We all know that politicians would never lie to us or try to mislead us.

Sometimes their enthusiasm gets the better of them, however.

To the world’s three most-famous promises (“The check is in the mail,” “I’ll love you in the morning,” and “I’m from the government and I’m here to help you”), we can add a whole string of promises made by politicians over the past century. Here are just a few of them.

  1. The income tax will apply only to the wealthiest individuals and will never go above 6 percent.

  2. Social Security will always be there for you, and the tax will be only 2 percent.

  3. The Drug War will reduce drug usage and crime in America.

  4. Federal aid to education will never mean federal control of education.

  5. The Medicare program will never allow bureaucrats to interfere with your doctor’s medical decisions.

  6. We will conclude the Vietnam War to achieve “peace with honor.”

  7. Ronald Reagan will get government off our backs, because he knows government is the problem, not the solution.

  8. Asset forfeiture and the RICO laws will be used only against big drug dealers and organized crime.

  9. Bombing Libya (or Afghanistan or the Sudan) will strike such fear into the hearts of terrorists that they’ll never bother us again.

  10. George Bush, Sr. will veto all tax increases – just read his lips.

  11. Winning the Gulf War will assure a reliable, low-cost supply of oil and gasoline.

  12. Our troops will be in Bosnia for no more than a year.

  13. Bill Clinton’s administration will be the most ethical in history.

The next set of promises

You might want to remember those vows today as politicians promise that:

  • Vouchers won’t lead to government control of private schools.

  • A flat tax will be flat forever.

  • U.S. military action in Colombia will reduce the flow of drugs into America.

  • The War on Terrorism will make America safe.

  • Social Security funds are locked away and can’t be squandered by big-spending politicians.

  • Adding prescription drugs to Medicare won’t lead to price controls or shortages of life-saving medicines.

  • Gun-control laws will keep guns away from criminals, but not interfere with the rights of law-abiding citizens.

  • Campaign finance reform will end corruption in politics.

The politicians making today’s promises are no different from those who made the promises on the first list. And even if we had more faith in today’s batch, we should never believe their promises.

Power will always be abused

The problem is power. You give politicians power and it will be abused. It’s as simple as that.

It doesn’t matter whether the politician asking for the power is a liberal or a conservative, an honest man or a conniver, a statesman or a political hack. Power given to politicians will always be abused eventually – if not by today’s office-holders, then by tomorrow’s.

Social Security will be safe only when it’s taken completely away from the politicians – and you’re free to spend, save or give away every dollar you earn.

Election campaigns will be clean only when politicians no longer have the power to pass bills that help or hurt companies and special-interest groups.

You will be safe from terrorism only when our politicians quit trying to run the affairs of other countries.

You’ll be able to afford a competent, safe school for your child only when government is removed completely from education.

Drugs and crime will stop being major problems only when the Drug War is ended.

What you can do

You can’t change the world by yourself. But you can at least make sure you don’t worsen it.

The first step is to refuse to support any proposal that would increase the size, scope or power of the government. Any new power you support is bound to be abused and cause great harm eventually.

The federal government alone gets over $2 trillion of our money every year. And yet – even with all that money – it was incapable of preventing the September terrorist attacks, it can’t catch the man it claims is behind those attacks, it can’t make the schools safe, it can’t make health care affordable, it can’t keep from prying into nearly every area of your life, and it has damaged almost everything it has touched with its “compassion” and “benevolence.”

Why should we trust it with any more of our lives, our money or our liberty?

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