As thousands descend on Davos for the World Economic Forum or what Bloomberg calls “the world’s most expensive intellectual feedback loop,” the one thing on the minds of the world’s business and political elite is how the hell none of them saw the Trump-slash-Brexit nationalist backlash coming until it was too late.

The answer isn’t rocket science. Borderless utopian collectives only work in science fiction stories like Star Trek. The real world operates a lot more like Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. Local, state and federal governments are cesspools of bureaucracy. With every added layer of bureaucracy, the bigger and more oppressive regimes become.

When the rich keep getting richer, the powerful keep getting more powerful, and the people keep getting the shaft, all the positive rhetoric and social programs get to wearing thin. People get pissed off. Next thing you know, you’ve got backlash.

The Swiss Alps billionaires can have their conversations on social inclusion, grandiose program launches, glitzy award ceremonies and late night after parties until the Dom Perignon runs out. That’s not how anything gets done in the real world. That’s not progress. It doesn’t benefit anyone, just strokes their enormously overinflated egos.

The United Nations and European Union are just as bad, if not worse. The United Federation of Planets, they’re not.

The only effective leaders are those with a visceral feel for their own limitations. The only way to help the people is by lifting burdens and restrictions off their backs, giving them the tools and infrastructure they need to succeed, and letting them take it from there.

Freedom is always the answer. Freedom of religion. Freedom of speech. Freedom of jobs. Freedom of choice. Freedom of competition. Within the boundaries of the law, goes without saying.

At the risk of quoting out of context, I think Margaret Thatcher came up with one of great insights of the 20th century when she said, “There is no such thing as society: there are individual men and women, and there are families.” In my interpretation, that means government cannot solve society’s problems; only individuals can solve their own problems.

There is no such thing as utopia, and there never will be. No matter what they say, we’re reminded time and again that bureaucratic bodies and elitist organizations serve only themselves, not the people. Sure, we need government, but one with a deft hand, not a heavy hand. When it comes to leadership, less is usually more.

Image credit primeministergr via flickr 

  • Tom

    The late Paul Harvey frequently said that self government without self discipline won’t work. The cure for what ails us must come from the good people at the grass roots and if they don’t do it we’re doomed.

  • BigGameHunter

    A between-the-eyes shot at the individuals and collectives with big egos in the world. Sweet.

  • SamHanson

    The irony is delicious, they strive for utopia but the clever Greeks designed that word specifically for those who wish for a utopia:

    “The word
    comes from the Greek: οὐ (“not”) and τόπος (“place”) and means
    “no-place”, and strictly describes any non-existent society ‘described
    in considerable detail’.”

    Maybe it’s me, but I can almost hear the ancient Greeks’ echoing laughter at those starry-eyed buffoons.

    • Steve Tobak

      Well done, Sam. And no, it isn’t you.

    • ρε, ξέρεις ποιός είμαι εγώ???

      Well said..
      Are you Greek?

      • SamHanson

        I am not Greek, I just love learning and many times dig into the origin of things.

        • ρε, ξέρεις ποιός είμαι εγώ???

          That was very accurate, great job

    • John Murphy

      While we are playing fun with words may I add that the word “Goverment” in Latin literally means “mind” + “control”.

      • Steve Tobak

        Guess it works best over the weak-minded. And who knew you guys were such latin savants?