I was asked the other day by the chairman of the Democratic Party in a midwestern state if at any point in the past 100 years did I think the governemt “had it right.” We had been going back and forth about some social issues, probably relative to that monstrosity, the ACA. I was doing my usual griping about government overreach. He, as a Democrat, was singing its praises. I think we know which side of that argument is the correct one.
Anyway, his question is a good one, and leads to the larger question of how much government is the right amount? A progressive would ask, “How much can we get away with?” A conservative such as myself would ask, “How little can we get away with?”
As I understand history, which is remarkably well considering I am a product of the public school system – let me go there for a second. I am old enough to remember in history classes how we were taught to honor the flag and to remember with gratitude those who fought and died for our freedoms. It was serious business to hear of America’s trials with evil governments seeking to wreck our freedoms. Talking with my nephews, nieces, and children, some grown, I don’t hear that at all. I hear how bad and oppressive America is, and how overbearing Western Civilization is in general.
To that, I simply ask the youngsters to think of all of the advances made in medicine, in technology, in the arts, in science, in philosophy – in every area known to man – and inform me of a greater contributor to progress than that of Western Civilization. Sure, I know the Egyptians built some big ol’ pyramids (perhaps with some aliens’ help), and I know some Chinese people way back when figured out some pretty cool stuff to do with herbs, but let’s face facts. Compare our space program, for example, to those cultures who have barely invented the wheel. Look into the finest telescope made by Westerners and compare the knowledge of the universe gained against other cultures who still think the stars are just a few miles up in the air…. if they even know how to accurately measure distances through the air.
Should you think me racist and ethnocentric (who isn’t ethnocentric?), please know that many, many tomes have been written hypothesizing why some cultures advance so far over others. Read Jared Diamond’s, Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, for instance.
Back to my point. As I understand history, our government was established to be a type of self-government. The founding fathers (can we still call them fathers?) thought that maybe the people themselves could decide who should represent their best interests, and they didn’t need a king to do it. They didn’t need anyone to tell them how to worship either.
There. That’s it. Sure, I also remember some names of battles and key military and government officials, but in a nutshell, that’s it. The thought was: freedom works. Free people are best fit to decide their own affairs.
Now, of course, some laws are needed whenever folks live near each other. Festus wasn’t free to steal Mortimer’s mule as his own just because he wanted it. Mortimer wasn’t at liberty to kill Festus for the theft, just because he sought justice. So, a system of laws, based on Judeo-Christian ethics (gasp!), were set up to govern the affairs of men.
I have no problem with necessary levels of government, not that anyone besides the Chairman I mentioned even cares for my opinion on the matter.
It says in Scripture that, “… every person (should) be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.” Paul wrote that in Romans.
Not sure what that means regarding the little revolution we had to separate from England to begin with. Not sure either what that means regarding our current Dear Leader. I think he is an atrocious human being, and a worse president. However, it is clear that he is in power only because God has allowed him to be.
Many people clamor for hands-off government. That precludes Bill Clinton ever being in power again, but the idea, l’aissez-faire, does appeal to the Libertarian mind. Thing is, libertarianism, where each individual is pretty much to be left alone, requires a moral people. As Mr. de Tocqueville noted, “America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.” Not sure how much a Frenchman can know about being great, but I believe the point stands. I also think a brief examination of the ferality of our culture will reveal that America is no longer good. Take a trip to your local mall.
By the way, I made up that word, “ferality,” to honor any progressives who might be reading this. For the progressive, words can be stretched and wrinkled to mean any old thing. “Feral” means wild and untamed, so I folded that adjective into the noun, “ferality.”
So, we have immoral people. The solution to peace and prosperity will not be found in electing immoral people to govern over other immorals.
Man is depraved. At his core. Depraved. Selfish. Deceitful. The Bible says in Jeremiah, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
Therefore, the question stands. “How much government is necessary?”
Perhaps we should ignore our own platitudes and fall facedown before our benevolent Creator and ask Him for mercy and direction…. as a nation, as individuals.
As I used to tell my students at the private school, “You – each one of you – control yourself, and everything will be fine.” Wouldn’t that be nice for everyone to do? A few basic laws, a few precepts, and within that structure, liberty.
This depravity of man thing is real, by the way. It moves me right into why I believe capitalism is the best system, for lack of a better word. But that’s for another day.