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Posts Tagged ‘limited government’

What Should Be Government’s Role In A Complex World?

Agrarian and Industrial Societies: A Change In the Industrial Revolution

Limited Government , Under God, Vote Republican

On my way to Iowa City, I drive past an election sign still standing proudly in someone’s yard.  Some days, I smile to myself, amazed that anyone could think our country would be improved by that philosophy.  Most days, it just depresses me, knowing how many people fall for such simplistic thinking.

By “limited,”  do these people mean fewer laws and rules  governing business and personal conduct?  Perhaps they only wish to limit the ways in which the government can assist individuals.

I suspect they intend both, framing these ideals in a glorified yet incorrect version of our country’s history.

Yes, many of the Europeans who came to this continent were seeking a place where they could worship God in their own way, but many of them incorporated “their way” into community requirements with no tolerance for other peoples’ version of “their way.”   After nearly 150 years of this intolerance, when our country separated from English rule, with its own infighting between Catholics and Protestants, the men who wrote our constitution saw fit to include a provision disavowing government sponsored religion.

How would the sign-owner then define “under God”?  Would his “limited government” require all citizens to declare a belief in God?    Who’s version?

As to limited government, our world is a completely different place than it was when we set out to create government by and for the people.   Before us, all governments were the system by which powerholders kept that power.  No governments were interested in the welfare of its citizens beyond avoiding rebellions.  Commercial interests were controlled by and for the ruling parties.

Our world is now incomprehensively complex, compared to when we began this nation.  We now have the ability to affect people whom we will never meet face to face.  Our technologies allow us to cause great harm to the earth in many other places while we live safely out of danger.

We started this nation as a conglomerate of villages, small towns and farms.  Most people lived on farms and produced their own food, or had access to hunting grounds.  Not until the Industrial age did we have large numbers of people crowded together away from food sources.  Medical care beyond bonesetting and nursing, was practically non-existent.   People lived more active, healthier lifestyles.

When governments do not step in to help with some of the problems created by our increasingly complex and crowded world,  those problems do not go away, they morph into other problems.  One function of a government by and for the people, is to promote the general welfare of its’ citizens, and the scope of this function has changed along with our technology.

I so wish that “limited government” meant not legislating morality issues.  I do wish that people would stop confusing religious freedom with “one nation, under God.”

Laura Twing lives in Cedar county, with her husband, and various animal companions.

Limited Government (Under God)

When our nation’s founders wrote their remarkable (in theory and in actual words chosen) document, they worked on many versions, arguing with each other over many points.  They knew it was not dictated by God, not perfect, not a miraculous final word for all the ages.  For the first democracy of its kind, at that time in history, they did the best they knew how, compromising  with each other on various points.

And so it is now,  in a very different setting of social complexity, technical knowledge, and faster pace of change,  we need to redefine our expectations of our government.

We are no longer an agrarian nation.  We never will be again.   Our farms are now businesses.  Having no food assistance for poor people in cities is completely different from having no food assistance for people with the time and place to grow their own food.

When our government began,  medical care was very basic for everyone.  Doctors couldn’t do much better than dedicated nursing care from the family in most cases.

Where else do we want to limit government?  Education?  In those days, rich children were educated at home, privately.  Poor children left their families at very early ages, if they were lucky enough to find an apprenticeship somewhere.

Should we limit our national imagination and progress to only the already wealthy?

Courts and the justice system

Should we throw out all of our laws and start over from scratch?

At the time of our country’s beginning, all other governments were strictly and entirely about keeping the currently powerful people in power.  They were not about capitalism.  Laws made in every corner of the earth benefitted those in power, not businesses.  Justice was rarely an issue.

If we limit laws and the justice system, people without honor will soon abuse others.

Laura Twing lives in Cedar county, with her husband, and various animal companions.