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Gladstone, William Ewart - Suppressing obligations - Restraining your use of power



Type of Spiritual Experience


The misuse of power is one of the banes of our society.  And one of the biggest culprits in the misuse of power is government. The more you grow government and its employees the more obligations – often entirely useless and spurious – their employees invent in order to justify their existence.  Governments are no longer servants to the people, but tyrants over them, with regulation after regulation after regulation, none of which can be fairly monitored or policed and few of which do any good.

Thus we do have something  of a problem here because suppression of obligations can only be achieved fully by the government starting to reduce bureaucracy.

The way that Gladstone aimed to free people from bureaucracy was actually very simple – he always ensured via the careful management of the finances, that it was never allowed to grow. 

A description of the experience

Joseph Schumpeter, - History of Economic Analysis:

... there was one man who not only united high ability with unparalleled opportunity but also knew how to turn budgets into political triumphs and who stands in history as the greatest English financier of economic liberalism, Gladstone. ... The greatest feature of Gladstonian finance ... was that it expressed with ideal adequacy both the whole civilisation and the needs of the time, ex visu of the conditions of the country to which it was to apply; or, to put it slightly differently, that it translated a social, political, and economic vision, which was comprehensive as well as historically correct, into the clauses of a set of co-ordinated fiscal measures. ...

Gladstonian finance was the finance of the system of 'natural liberty,' … and free trade ... the most important thing was to remove fiscal obstructions to private activity. And for this, in turn, it was necessary to keep public expenditure low. Retrenchment was the victorious slogan of the day ... it means the reduction of the functions of the state to a minimum ... retrenchment means rationalisation of the remaining functions of the state, ….. ... Last, but not least, we have the principle of the balanced budget.

The source of the experience

Gladstone, William Ewart

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Suppressing obligations