burden upon his subjects. And his successors were worse in that respect, until the people ultimately rebelled and the kingdom split.

There are also Enoch, and Melchizedek, who seem to have achieved dictatorial Nirvana, though there isn’t really enough information about either to really say conclusively.

If you accept the Book of Mormon as historical fact, then you gain a few more exemplary leaders, in King Benjamin, who worked in the fields alongside his people, to avoid the becoming a tax burden to them. His son, King Mosiah, seems to have been similar in character.

But that is only a few out of thousands (Tens of Thousands?) of kings in History. And if you don’t accept the Bible or Book of Mormon as historical fact, the numbers dwindle practically to zero.
Enlightened despots are an anomaly, enlightened successors even more so. As appealing as the efficiencies may be, as charismatic as the candidates appear, one simply cannot concede to the rule of a king.