Monday, October 17, 2016

The Role of Government

A couple of years ago I was at the local Republican Party (Minnesota District 34) meeting and they had Dr. David Schultz of Hamline University as a guest speaker.  He lectured the audience on how bad a system the Constitution is for governing the country.  He called it “the machine”.  I tried to point out (if you think I am a bad writer, I am even worse as a speaker) that good or bad has to be judged in terms of purpose.  The Toyota Pries is as bad a dirt hauler as a Terex 6300 is as a commuter vehicle. But each may be perfectly acceptable for the role they were designed to fulfill.  Be that as it may, the point is what do YOU believe the role of government should be.

Many people; and I believe that Dr. Schultz is in this group, believe that the role of government is to make the lives of the country’s citizens safer, easier, and more egalitarian.  I call these people Type 1’s.  In February 2005, Richard Parker, a liberal economist, wrote an article in the Boston Globe titled, The Pragmatist and the Utopian, in which he blamed Milton Friedman and the free market advocates for every economic misfortune since the 70’s. Parker’s criticism is that in no way has the country achieved more equality, requires less effort, or is safer than it was 25 years ago.  In sociology there are two doctrines on how life can be made safer, easier and more egalitarian.  The first is Symbolic/Interaction, which states (you can google these for fuller explanations) that our institutions and culture form our attitudes and behaviors.  Only by changing the institutions of the poor and disadvantaged will they be able to prosper.  On the other side are the Structural/Functionalists who believe that we have free will and can be anything that we want.  That society is basically good and the problems are caused by deficiencies in the people not being able to adapt or dysfunctional consequences of government action.  The problem is with these goals themselves; each of these goals is reflected by a characteristic human value; egalitarianism is of course about irresponsibility (equality of outcome), lazy people think life should be easy, and safety is important to the cowards. Irresponsible, lazy and cowardice are the human values that are being aggrandized in this system.  I believe this desire for safer, easier, and egalitarian always leads to economic, moral (social), and spiritual bankruptcy. I addressed this belief here: Liberals are cowards, lazy, and irrespnsible.

The next group of people are those who believe that the role of government (they aspire to power) is to be able to reward themselves and their friends and punish their enemies.  I call these people Type 2’s.  Sociologists refer to this as Social Conflict. People who believe in social conflict believe there are poor people because there are rich people.  They believe that the immigrants and poor and downtrodden are holding us back, or else the banksters are stealing all our money.  The defining trait of people who believe in social conflict is that they are never at fault. It is Bush’s fault they say, or the weather, or the Republicans searching for scandal, or obstructing, or you can fill in the blanks.  No matter what happens or how bad it gets, they are always right.  These people not only include the corrupt and criminal dictators and tyrants enriching themselves and their friends but also the white supremacists, the black lives matter group, and the religious zealots attempting to bend humanity to their will.

The last group is a small minority who believe that the role of government is to: “Secure the blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity” I call these people “stupid”. This is “sort of” the Libertarian positions but like Christianity there are all kinds of people who call themselves Libertarian.  The point I would like to make to the Libertarians is that it is not about (as Richard Parker argued) making life easier, safer and more egalitarian.  It is the opposite.  Prosperity and wealth are created by what I call “work, worry, and woe”.  Anything people do to increase the safety, egalitarianism, or make life easier will make it less prosperous.  I mean, how do you explain to the ignorant and superstitious that the only way to make life better is to make it less safe, less easy, and less egalitarian?   People should ask, “Do I want to squat in a hovel where life is easy and everyone is safe and equal like in Zimbabwe, Cuba, or North Korea or would I rather live in a society of wealth and prosperity even though it is unsafe, unequal, and requires constant effort?  

To summarize for “Guest”, Visions for the role of government:
1. “Make life safer, easier, and more egalitarian”, Called Type 1’s.
2. “Reward the people in power and their allies”, Called Type 2’s.
3. “Secure the Blessings of Liberty for ourselves and our posterity”, while hard, unsafe and unequal produces prosperity, people who advocate this are called “Stupid”.

Since I am a cynic, I believe that the vast majority of people who claim to be Type 1’s are in reality Type 2’s.  The only two examples of Type 1’s I can identify right now are Kim Jong-un of Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the Castro brothers of the Rep├║blica de Cuba.  In both these countries the people are safe, life is easy, and definitely (in the vast majority) egalitarian.  They have good schools and equal medical care. There is very little crime or violence. The people eat healthy organic diets and neither country has significant obesity or type II diabetes.  Both are environmentally responsible with very small carbon footprints. They don’t have to worry about losing their jobs to bad times and big machines. They are perfect states of peace and tranquility.  They are the models that many in the United States hope we can emulate.  That point being made, I thank the god Jehovah every night that I live in a country that is governed by the corrupt, criminal, and crazy. My question for Dr. Murphy: What do you believe will be the role for government when Jesus takes his throne?  (See Matthew 25:21, Rev 3:21, Rev 4:2) How will he govern?

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