What's the hurry, Belgium? Somalia has gone without a government for 20 years.
Today, Belgium announced the formation of a coalition government after 541 days of stalemate.
Five hundred and forty-one days is a long time to go without a government.Skip to next paragraph
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Today, Belgium ended its year-and-a-half of political stalemate – in which an unelected caretaker government ran the country, after the previous government resigned – naming an unwieldy six-party coalition government led by Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo. The stalemate was the result of long-running linguistic disputes between the country’s poorer French-speaking minority and its richer Flemish-speaking majority.
That Belgium was able to go so long without a government is a kind of spiritual touchstone for those of the libertarian philosophy – such as Republican presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, who believe that smaller government is better. Some, but certainly not all, would argue that no government is best of all.
George Vernon, a leader in the British Libertarian party, argues that Belgium has weathered the economic crisis better than other European countries, if for no other reason than because it generally has smaller government budgets, and less debt, than other European countries.
The only lesson we can really draw from Belgium so far is that less government appears to be beneficial during a crisis (the same lesson can also be drawn from the [America] of 1920-21). Hopefully the UK and others will take note.
Taken to its logical extreme, the less-government-is-better philosophy has no better example than Somalia, which has gone without effective government since the fall of President Siad Barre in 1991. Those who have seen the movie “Black Hawk Down” will remember that the US briefly attempted to impose some military control in Somalia in order to speed the flow of food aid in that drought- and war-stricken country, and they’ll remember how much fun that was.
With no government, there is most assuredly no taxation in Somalia, no overweaning regulation, no troublesome rules to prevent Somali businesses from reaching their full potential. There is also, it must be added, no security, no rule of law, no stable supply of food, no repair of infrastructure, no sanitation service, no health care system, and if two businessmen have a dispute, there is no guarantee that it won’t be resolved without the smell of cordite.
So going without government for decades – as attractive as that notion may sound -- is a decision to be taken with great care, as this satirical video points out.