Saturday, April 01, 2006

Everything bad about government with none of the power

After having spent a year as a senator in Western's student government, the Western Student Association (WSA), this article adequately summarizes my views on student government. The author, a student at Texas A & M, writes:

"Where did people get the stupid idea that, since there are a bunch of students on campus, they ought to elect a president? Maybe they got it from Hobbes, but I doubt many are able to read at that level. Of course, to the government there is great benefit to the existence of such silliness. It gets students used to the idea that all identifiable groups need a Great Leader. The ludicrous nature of the campaign process makes it perfect training for those interested in a career in Parasite Service. I spoke to some of those very interested in the race, and asked them why the heck a bunch of students needed a President. Even most of their standard reasons for having governments didn’t apply here. After all, the Student Body President does not maintain law and order, nor does he order the invasion of neighboring schools or countries. They concurred with what I expected – the students need a President to direct the wise use of the mandatory student fees. Not enough money is paid by this fee to simply fund anyone who wants to do a fun activity, so we need someone to decide what the most fun project is and direct money to that."

He also critiques the idea of mandatory student fees:

"Wouldn’t we eliminate the need for such a Wise Leader if we just let students spend money on what they wanted to do? Might this not save me a lot of annoyance for 2 weeks per year, plus also increase total funness (if such is a goal anyway?) No, say our illiterate teachers, this would be too expensive. It boggles the mind that people can believe that spending money on your actual activities is more expensive than pooling all this money, devoting large chunks of it to funding a meaningless election, and then holding regular meetings to decide what to fund. What they mean, of course, is that the private-property idea would be too expensive for them, the people who enjoy partaking of many campus activities. It would not be more expensive to those who prefer things like going to class and working. The present system allows them to live like parasites on the rest of us. If we complain, they respond that it’s our own fault – we should take advantage of those activities too!"

He concludes: "First, ‘student government’ can be taken two ways. Not only does it govern the students, but it also trains future governors. So, if you want to know who your future enemies will be at any campus, look to the student government."

I've said before that student government displays everything that is wrong with real government, except that it has no power. I think the past year in the WSA proves me right.

I'll conclude with an ironic note. The outgoing WSA President is a purported libertarian who I have it on good authority reads the libertarian website ( in which this piece appeared.

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