Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Role of Government and Definition of Freedom

OSO left the following comment on yesterday's post:

The ability to care for the weak and helpless define us as a civilisation. Our inability to help defines us too.

Our wage, our income, does not come to us because we deserve it. It is not due to our hard work or skill. It comes to us because the "market" determines its value, and the market is not concerned with fairness or wellbeing.

Our income comes to us based upon hidden subsidies found in a civil, ordered society. Without police, judges, teachers, doctors, nurses and a multitude of others paving the way, our income would be less.

We owe society for the income it gives us. We owe society for not breaking down. We owe society for preventing crime in our area. We owe society for an educated population, who can make better decisions that benefit us directly and indirectly, financially and not financially.

A country exists as a group of people, not as a canvass for a person's selfishness. The US Constitution was written for a group of people, not for one person.

There are many ways that community can band together and improve things for all. The most normal way is for tax revenue to be raised to pay for things that keep society together (roads, schools, law & order, health, etc). Without this cost being incurred through tax, the individual cost of coping with the inevitable societal breakdown would be much higher.

And it therefore stands to reason that those who benefit most from the market should in turn be made to pay proportionally more - for without society providing the peace the rich person may never have gotten rich in the first place.

I responded to him in the comment section of that post. I will admit that I found parts of this comment offensive. In reality, this boils down to a difference in thought in regard to government and the role it should/should not have in our society. It is almost as if conservatives are coming across as not agreeing with any kind of tax at all... that is not the case. It is about how those tax dollars are spent and about how much in taxes should be taken. There also seems to be an inability to understand that our tax system is and has been set up to where those who make more pay more. It leads me to believe that the thought is more communistic than socialist in that any and all differences in ability should not be recognized through income.


1. What do you see as the ideal role of government?

2. What is your definition of freedom?

3. What is your opinion on what OSO had to say?


Two Dogs said...

The first thing that I thought was that it was an excerpt from a John Kennedy speech, but I couldn't find it on the web.

The role of the FEDERAL government is to protect our borders. population, and our individual rights endowed by our Creator, and facilitate the dealings between the state governments.

Freedom is the ability to live my life FOR me and to be left alone to conduct my business as I see fit. My relationships with other people are dictated by my actions and not the government.

Maybe OSO's wages are not earned, but mine are and are MINE TO KEEP. Yes, the market does set the rate, from the supply and demand angle, but it ME AND ONLY ME that determines whether I shall conform to the prevailing rates. Check out all the architecture businesses laying off and failing. They determined that they would not modify their fees to the market. AND FAILED. That is FREEDOM. And stupidity, but who's keeping score?

By the way, the government is not subsidizing ME, I am subsidizing THEM and I OWE NO ONE for anything.

One Salient Oversight said...

Alright, some explanations.

The "Canvas for selfishness" is anyone who somehow thinks that the sole existence of the constitution is to protect them and and them only.

Charitable giving is not and never has been enough. In times of recession, the amount of charitable giving drops while simultaneously its need increases.

To depend upon charitable giving also assumes the goodness of those who give. In many ways it is a trust in the goodness of mankind and is actually quite utopian.

The argument thus is that, in order to be more effective, money should be diverted using tax revenue and welfare systems. That was what developed in many western nations during the 19th century.

Tax brackets are common in all nations. I am in favour of any system that taxes the rich at a higher rate.

One Salient Oversight said...

It leads me to believe that the thought is more communistic than socialist in that any and all differences in ability should not be recognized through income.

The US Constitution and thus US law views people as equally valuable. That's not socialist or communist, it's part of common law.

Two Dogs said...

OSO, wonder what abolishing the minimum wage would do to the VALUE of currency? Wonder what having a minimum wage does to the VALUE of currency? Wonder what the government TAKING money from working people and GIVING money to deadbeats does to the VALUE of currency? Wonder what people do in Zimbabwe for money?

Just know, your ideology has NEVER WORKED IN PRACTICE IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD. Your economic model is in practice in Cuba. Why do you NOT live there?

One Salient Oversight said...

Geez, it works here.

BLBeamer said...

1. I think James Madison and his illustrious comrades nailed it: "...establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty...".
2. I define freedom just as the composer of "America the Beautiful" did: "liberty, in law". I disagree with those who believe true freedom is "freedom to ..." as opposed to "freedom from ...".
3. I disagree with some, but not not all, of what OSO said. One example: I don't believe an intangible construct called "society" gives us income.