There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty."
Should libertarians have more confidence in their government? Thomas Jefferson, 1799:
Confidence is everywhere the parent of despotism. Free government is founded in jealousy, and not in confidence; it is jealousy, and not confidence, which prescribes limited constitutions to bind down those whom we are obliged to trust with power.… In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.
James Madison warned the people of Virginia (1799):
the nation which reposes on the pillow of political confidence, will sooner or later end its political existence in a deadly lethargy.
Madison added in Federalist No. 55,
[T]here is a degree of depravity in mankind which requires a certain degree of circumspection and distrust. . . .
Trusting government, having "confidence in government," is un-American.
The British historian Lord Acton put it this way:
Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority; still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority. There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it.
The exercise of political power is problematic. We should assume that "great men" -- that is, powerful men -- men who wield the force of "the government" -- are morally corrupt. This assumption should be considered confirmed if he increases his own power during his time of "public service."
James Bovard comments on New York Times, columnist David Brooks, who chastises libertarians for being "cynical."
Brooks became a media darling in part because of his vehement warnings about the danger of cynicism. But it is not cynical to have more faith in freedom than in subjugation. It is not cynical to have more faith in individuals vested with rights than in bureaucrats armed with power. It is not cynical to suspect that governments which have cheated so often in the past may not be dealing straight today.
Trust no intellectual who tells you not to worry about Leviathan.
Why Bad Men Rule by Hans-Hermann Hoppe