Public Policy #1
It is important to know what the purpose of government is because you can’t know how the government should be doing its job if you don’t even know what that job is and what it’s limits should be. The problem is that there is more than one answer to the question of the purpose of government. The two most important views on government are the founding, and modern,or liberal views.
The founding fathers believed that government should have only a few limited jobs. The two most important of which are defending the country and its citizens from other countries and protecting the rights of the individual. They also believed that no individuals or groups should get any special privileges from the government. The one exception to the no special privileges rule was in the case of service to the public. A good example of a group of people who deserve special privileges are military veterans. The founder’s simple view on government can be explained in the saying “equal rights for all Americans, special privileges for none”.
The founders of America believed that the government should protect the people by keeping the boarders secure, defending against foreign threats with the military, and keeping foreign policy focused on national security. They also believed that to protect individual rights the government should protect its citizens from individuals who would violate their natural rights, through enforcement of criminal law.
The liberal view, which is shared by both political parties, is very different from the founding view. The liberal view is that government exists to provide services and favors to certain groups of people who are classified as disadvantaged. These handouts and services are an attempt to level the playing field. The people who promote this view of government also say that foreign policy should be conducted by a group of transnational elites for the good of the planet as a whole.
Now the question is, how well is government doing its job? The answer to that question is that the government isn’t doing a good job at fulfilling either the liberal or the founding views of what the government should be.
How is government doing at the basic principle “equal rights for all Americans, special privileges for none”? As for equal rights, one of the most important ways to protect individual rights is enforcement of criminal law. In big cities however, law enforcement is often surprisingly lax. For example, in Huston 20,000 violent crimes with workable leads weren’t investigated in 2013. And as far as special privileges for none, that is not even being followed at all with all the government favors to the disadvantaged.
How is the government doing at assisting the disadvantaged? If the government was doing a good job at helping the disadvantaged, then certain groups of people (eg: black Americans, single mothers, and the poor) would be prospering, but they aren’t. The people who say they are helping the disadvantaged also say that they deserve special privileges as well. This results in a transfer of money from the people to the government, then a much smaller transfer of money from the government to the disadvantaged. In this way the disadvantaged get small handouts and those helping them get rich.
The founders did believe that welfare was very important but it was much different from the welfare of today. Back then local government provided minimal help for hard times, often in the form of workhouses. Government welfare was only given to those who didn’t get help form friends, family, churches, or private charities.
There has been a huge shift in the purpose of government and our priorities as a nation since our founding. That shift in mentality is a big part of the reason public policy has changed so much.