Bill Brown ... Xiamen University
At long last I have discovered the secret behind how the U.S. government works: both Democrats and Republicans alike are Taoists. Need proof? Just consider the following passage from Lao Tse's "Tao Dejing" (Taoist Scripture). Though written five centuries before Christ, the following passage sounds just like a manual for modern government:
"The ancients who showed their skill in practicing the Tao did so, not to enlighten the people, but rather to make them simple and ignorant.
The difficulty in governing the people arises from their having much knowledge. He who (tries to) govern a state by his wisdom is a scourge to it; while he who does not (try to) do so is a blessing." 65 道德经:古之善为道者，非以明民，将以愚之。民之难治，以其智多。故以智治国，国之贼；不以智治国，国之福。
If people ruled by leaders without wisdom are blessed, we are very fortunate in this day and age! But seriously, Old Lao Tzu did have some shrewd insights on good government. Consider verse 57:
"In the kingdom the more prohibitions, the poorer the people become...the more laws, the more thieves and robbers there are." 57道德经:天下多忌讳，而民弥贫...法令滋彰，盗贼多有。
No wonder Mark Twain said we had so many cons in Congress.
Not that I'm complaining--at least much. For all America's faults, at least we are allowed to complain about them--a freedom that in itself covers a multitude of sins. If dissent is allowed, change is possible--at least in theory.
Lao Tse's Three Treasures Lao Tse, by the way, had some priorities that it might do for our modern rulers to adopt. He said his three treasures were gentleness, frugality, and not putting himself first. He explained, "Gentleness lets me be bold, frugality enables me to be liberal, not putting myself above others allows me to take the place of highest honor. " He then said, "Now-a-days [2500 years ago!], they give up gentleness for boldness, frugality for liberality, and the hindmost place to be foremost--all ending in death."
Maybe Lao Tse knew what he was talking about after all!
In closing, here is Lao Tse on Over-Government:
"The people starve because overtaxed by officials. This causes famine. The people are hard to govern because they are governed too much. This makes them ungovernable." 75 道德经:民之饥，以其上食税之多，是以饥。民之难治，以其上之有为，是以难治
Well, I hear the bells of nearby Nanputuo Temple ringing; Congress must be back in session. Ommmmmmm.
Reference: Lao Tse's 3 Treasures: 道德经: 我有三宝，持而保之。一曰慈，二曰俭，三曰不敢为天下先。慈故能勇；俭故能广；不敢为天下先，故能成器长。今舍慈且勇；舍俭且广；舍后且先；死矣！