Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Fundamental, Pervasive Misunderstanding of Government

I've been thinking a lot more recently about the problems with governments in general, and the government of the US in particular. I'm sure that's largely motivated by the huge expansion of socialist government control recently, but the problem is not confined to just the Socialist party currently in power; there were many issues with the previous Republican party as well, and with the government in general. It would certainly behoove the American people to address the recent egregious government abuses (and throw out as many of the responsible Congress-scum as possible), but it's also worthwhile to look at the bigger picture, and see what can be done to address the more systemic problems.

For example, one of the challenges in a representative democracy is that the leadership, and by extension the actions of the leadership, are limited by how intelligent and informed the voting populace is. In an ideal world, you get direct representation, and a government which works for the benefit of the people, and is accountable to their wishes and the betterment of the country; in the real world, you get the Obamanation, where everything is for sale, corruption is rampant, and the government takes advantage of the gullibility of the people to operate directly against the interests of the country, and for their own collective advantage. Clearly the current system is badly broken, and if it is allowed to continue to operate as it currently functions, America as a free country experiment is doomed to failure. It's less clear, however, how to fix it; as long as the people are allowed to elect the "representatives", and do so in an idiotic, uninformed, misguided, or selfish (ie: own interests above the country's) manner, America will still be dismantled by those who would take advantage of the collective stupidity of the masses.

Now, something which I have long understood, and clearly the founding fathers understood, is evidently sorely lacking from the collective consciousness of the voting populace. That is, the idea that government is a necessary evil: it exists to serve several vital social roles which cannot (as far as anyone has devised) be effectively served by any other mechanism (such as national defense, and the other principles spelled out in America's Declaration of Independence). However, government is inefficient and dangerous doing even its vital roles, and even more so for any other responsibilities and powers it assumes. The concept that "the government should/will do more to improve this" shouldn't really have a place in intelligent discussion, as virtually any time the government expands its actions and/or scope of power, it does so to the detriment of the people. Moreover, the idea that a bigger or more involved government is somehow better for the people is possibly one of the biggest, most dangerous, and most implausible myths ever propagated by Socialist and their complacent or unwitting supporters. If we, the people, could somehow abolish one lie from the consciousness of the voting population, we could do worse than getting rid of the idea that government is anything more than a necessary evil, which needs to be kept in check, lest it consume everything good about the country.

Unfortunately, I don't have any good answers for how to better educate the voting populace, and I'm not sure that's the answer anyway. It's clear, though, that our current system is very broken, and getting more so with each passing year, and if we the people don't manage to enact some systemic fixes, we soon may not be able to at all.

1 comment:

  1. I agree people need to stop thinking of gov't-involvement as a good way to solve problems. It seems to me people accept sending large amounts of money to Washington and then the game is to see how much you can get back. I like to see my local politicians working to get some of that federal money for our state and county, but that's really not a productive use of human effort. It would be better if we sent less taxes in the first place.

    All of this talk of "socialism" though makes it seem like your argument is ideological. Some people who condemn deficit spending today said nothing when we were doing it five years ago with much less justification.

    IMHO it's not as simple as "gov't is always a problem". In the healthcare discussion, I can understand the reasoning of spreading risk of illness among the entire population, even those who neglected to purchase health insurance before getting sick. But as you say, it invariably metastasizes into "just let us handle your problems". You cannot, IMHO, hire gov't to manage the day-to-day issues of your life and be free.

    I would love to see someone get a majority by reducing gov't spending simultaneously on Democratic projects (things designed to help people) and Republic projects (guns and jails and anything designed to punish people). I don't know politically how to make that happen.