A Critique Of Role Of Nation And Role Of Government

All around us, people are willing to stand up and claim countless numbers of rights that ought be bestowed upon people of all kinds.  The right to a fair wage.  The right to food.  To housing.  To clothing and even medical care.  The list is seemingly endless.  There is no satiating the claims upon the grace of the blessed.

Of course, no right exists that compels one man to labor for another; that is tyranny and we’ve rejected that long ago.  Though it rears it’s ugly head again and again, perhaps never to be truly defeated, we must continually be vigilant.

Tonight, while having dinner with my 6 year old son I started a conversation surrounding those less fortunate than ourselves.  I asked him, for example, are we lucky, are we blessed?  He answered that we are blessed and lucky.

Then I asked him what our family, literally, mom and I, should do to help those less fortunate in our community.  His answer was that we should give them what they need because “not everyone can be lucky.”  I smiled and agreed that indeed, we should take great care in making sure our neighbors and friends have what they need.

But then I asked him if he thought it would be okay if that same person came and took what he needed from our house.  It might be money, or food or clothes.  Or maybe that person would make me get up and go to work but would get the money instead of me.

He didn’t think that was okay.  I asked him why:

Because that would be like a robber.

Indeed.

Look, I get it.  I want the world to be a better place too.  I want people to take care of other people and be nice.  To contribute to those who need to be warm, and full and safe and healthy.  But that does NOT mean that I can steal from some in order to meet that want.

And a six year old understands that.

 

 

8 responses to “A Critique Of Role Of Nation And Role Of Government

  1. Of course. That’s why we have laws against it. But almost everyone in the country supports the idea that our Democratically elected representatives can meet and vote to levy taxes in accord with what the constitution allows, under the condition that there is transparency and that citizens can regularly hold those who make such decisions accountable. If people thought THAT was being like a robber, they wouldn’t support and maintain such a system. They understand that people who have lots of wealth have not earned it completely on their own, but because of the actions of government. People like that, and support that, and recognize it definitely is NOT theft!

    • But almost everyone in the country supports the idea that our Democratically elected representatives can meet and vote to levy taxes in accord with what the constitution allows

      No Scott, that is not true. I might have thought it true, or more true, just a year ago. But now we see that congress can tax you for not buying healthcare. Using the same logic, congress can tax you for not purchasing broccoli. It can tax you for not buying a car, or the right car.

      in accord with what the constitution allows

      I think that we have to be honest here and admit that the constitution is no longer seen as a viable document. It is, as they say, insufficient.

      They understand that people who have lots of wealth have not earned it completely on their own, but because of the actions of government.

      I’m sure we run i different circles. You in University, me in the trenches of corporate America. But I assure you that few in my circles think that government had anything to do with the earning of the money we make. Our money is made in spite of the government, not because of it.

      People like that, and support that, and recognize it definitely is NOT theft!

      The thing is, when we talk about the proper role of government, people agree with you. We know that we have to pay the cop, the teacher and the stop sign maker. THOSE things we agree on. But where we split, where we’ve changed from our original charter, is the idea that another MAN has claim, legal claim, to our property. There should be no government mandate that I labor for another man.

  2. The government doesn’t mandate that you labor for another man. First, all taxes are agreed on via a democratic process, supported historically by both parties and most people. There is no objectively true role of government, it’s whatever the people decide it to be – and they can change their minds over time. But remember: 1) US taxes are at or near the lowest in the world, especially for the wealthier, 2)people who have a lot have not earned all that due to their labor — if you look at what the labor truly added in value to our prosperity, it would be a lot less than what many earns (while some who labor tremendously hard earn little). They were able to turn some labor into massive returns thanks to a functioning market system, and 3) the state makes that functioning market system possible.

    So to me it’s not a moral argument about the role of government – people will disagree on that and there is no way to determine who is right, that’s why we use the processes of a constitutional democracy to make that call. I think the issue is – and we’ll find more agreement on – practical issues. Does this spending help? Does it work to achieve the goal, or does it perhaps create dependency, which neither of us want? Do we need such an active and expensive role in the world? Should the retirement age be raised? How can we have a sustainable budget? What compromises do both sides have to make to make that possible? Can people of diverse opinions learn from each other and end up with a system that is better because it takes into account so many different perspectives?

    But the idea money is made in spite of government is objectively false. Nowhere without a strong, stable government do you find prosperity. Prosperity increased the most dramatically as the government became more active, in fact. In places where government breaks down, so does the market economy – and those who make money do so through corruption and organized crime. There is massive evidence that shows that prosperity requires and effective state, with democratic states the best. There is no evidence to suggest that very weak governments correlate to prosperity across society.

    • The government doesn’t mandate that you labor for another man.

      Of course it does. I’m laboring for another man’s food. His house. And now his medical care.

      I’m surprised you take this line of thinking. I would have expected you to say that while we DO mandate it, it’s for the common good.

      There is no objectively true role of government, it’s whatever the people decide it to be – and they can change their minds over time.

      Objecting to that is what made America great. The idea that we are sovereign individuals. Now, to the extent that we can change that, sure. But then we aren’t what we used to be. We’re what we left.

      2)people who have a lot have not earned all that due to their labor

      Not strictly true. People who have a lot STILL have a lot due to government. But what those people earned, they certainly earned it themselves.

      Does this spending help? Does it work to achieve the goal, or does it perhaps create dependency, which neither of us want? Do we need such an active and expensive role in the world? Should the retirement age be raised? How can we have a sustainable budget? What compromises do both sides have to make to make that possible? Can people of diverse opinions learn from each other and end up with a system that is better because it takes into account so many different perspectives?

      Yes. Clearly we differ on this; you being more pragmatic and me being more – more rigid.

      Nowhere without a strong, stable government do you find prosperity.

      Not true. There are very strong stable governments the world over where people languish in poverty. If you want to find those places in the arc of history where man has been the most wealthy, it is where individual property rights are the strongest and where free markets have been allowed to flourish.

      There is massive evidence that shows that prosperity requires and effective state, with democratic states the best.

      Guaranteeing the rights of Liberty only.

  3. You don’t counter my statement: “I said “nowhere without a strong, stable government do you find prosperity.” Your reply: “There are strong governments where people are in poverty.”

    I said you never find B without A. You response was you can find C with A. That doesn’t deny the former. Moreover, the freest markets were in Great Britain in the early 19th Century. They had sweat shops for the masses worse than what we find in the third world now. That led to political action to empower unions, stop child labor, expand suffrage, and allow the state to take a more active role. That led to an increase in total prosperity. In the West after WWII prosperity grew as did government. So I don’t understand why you claim what you do about the ‘arc of history.’ I don’t think your statement is accurate, do you have evidence to support it?

    We’re not what we used to be – but we are better than we used to be. Blacks are no longer slaves and in fact can become President, women have rights, and in general we’ve achieved a level of prosperity never before in history. However, in the US we’ve had a massive growth in income and wealth disparity over the last thirty years. I think that will destabilize society and harm nearly everyone, wealthy or not, if that’s not addressed.

    • You don’t counter my statement: “I said “nowhere without a strong, stable government do you find prosperity.” Your reply: “There are strong governments where people are in poverty.”

      It’s not the strong government that is sufficient. You need a strong government that cherishes individual liberty. For example, France. A very strong government, not a liberty lover. And they are a disaster.

      I don’t think your statement is accurate, do you have evidence to support it?

      Find those times in history when the average man has been most wealthy. There you will find strong property rights and individual liberty.

  4. France doesn’t love liberty? France is a disaster? You need to defend that statement, Pino. My specialty is European politics, I teach a course on French politics. There are problems in France, as there are here or anywhere, but it’s hardly a disaster, and people are in many ways more free than they are here! The French debt to GDP ratio is about 85%. Not great, but lower than ours! The French have had steady economic growth. Germany and the Social Democratic high tax Scandinavian countries have been out performing our economy and doing very well. They are the strongest economies in Europe, with the highest level of social equality. And they are wealthy countries! The standard of living and quality of life are very high.

    • France doesn’t love liberty? France is a disaster?

      Correct. France routinely confiscates property at exorbitant rates. They have incredibly restrictive labor laws that retard economic growth. And say nothing of the hijab laws.

      And yes, France is an economic disaster.

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