Government is kind, Government is smart, Government is important
I have a very left-leaning friend who is extremely well-educated, and over the last couple years, we’ve gotten into some interesting conversations; almost always about politics or religion. What I didn’t realize until of late, is that we have an entirely different conception of why governments are “instituted among men.” Recently, she shared a picture on Facebook. This quote from a 2002 speech made by Ron Paul:
“If we stuck to the Constitution as written, we would have: no federal meddling in our schools; no Federal Reserve; no U.S. membership in the UN; no gun control; and no foreign aid. We would have no welfare for big corporations, or the “poor”; no American troops in 100 foreign countries; no Nafta, Gatt, or “fast-track”; no arrogant federal judges usurping states rights; no attacks on private property; and no income tax. We could get rid of most of the cabinet departments, most of the agencies, and most of the budget. The government would be small, frugal, and limited.”
But her personal commentary is what caught my attention. Attached to the picture, she wrote, “That is an uncaring, stagnant, and terrifying America to imagine. Oh, and we would still have slavery.”
Now, her opinion isn’t unique. Ahistorical analysis at the end aside, the political and philosophical implications of her statement struck me as I sat at my computer. What underlies the beliefs of so many people on the left is the notion that the government was instated to be caring.
First off, it’s not the government’s job to be “caring.” It’s the government’s job to protect our life, liberty, and property from exterior infringement – not to coddle us. But if we want to use the rhetoric of the left, is there one statement in Ron Paul’s speech really advocating for an “uncaring” America?
- The first thing Dr. Paul mentions is federal meddling in our schools: Common Core, student quotas, etc – all of those are based on the government’s assumption that every child thinks and learns the same way, turning the classroom into a bastion of standardization where creativity isn’t allowed and parents don’t get to choose how or what their kids learn. That is uncaring.
- The Federal Reserve uses artificial interest rates and continually pumps money into an economy that they’re not allowing to freely flourish, ending in the waste of billions of taxpayer dollars every year. That gross waste of money is uncaring.
- Welfare for big corporations is another aspect of Dr. Paul’s speech – subsidizing businesses in an attempt to “spare” the business owner when their product is no longer desired and ignoring the market signals and the actual wants of the consumer. Rendering the business owner dependent solely on the government is uncaring.
- One of the last things quoted regards income tax – increasing taxes on someone solely because they make more money than someone else is extremely unfair and according to some definitions, theft. Would a “caring” government steal from its’ own citizens?
- Along with domestic issues, Dr. Paul also mentions our membership in the UN and our troops in foreign countries. America has taken up a mantle of being the world’s protector, and because of that it has incentivized countries to make their own military a lesser priority. If America has promised to come to the aid of every country in the UN who feels threatened, what purpose is there for a strong military? Rendering countries weak and unable to sustain their own military is uncaring.
The next topic the post addresses is “stagnation.” Every single platform that Ron Paul has ever advocated for as a congressman, a presidential nominee and a fellow defender of liberty has had the aim of combating stagnation, both socially and economically. When the government allows the economy to function in a free market, people trade goods and services based on how they subjectively value those goods and services. Business interactions transcend into the culture by making people more tolerant. To succeed in business without government intervention, you have to be tolerant.
Here’s a real-world example: Say John owns a café, but a customer comes in wearing a shirt promoting a belief that John vehemently disagrees with. He refuses to serve the customer. The customer, understandably, gets offended and leaves. If John continues that trend, he will eventually go out of business because no one will want to buy their coffee from his store. However, Blake owns a café down the street, and will sell to everyone, regardless of their beliefs. His business is flourishing, because despite what he may personally believe, he is free to conduct business with whomever he wants. If Blake desires to continue with his successful business, he will sell his goods to anybody who walks through that door. In a society where the government is removed from these contractual interactions, both the economy and society flourish.
None of this is to say that the original intent of any of the government’s actions isn’t rooted in good intentions. But those who imagine government to be a considerate, big brotherly entity don’t realize that federal actions taken in an effort to be “caring” tend to be laden with unintended consequences. A government entrusted with the power to be “caring,” is a sure way to see the opposite ensue.