Is Government the Answer?
Is Government the Answer?
For many things yes, government is the answer. It provides for the common good, protects us from our enemies, even from our fellow citizens. Helps provide order; prevent chaos, a safety net for the poor, for those that are unable to fend for themselves. It does a great many things that can reasonably be accomplished in no other way. But does it try to do too much? and in doing so, does it crowd out the innovation of the private sector? In trying to do more, does it insure that we get and keep less?
There is little question but that the government and our leaders generally try to do the right thing… But remember, there is nothing that government ever does or gives that did not take from someone else. By the defnition, the more the government does with one hand, the more it must take with the other. Our government takes from our left pocket puts part of it in our right pocket and we feel grateful…
So much of the taxes we are paying are hidden in the price, that the government is becoming like a clever con man and we the naive dupes. . We always see what it does, (the bridge, the building, government jobs), but we rarely see the damge that was done. i.e. the unintended consequences; the jobs that were lost due to being taxed or regulated out of business. The Jobs that were never created because the weight of regulation dissuaded the “boss” from even starting the business. How tough is it? Try to open a lemonade stand!
Government is good. It is necessary, but in trying to do ALL and protect ALL from Everything, the result is that it hurts everyone. It slows economic growth, prevents job creation, encourages government dependency, changes who we are as individuals and as a nation.
Many will disagree with what I’ve said above. If so, just honestly ask…
Does Government have limits? Can it or should it, try to solve ALL problems? Does it ever violate the law of unintended consequences? In trying to do good in one area, can it unleash a greater harm somewhere else? Is it really the government that spurs economic growth, create jobs for societal economic well being?
Many think that the answer is always more government jobs; more government employees, more people working, spending money, spurring the economy, etc… That sounds reasonable, but if more government funded jobs are good for the economy, why don’t we all just work for the feds or the state? That’s basically what the USSR did. If I remember right, they folded.
Or… does that economic philosophy bring into play the law of unintended and even unseen consequences? In creating a job for Bill (that we all see and applaud), does it unintentionally and unseen, destroy the job of Angela and Tom?
Is government really the engine of economic growth or is its most beneficial function to get out of the way and let the entrepreneurial drive of individuals create new businesses and more jobs?
What is the role of government? Is it to guarantee equal opportunity for all? Or is it to guarantee that we all have equal results? Is it to guarantee cradle to grave security? But, doesn’t that ultimately, diminish the dignity of the individual, sap their sense of personal responsibility by creating a deep personal dependency on government assistance? (And who is really paying for that?) Isn’t that what’s happening in Europe right now? Spain, Greece? The governments can’t sustain their entitlement spending and much of the populace has lost their independence. Are we headed there? Is that really where we want to go? Do we want a system in which we are all either dependent on the government or those of us who decide to work are all trapped in equal economic mediocrity? Equality of result rather than equality of opportunity?
Assuming we DID want government mandated equality of result, is it even actually possible? Could it even be sustained? What does history say? It’s been tried in the USSR and many other socialistic governments. The result is always eventually the same; a HUGE disparity of wealth, privilege and power for a few.
But, isn’t that what we have in the US? NO! We have different results, but in the vast majority of cases, we have similar opportunity. In the US, the common man, at least, has the opportunity to better their lives by working for it and EARNING it… in the alternative system, status and “accomplishment” is virtually ALWAYS bestowed through birth or stolen through force. Is that really better?
Opportunity vs Equality
Each world view has many brilliant people that support it. I happen to believe that equal opportunity with a social safety net is preferable to attempting to create a society that forces equality of result. Centralized government making all decisions and taking care of everyone is simply ineffective. I rarely doubt the nobility of the objectives, I simply see the history of results.
First off, in the history of humanity it has never properly worked. We’ve seen the failed results of the USSR and Cuba. We are seeing it now in the bloated government of Greece, wherein, they are on the verge of collapse due to the incredible overspending as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). (the fact is that the US is fast approaching a similar proportion of debt to GNP… this does not bode well). Government can’t do it all… and when it tries, it fails and usually makes things worse.
Government vs Private Solutions
Contrast the plight of North Korea vs South Korea; in the north, everything is controlled by the government, people are basically property of and “taken care of” by the state. It can’t even feed itself. Then look to South Korea, same geography, same resources, same opportunities… the only relevant striking difference between the two? In one, the engine of progress is government, in the other, it’s the individual.
In North Korea, the state runs everything… and fails. Whereas, in South Korea, the government is limited, capitalism thrives and so does it’s people and economy. Is it perfect? Of course not! But the differences between the two identically positioned countries is beyond staggering. Night time satellite pictures of the 2 countries show the north as virtually blacked out, the south looks like a Christmas tree! See the following satellite picture. Can you guess which is which?
That is the difference between a society controlled by a centralized government that thinks it knows best, how to do everything, has all the solutions and makes all the decisions vs a system fueled via free enterprise where progress within the society is the result of the decisions, choices, ingenuity and innovations of MILLIONS of free individuals. The genius of the US is derived not from bureaucrats but rather from individual citizens. History shows that more government takes control, the less free and productive citizens become.
What About China?
Abject failure had even been occurring with our “banker”, China. Economic stagnation was the norm even in China until some farmers illegally “experimented” with the right to “reap what you sow” i.e. capitalizm...
One day in 1978, the farmers got together and came up with a plan to illegally divide the farms up into plots; they all had to give food to the collective, but the farmers that met a certain quota could keep some food for themselves. They then signed a secret contract formalizing the agreement, and included a clause saying that in the event a farmer got arrested for the practice, the other villagers would raise their children. The result of this risky enterprise that season’s harvest was more than the previous five years combined. Capitalism in action!
When the government eventually got wind of what they were doing, the farmers were hauled in front of officials; but since you can’t argue with results, the government decided that instead of punishment, they deserved praise. That was the beginning of the economic powerhouse that we now see today. It wasn’t what government did, it was what they stopped doing… THEY GOT OUT OF THE WAY! Here is the difference, the incredible growth when it was controlled by people, not government…
The graph shows decades of stagnation that continued until the experiment. What do you think this graph would look like if the bureaucrats still micro manged the economy? Shouldn’t our leaders take hint?
But equality of result vs equality of opportunity, doesn’t that lead to unfairness? Wouldn’t that mean some would have less and some would have more? Some would be rich, would be poor? Yes, but shouldn’t I be able to work 20 hours a day, to give my family a better life? If I do so, is it really “unfair” that I actually have more than my neighbor whose idea of a rough day is watching an “Oprah” marathon?
Throughout the ages it has been known and taught that “we reap what we sow”.
History shows that when we reap less of what we sow, we sow less. That doesn’t make us bad or lazy… just human.
As was stated by one of the original Chinese “capitalist” farmers Yen Jingchang…
“Work hard, don’t work hard — everyone gets the same,” he says. “So people don’t want to work.”
If the system changes so that we reap, whether or not we even get out of bed, won’t most stop “sowing”? If we receive the same reward regardless of our effort, won’t most do less? This may seem good for that individual, but it is CANCER to the society. That is what happened in the USSR, Cuba, N. Korea, was happening in China and is happening now in Greece and other European countries. Quite frankly, the US is heading down that road.
Simply put, history has shown that wealthier, more productive societies are created when individuals have the “right” to succeed, to progress and to become “unequal”. I believe that as a society, we always need a safety net… but we also need opportunity.
The questions of where this nation decides to go and the path we attempt to take are of monumental importance! Where we go will not be determined by what we try and hope to do. Unfortunately, hope just doesn’t cut it. It will be determined by the actual decisions we make.
Decisions always have both intended and unintended consequences. It’s up to each of us to analyze and make sure that we know what they are. Regardless of our most noble desires and intended destination, if we choose the wrong path, we can still go over a cliff.
As a county, nation, people and world, we have some decisions to make. Quite frankly, the way that we, as a society answer them will determine what kind of lives and futures our children and their children will have. We all want the best and brightest possible future for ourselves, our families and friends. But we have no choice but to live the consequences of our decisions. This is true of us as individuals and it is true of us as a nation. We have some decisions to make…
I have a Question for you… Assuming you had the power… What do you do?