The suppression of unnecessary offices, of useless establishments and expenses, enabled us to discontinue our internal taxes. These covering our land with officers, and opening our doors to their intrusions, had already begun that process of domiciliary vexation which, once entered, is scarcely to be restrained from reaching successively every article of produce and property . . . . It may be the pleasure and pride of an American to ask, what farmer, what mechanic, what laborer, ever sees a tax-gatherer of the United States?

—Thomas Jefferson. Second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1805.

Conditions have deteriorated somewhat since Jefferson shrank the federal government following the debaucheries of the Federalists. Nevertheless his prescription—the suppression of unnecessary offices and useless establishments and expenses—is still valid. No amount of tweaking or reform can turn the bloated corpse of bureaucracy into the living, breathing,
self-regulating equivalent of private enterprise. Some tiny number of public servants are a necessary evil, but most of the rest are dispensable. It simply requires ingenuity.

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