Thursday, July 07, 2016

Government

A key disagreement today is between "big government" and "limited government". Liberals typically strive for more and more government and conservatives typically aim for less. Libertarians edge toward none at all. (The actual "none at all" group would be anarchists.) But the question is "Why government?" If we cannot recall the purpose of government, how can we determine which form -- big or limited, a democracy or a republic or socialist/communist, benevolent dictatorship or totalitarian, whatever -- is the best? There is a reason for government and I think most of us have forgotten what it is.

In God's original design there was no human government. It was every man for himself, so to speak. The result of this arrangement was "every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes." (Deut 12:8). God instituted a theocracy in Israel, but they voted that down. In the New Testament we read that "there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God." (Rom 13:1) Government, then, was established by God. Why?

Thomas Jefferson argued that for a nation to be successful it required a moral foundation. "The practice of morality being necessary for the well-being of society, [our Creator] has taken care to impress its precepts so indelibly on our hearts that they shall not be effaced by the subtleties of our brain," Jefferson wrote to J. Fishback in 1809. James Madison wrote, "To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people is a chimerical idea." Why is morality key to proper function of a nation? Because the more moral people are, the less government they need. That is, people who carefully govern themselves as individuals need little external government. Government, then, is required to the extent that individuals fail to govern themselves.

If it is true, then, that government is necessary where individuals are not sufficiently self-governed, it would also be true that the form and size of government would be determined by the magnitude of this absence of self-government. In other words, the less moral the individuals of a group or nation, the bigger and more restrictive the government will need to be.

Welcome to the 21st century, where our national moral code is so slippery that new and harsher laws are needed to regulate us. Why is government as big as it is? We've made it necessary. Will it get bigger? Given our propensity to indulge individual immoralities and call them "protected" and even "identity", I cannot imagine any other outcome. In fact, given the current trajectory of our combined morality, I don't imagine that democracy can continue too long. Less self-government will bankrupt the system both from voting self more money and from demanding more enforcement. More control will be needed. What can lead people from this kind of personal anarchy to self-control? Only one thing I know of, and it's not better laws (Gal 5:22-23).

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

One of my suggestions for the vote is that everyone currently eligible to vote gets one voting point, and each such individual also receives an exta voting point for each $____ that the person has paid in income tax (federal or state, depending on the nature of the vote) in some previous span of time-- for instance, four years. I've though about what that dollar amount should be, but I'll leave it blank here. The people who pay for government ought to have the most say in how government is run, and this voting-points idea would help implement that.

On the topic of theocracy, one thing I recently heard is that executing witches was "the proper thing to do under the theocratic dispensation. It is not currently proper, and the Africans who are doing it err, but it will be justified again if that dispensation reappears."

Stan said...

I'm pretty sure we wouldn't want to give the top 1% of money makers in the country control of the vote. Since that group pays 85% of the taxes, that's what would happen.

As for the theocracy, the only theocracy that would work would be the one instituted by and run by God. On one hand, that would eliminate that "executing witches" thing. On the other hand, no one would allow it. (Israel didn't.)