Government, in sum, must be limited to the smallest possible minimum; “inaction” was the proper function of government, since only inaction can permit the individual to flourish and achieve happiness. Any intervention by government, Lao-tzu declared, would be counterproductive, and would lead to confusion and turmoil. After referring to the common experience of mankind with government, Lao-tzu came to this incisive conclusion: “The more artificial taboos and restrictions there are in the world, the more the people are impoverished…. The more that laws and regulations are given prominence, the more thieves and robbers there will be.”
The wisest course, then, is to keep the government simple and for it to take no action, for then the world “stabilizes itself.” As Lao-tzu put it, “Therefore the Sage says: I take no action yet the people transform themselves, I favor quiescence and the people right themselves, I take no action and the people enrich themselves….”
Thanks for pointing that out, erudito.