Page:Rise and Fall of Society.djvu/93

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Government and Property

which he is compelled to do for himself before there are a sufficient number of producers in the community to hire a specialist.

Volunteer Government does for a while. But the interruptive call to duty becomes more strident as the community grows in size and in wealth, and in due time voluntarism is replaced with a professional sheriff, whose keep is less costly than the stoppage of production. By contract, he is relieved from contributing anything to the market place, from which he draws his sustenance, in return for which he agrees to devote his time and talents to maintaining the orderly conditions necessary for the smooth operation of the market place. He renders a special service to the community, differing from all the others in that its sole purpose is the exercise of authority; as sheriff he is not equipped for any productive occupation, nor has he any competence for one. Government is a protector, not a producer.[1]

For illustrative purposes, we have inferred that the horse thief or the cattle rustler is an outsider, not a member of the community. But what is a thief—psychologically, not legally? He is a man who turns to predation rather than production to satisfy his desires, convinced that his way calls for a minimum of exertion. Because he is uninhibited by a moral sense or the fear of punishment, he is described as a psychopath. Whether he is or not, the fact is that he shares with all his fellow men the inclination to get "something for nothing," his deficiency being but an exaggeration of the common impulse. The coveting of somebody else's property is not confined to

  1. The argument is sometimes advanced that Government is a producer because its protective function induces a climate conducive to production. This is like saying that the umpire at a baseball game makes runs, hits, and errors, which is manifestly silly. Political power, if it has any competence at all, may regulate human behavior; it is not a factor in production.