Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Government's Role

THOUGHTS ON JULY FOURTH

At the same time that I appreciate our government, I have to wonder if Americans are turning it into our religion. As the government gains in power, our religions seem to be waning. Who, other than ourselves, is the caretaker of our soul? Do we sort out what is morally right and wrong in houses of worship or in Congress? I would argue that issues of a purely moral nature should have no legal standing. For example, what right does the government have to tell me that I have to keep my relative on life support? Or have children I don’t want? Or feed the poor?

I realize there’s a muddy middle ground here. Stealing has moral and legal ramifications. So does murder. Even speeding. These acts infringe on our neighbors, causing damage to them. Well, you might say, life support issues involve damage, albeit to a family member. That’s the line. It’s the moral duty of parents to care for their children and families, not legal. As an aside, children suffer the consequences of their birth. So be it. That’s better than having the government living in the house with you.

An afterthought, if you consider withholding money from the poor as causing damage to them, our moral argument unravels on semantics, definitions of such as “poor” and “care.” Perhaps you’ll think this cruel, but as long as a person is physically able to walk, talk, and function, I don’t think he’s poor.

Prejudice is a tough one. I can only say that looking to religion for moral guidance here is putting the wolf in charge of the hen house. For that reason, government must step in to protect victims.

Individuals should retain the right to make their own decisions in matters of morals. Though I don’t approve of the following, I believe I should have the right to:
waste my money
ignore my health
wear unacceptable or no clothes
tell lies
refuse to care for my family
live in a hovel
ignore poor and needy neighbors
spend money I don’t have as long as it’s not stolen
watch/live pornography
gamble away my savings and that of accommodating friends
put up unattractive houses/fences/structures on my property
be personally ugly in appearance
harm myself
believe absurdities
worship craven gods
allow my wife/husband/children/parents to go hungry
work 80 hours a week or not at all

At the same time, our government should not have the right to:
give me money somebody else earned
harm me
care for my family
keep me healthy
tell me lies
borrow money from me without my permission
make me pay for somebody else’s bills

Our government is at times justly identified as an instrument of abuse. At other times it fails to protect us when it should. As our financial and business concerns become more cohesive and complicated, only Congress has the clout to rein in abusive practices. Lately, it looks like our government doesn’t have the leadership or the comprehension to accomplish this.

I’m glad to have been born in America, especially when there’s so much conflict in other countries -- in the Middle East, Africa, and South America. From these conflicts, which seem interminable, one might deduce that any government is better than anarchy. 

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