Among the issues most commonly discussed are individuality, the rights of the individual, the limits of legitimate government, morality, history, economics, government policy, science, business, education, health care, energy, and man-made global warming evaluations. My posts are aimed at thinking, intelligent individuals, whose comments are very welcome.

"No matter how vast your knowledge or how modest, it is your own mind that has to acquire it." Ayn Rand

19 December 2011

The Legitimate Role of Government - Summarized

In determining the proper role of government, we have to start with some foundational observations. Man must use reason to identify reality and to choose the values he will pursue. He must be free to use his mind to then pursue those values, which is the pursuit of his happiness.

The advantages of a society accrue optimally if a man is free to associate with others of his choosing for the purposes of his choosing. When that is the case, his ability to use his reasoning capability is amplified and he is better able to achieve his chosen values. People are complex and highly differentiated, so while they share some basic needs universally, such as their equal, sovereign individual rights, their choices of values beyond that level quickly diverge in many ways. Yet, as long as they have freedom of association, they can trade and cooperate to develop ideas, goods, and services with selected others to enhance and enrich their lives in the pursuit of their personal happiness. For some this may place great emphasis on material goods, for others the goal is more intellectual, and for others the goal is to have much time for recreation. This divergence of choices is all well accommodated by the private sector, given a legitimate government that only protects the People's equal, sovereign individual rights. This ideal of legitimate government was defined in the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution was to so limit the power and scope of government that it had no function but to protect our individual rights.

Because Americans have ignored these basic concepts of individual human nature, the advantages of society, the nature and need for individual rights in society, and the role of legitimate government, we have a government that dictates the choice of values to the individual and which ignores his own personal values. In the pursuit of decreeing values and micromanaging the lives of every individual, this government has become complex and tyrannical. The complexity of the government has made it unmanageable by our elected politicians. It has made it a threat to everyone and to every interest, since it is incompetent in identifying our personal values and has pursued many extortion schemes. Special interests must respond with lobbying to protect themselves from these misunderstandings and extortion schemes.

Other special interests observe that the government is much too complex for the People to understand what is going on and for them to control it. Since the government is out-of-control, it is easy for the clever and invested special interest to manipulate the levers of power in the government to provide their special interest with favors, such as restrictions upon competition with them or subsidies and grants. Soon, the big government that claims it is trying to do the greatest good for the greatest number is doing nothing of the sort. It is actually doing the greatest harm to the greatest number. In order to help Peter, it is robbing Paul and preventing Joe and David from pursuing their personal values.

This government is not providing for the General Welfare and has become the tool of rapacious special interests. This is the inevitable result of government that has lost the understanding that its only legitimate function is to protect the equal, sovereign individual right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The protection of our individual rights is the only way government can enhance the General Welfare and escape becoming a tyranny controlled by special interests.

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