No society can exist unless the laws are respected to a certain degree. The safest way to make laws respected is to make them respectable. When law and morality contradict each other, the citizen has the cruel alternative of either losing his moral sense or losing his respect for the law. These two evils are of equal consequence, and it would be difficult for a person to choose between them.

—Frédéric Bastiat. The Law, 1850.

All good in government comes from moral laws; all evil in government comes from immoral laws. The misery suffered by the Germans and their victims in World War II was directly attributable to the immorality of the Enabling Act. The squalor, corruption, environmental catastrophe, national depression, and alcoholism in Russia are legacies of the immorality of the Communist system they lived under for so long. The filth and poverty of the Third World is directly attributable to the immorality of the way in which they govern themselves. The wealth, cleanliness, prosperity, and progress of the industrialized world is due to the morality of its laws, particularly those safeguarding property rights.

Immoral laws are those that breach the Golden Rule. Such laws include the use of tax revenues for the redistribution of wealth, which violates property rights; laws that interfere with employment relationships; tariffs and other trade barriers; laws breaching freedom of thought, speech, religion, and travel, and the like. When these violations occur, the individual loses respect for the laws.

This article is an extract from the book ‘Principles of Good Government’ by Matthew Bransgrove