A Thought on the Purpose of Government

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Nicki makes an important point at The Liberty Zone (via Sarah Hoyt in Instapundit), related to the Paris attack:

So yes. They need to shut their borders down. It might be callous, but it’s the only way to protect the citizens of those nations, and after all, isn’t that the basic role of government?

Americans and other Westerners need to spend some time with that question and discuss each other’s responses.  It should be a basic question during debates and interviews with politicians: What is the basic role of government?

Whatever they might say, it’s obvious that progressives, including the current President of the United States, believe the basic role of government is to organize and run society.  One consequence of that view (which, I’d argue, is really one of its primary motivations) is that a basic role of government is the dispensation of benefits.

When it comes down to it, that’s a central principle behind the governments in Europe and the United States that are throwing open doors for masses of low-skilled immigrants.  They’re offering the benefit of safety, first, but then the security of government welfare and the promise of complete education, healthcare, and nutrition for the immigrants’s children.  Most of the supporters of such activity would probably acknowledge that there is another side — namely, the question of how much our society can bear.  But their thinking generally seems to be no deeper than that of the college student who doesn’t quite know how much “the 1%” can or should hand over, but is certain that it’s more than is currently confiscated and is confident that they’ll always be there to take the hit.

That is, the basic role of government is to dispense the benefits, with the protection of current citizens as a secondary consideration.  If they start to hurt, maybe we’ll adjust things.  (Or better yet, we’ll offer government benefits to those among them whom we deem worthy, whether the ultra-rich investors or the lower classes.)

As a civic matter, this is backwards.  We institute governments to secure our rights and, yes, to preserve our culture.  That view of government can go too far, of course, and become a dangerously aggressive nationalism, but that’s the basic principle with which we should start.  No doubt, it’s easier to run away from that particular duty as the inverse of nationalism, because the consequences are less direct, but the boot comes down on the throat regardless.



  • Rhett Hardwick

    ” It should be a basic question during debates and interviews with politicians: What is the basic role of government?”

    For me, this does not require much thought. The basic purposes of our government are set forth in the preamble to our Constitution and include “provide for the common defense”. As with any weighty concept, I suppose there is room for debate as to the exact meaning. I have already heard this being compared to the “Japanese incarceration”, a ridiculous comparison as most of those people were already U.S. citizens. That we may have over reacted does not alter the fact that there were Japanese spies and cost watchers that did us significant harm.

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