Why Does the Government Lie?


March 27, 2013 by Liberty

ImageThe truth is not an abstract concept. If you had two apples and I gave you two more apples then we can both probably agree that you have 4 apples afterward. (Why are we dealing with apples? I don’t know. Perhaps I’m curious is you can juggle) but the fact is, everyone can see what the truth is in that case. While there are thousands of potential philosophical arguments surrounding the exact nature of what the truth is, it really doesn’t have to be more complicated than this. When logic can be used, there is no reason that the truth can’t be generally agreed on by society.

Incentivized Truth

Truth becomes a more complicated subject when one of the parties involved in the discussion has an incentive. A used car salesman can say to you, “The car is in great shape. It was owned by a great little old lady that treated it well.” That can be completely true in many logical examinations but he could be avoiding the real meaning. Perhaps the little old lady was a race car driver that treated it well by making sure the engine could still hit the 100’s and brought it to the shop every time she trashed the transmission.

There is no definitive way to clarify certain things when there are incentives involved because not everyone is aware of all of the facts and some people intentionally or unintentionally will take advantage of that.

If the car buyer knew the old woman that owned the car they could laugh off that statement, agree and then go look at a different car but truth can’t always be known to everyone during a transaction. In the vast majority of transactions, part of the story is unknown for both parties involved. The car buyer may have little actual intention to purchase a car. Maybe they’re just looking to take a couple cars out on a test drive Gran Tourismo style.

While incentives aren’t the only thing that makes truth more complicated, it’s one of the most common. When there are incentives, the truth becomes hard to transfer.

Half-Truth: It’s not all bad.

There are some advantages to half-truths. While we all might like to pretend that we can handle the truth all the time every time, at least in my case, there are some truths that I’d rather people not end up telling me. When a girlfriend breaks up with me, I don’t want her to say, “You really let yourself go and I mean, you weren’t all that much to begin with. Even then I was thinking I couldn’t handle looking at you but I wanted to date a nice guy. Then I found out your a little selfish… especially in bed. And…”

I don’t want to hear that. That would make me feel a lot worse than needed. A simple, “you know, it’s just not working for me” is alright. On the other hand, if no one ever told me that I was an ugly, sloppy, and a selfish lover I could never improve those qualities. While I may prefer to hear the lie in the short term, the truth is usually a longer term solution.

Also, think about truth in more superficial relationships. If I ask a waitress “how are you doing,” call me crazy, but I don’t want an honest answer. I want her to make me feel wonderful by saying she’s “FANTASTIC,” with a ridiculously big smile on her face. Waitresses know that. It’s one of the common lies of modern politeness.

Why Does The Government Lie?

The United States government is a system of incentives. The people that provide the most incentives get the farthest in politics. Therefore, by the time they’re running for senate, they’re very used to providing people with exactly what they want. In fact, there is no way that a politician can make it without providing incentives for certain groups. The problems is that incentives cost money. The government doesn’t have any money. The government can only take it. Taking the money proves to be a disincentive for most people.

If the government says that they’re going to tax everyone $1 but, in exchange, they’re going to give everyone $1, the people will laugh it off. The funny thing is that the management of that $1 exchange would require the government to only provide the citizens 50 cents on the dollar at best. That means that there is a significant disincentive for government to provide equal treatment and consistency to the constitution.

The typical method of getting around this is by stealing from certain people (a minority) and giving to other people (a majority). That means that, while the minority (rich people or farmers or dog walkers) may be bothered, the politicians will provide benefits for the majority of voters. Eventually though, everyone gets screwed because people make there decisions based on these incentives and disincentives. It’s a completely unsustainable system.

That requires them to use inflationary methods and other currency manipulations to keep people happy.

Apples Of Governance

The government is playing with apples in a more obscure way than you or I could ever get away with. Let’s say you have two apples again. The government has no apples (it doesn’t exist, therefore it can’t have productive value without people’s apples and support.) The government then takes one of your apples promising to give you two the next day. The next day the government can give you two but what you can’t see is that they received that extra apple by promising that same deal to someone else.

The government might then say, “you give me two apples and tomorrow, I’ll give you four apples.” The government provided for you the last time, so why not?

But the fact is, it’s a ponzi scheme at best. With every benefit they provide they require someone to lose. If the government was honest about it’s plan then there would be no logical reason for anyone to follow it. The government needs to have lies.

The Government Lives Off Lies

The general idea of the support of government is that the manipulation by the government can somehow be used for an ethical means but the fact is, it can’t. Every service provided by the government is enforced by the use of a gun. If you choose not to participate then they will kidnap you. If you protect yourself against their kidnappers, they will kill you.

If you were to ask that car salesman that we discussed earlier why he lied to us, he would likely respond:

“I wasn’t lying.”

Naturally, government has the same thing. Keynes is the current excuse. “It works. Oh. We just didn’t do it right. We need to do this differently.” If that’s the case then why didn’t you do it right in the first place?

Unfortunately, we keep giving the hamburger today for the payment tomorrow.

After talking to the salesman and convincing him that you’re not trying to attack him, he might say:

“Heck, I’d be broke and starve if I told them every little detail.”

As far as I’m concerned, a car salesman has the right to be a little bit selfish in the matter. If I don’t want to deal with a used car salesman that’s looking out for their best interest then it’s my choice. Voluntary interaction provides me with that choice.


I cannot say, I don’t want to be a part of your government.

I was born here. That means, according to government, they own me. I can’t leave without paying an extortion to government. (Passport, plane taxes, new tax laws on expats) In fact, even one that renounces their citizenship can still be drafted for 10 years after they leave. That means, if I choose not to support the government in place by voluntarily leaving, they can still pull me back and put me in a battle zone.

Government needs to lie because it cannot exist in voluntary transactions. In a world without manipulation, a government could not exist (at least in it’s current form.)

Why does the government lie?

because lies are all that the government has.

2 thoughts on “Why Does the Government Lie?

  1. Tom Paine II says:

    Whether the government has a right to lie so as to suppress public debate re ongoing government practices is now pending decision the Ninth Circuit. See “Federal Court Affirms Sweeping ‘Bully Pulpit’ Government Right to Lie,” at http://www.opednews.com/articles/Federal-Court-Affirms-Swee-by-Clifford-Johnson-130221-478.html.

  2. […] Why Does The Government Lie? […]

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