The Two Fundamental Philosophies Of Government. One Works. The Other Doesn’t.

The two basic, conflicting, philosophies of government are: Every Man For Himself and We’re All In This Together

Ansel Adams Image From Wiki Commons

By David Grace (Amazon PageDavid Grace Website)

There are two fundamental philosophies about what a government is supposed to do, what a government is for. Each is an outgrowth of the wealth, power and social class of their adherents.

Because the rich and powerful are already rich and powerful they don’t need anything from the government beyond

  • the establishment and operation of an infrastructure that will support and facilitate their businesses so that they can make more money
  • stopping everyone, including the government itself, from taking their money or restricting their power

Beyond those two roles, it’s every man for himself.

The Every Man For Himself philosophy:

  • Argues that the government’s only function is to provide internal and external police to keep people from stealing other people’s money, courts to decide disputes over people’s money, financial systems to manage people’s money, and roads and infrastructure systems to support the operation of the businesses that generate people’s money.
  • Sees a country as nothing more than a field of competition where the rich and powerful are freed from government restrictions so that they can do whatever they want, short of theft and violence, to get richer and more powerful
  • Believes that neither the members of a society nor the government they create should be allowed to do anything to promote a freer, more prosperous life for its citizens because the rich and powerful already have a free and prosperous life and promoting the prosperity and freedom of the not-rich and not-powerful will reduce the power and wealth of the rich and powerful.
  • Rejects the idea of the government being a tool to promote the common good.

For the believers in the Every Man For Himself philosophy, neither the wealthy and powerful nor the government should care

  • if ten percent of the citizens are fabulously rich and 90% are desperately poor;
  • if half the citizens are healthy and half are diseased;
  • if consumers are impoverished by monopolies and cartels;
  • if the air and water are poisoned;
  • if non-government discrimination bars people from employment, education, housing, access to finance or the ability to purchase products and services
  • if non-government fees and charges collected through non-government control of economic choke points sucks the wealth of millions of human beings into the coffers of artificial corporate entities.

Origins Of The Every Man For Himself Philosophy

The Every Man For Himself philosophy has its roots in the powers and privileges of the rich and powerful. Today the Every Man For Himself philosophy is one of the core principles of conservative Republicans.

The Every Man For Himself philosophy goes back to medieval times and beyond.

Consider a noble in feudal times. He has an estate, but he needs people, serfs, to actually grow and harvest the crops, herd and butcher the cattle, etc.

He has no personal, altruistic interest in his serfs. They are merely biological machines that he uses to generate his wealth, no different from the oxen that pull his plows. So long as a serf is physically able to work, he/she needs to be clothed, fed, and housed sufficient to keep them working the fields.

When a serf or a horse or an ox gets too old or infirm to perform their job, then the noble has no interest in feeding or clothing them and, in fact, he would prefer that they die as quickly as possible because a serf who is eating without working is a waste of resources.

Move forward to the industrial age.

The factory owner sees his workers no differently than the noble saw his serfs. To him factory workers are biological machines that he needs to produce his products. He has to pay them enough to keep them alive and working, but he has no interest in paying them one penny more than is required to keep them on the job because to him wages and profits are a zero-sum game, one dollar more in wages equals one dollar less in profits.

When they get old or sick or disabled he will throw his workers away with the same alacrity that he would dispose of a frayed belt or a cracked gear.

To the rich and powerful

  • serfs, laborers, and employees are only biological tools to be used until they break and then to be thrown away as quickly as possible so that they do not pointlessly consume any resources.
  • employees are no different from an ox with a broken leg. You get rid of them as quickly and cheaply as possible.
  • every person in the country has a value solely equal to the value of the goods or services they are able to provide. When they can no longer render a service equal to or greater than the food, clothing and housing they consume then they are a drain on the society and deserve nothing from the government or their fellow citizens.
  • It is not the government’s job to improve or even protect the lives of its citizens. The health, welfare, education, freedom and prosperity of the country’s people are solely their own personal concern and not of any importance to the wealthy and powerful or the government because if they were then that would cause the government to do things that would end up taking money from the rich and restricting the power of the powerful.

Why The Every Man For Himself Philosophy Is Toxic

You Can’t Run A Country The Same Way You Run A Company

The Every Man For Himself philosophy wrongly views the operation of a country as being the same as the operation of a company, but it’s not.

It wants to treat a citizen who can no longer earn a living the same way that a company treats an employee whose services are no longer required, namely:

“Goodbye. You’re on your own.”

See my column: You Can’t Run A Country The Way You Run A Business

You Can’t Make Starving People Just Disappear

But while one company can banish a redundant employee more or less without consequences, a country cannot banish all its poverty-stricken citizens who can no longer earn a living.

While the unemployment, poverty, sickness, and ignorance of a former employee will have little to no effect on the company that dismissed him, the unemployment, poverty, sickness, and ignorance of hundreds of thousands or millions of citizens will have a material, damaging effect on any country that thinks it can just ignore them without suffering any negative consequences.

An Economy’s Total Labor Costs Vs. All Workers Earnings Is Not A Zero Sum Game

The balance between one employer’s labor costs and its employees’ wages is a zero sum game because the pool of dollars available to the employer is relatively fixed.

The labor costs of all employers in the country vs. the wages of all employees in the country is not a zero sum game because the money supply is not fixed but rather grows and declines as the economy grows and declines. The poorer the working class is as a whole, the poorer the economy performs and the poorer the country is as a whole.

An Economy Is Not A Bunch Of Separate Parts. It Is An Interlinked Organism

The Every Man For Himself’s view of the government is based on the fallacy that an economy is merely a huge group of individual transactions that have little or no effect on each other or on the country as a whole.

An economy is actually an interlinked organism, and ignoring the negative effects of transactions (cartels, low wages, high fees, drug and alcohol abuse, disease, lack of a trained workforce) on the country as a whole is as foolish as a man insisting that each part of his body is an independent organ and that a sickness in one part of his body will not contaminate the rest.

The Flaws In Treating Pieces As If They Aren’t Part Of The Whole

If a man gets a cut on his little toe and you tell him, “Hey, Bob, you should wash that and put a bandage on it” and Bob refuses, saying, “The brain and the heart and the arms worked very hard to earn my money. I’m not going to waste that hard-earned money on the toe that foolishly got itself cut. Letting it bleed will teach the toe to be more careful next time” he’s making three major errors:

  • He’s Mischaracterizing the Motive for Treating the Cut as Doing the Toe a Favor

— — You don’t treat the cut to do the toe a favor. You do it to promote the health of the body as a whole.

— — A government doesn’t promote the health, education and prosperity of its citizens to do them a favor. It does it because free, educated, healthy and prosperous citizens make a free, healthy and prosperous country.

  • He’s Justifying Not Treating The Cut As A Punishment For The Toe’s Carelessness

— — You don’t let the toe get infected in order to punish it for its mistake because the infection will do damage far beyond the toe.

— — The city doesn’t let someone’s house burn down to punish them for being careless with matches because the result of that punishment may well be a fire that destroys an entire city block.

  • He’s failing to understand that whatever hurts the toe hurts the rest of the body as well.

— — Widespread poverty, unemployment, illness and ignorance are diseases that infect a country and an economy in the same way wounds and infections affect a human body. Their consequences are reduced economic activity, crime, drug and alcohol abuse, disease, and political and social instability.

The Sickness, Ignorance and Poverty Created By the “Every Man For Himself” Philosophy Provokes A Toxic Reaction

Communism and socialism would never even existed as major political philosophies, leastwise have been adopted in any country, had industrialized nations rejected the Every Man For Himself philosophy instead of adopting it.

The more Americans promote the Every Man For Himself philosophy the more people will promote more extreme We’re All In This Together “progressive” policies.

It Ignores & Thus Allows Toxics, Pollution & Environmental Damage

This Unrestricted Freedom & Unrestricted Wealth Diminish The Freedom and Wealth Of Those Who Are Not Rich And Powerful

The Every Man For Himself philosophy prevents the government from restricting the ability of the rich and powerful to infringe on or diminish the freedom and wealth of people who are not rich and powerful by doing such things as

  • diminishing people’s freedom of religion by being free to

— — — refuse to hire people who practice disfavored religions

— — — impose employee rules that conflict with an employee’s religion

— — — refuse to sell goods or services to members of disfavored religions

  • diminishing people’s freedom of speech and the press by being free to

— — — refuse to hire people who say or print ideas they dislike

— — — refuse to sell to people who say or print ideas they dislike

  • Taking the property of people who are not rich and powerful by:

— — creating cartels that charge huge prices for the products they control

— — forming employers’ cartels that repress the wages they pay

— — requiring customers for one product to buy others they don’t need

— — charging arbitrary fees for passage through economic choke points such channels of transportation, distribution, marketing, technology, raw materials, training, replacement parts, etc.

The Safety In Numbers & Strength In Numbers Philosophy

The second basic philosophy of government is: There Is Safety in Numbers, Strength in Numbers, and We’re All In This Together. Its adherents believe that the government should be a tool that facilitates as many of its citizens as reasonably possible being safer, richer, freer and healthier than they would be if living alone.

We’re All In This Together is the philosophy of people who aren’t already rich and powerful, citizens who need the combined and coordinated power of the group to protect them FROM the loss of freedom and loss of wealth imposed ON THEM by the unrestrained actions of the rich and powerful, and to reasonably facilitate their becoming safer, healthier, better educated, freer and more prosperous.

The We’re All In This Together believers are divided into two camps:

  • The moralist faction that believes that the wealth of the individual should be shared with all the members of the group as a moral principle (socialists and communists), and
  • The pragmatist faction that believes that people who join together in a society are exponentially safer, more powerful, freer and more prosperous when acting as part of an organized group than as individuals acting alone.

The pragmatists believe in using long-term cost/benefit analysis to craft reasonable government policies that will increase the wealth, freedom, health, safety, education, innovation and prosperity for as many citizens as possible so long as those policies will also decrease the freedom and wealth as little as reasonably possible for as few people as reasonably possible.

In short, if the long-term benefits to the country’s citizens from the government’s actions materially outweigh the long-term costs then that’s what the government should do.

Why People Support An Every Man For Himself System Of Government

It’s easy to understand why the rich and powerful want to impose an Every Man For Himself government — it’s in their selfish best interests.

It’s more difficult to understand why some humans who are neither rich nor powerful want to have an Every Man For Himself system of government that principally benefits powerful and wealthy artificial, non-human, corporations while allowing those same corporations to restrict the freedom of and coercively deplete the wealth of actual human beings.

— David Grace ( (

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Government Theory, Liberal, Conservative, Libertarian; Wealth & Poverty; Law & The Constitution; Democrats, GOP & Political Parties; Guns & The 2nd Amendment; Privacy v. Gov’t Action

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David Grace

David Grace

Graduate of Stanford University & U.C. Berkeley Law School. Author of 16 novels and over 400 Medium columns on Economics, Politics, Law, Humor & Satire.

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