Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Government Versus My Government

Having a healthy fear of government is good. Most people on both sides of the aisle lack an appropriate level of skepticism toward their government. Still, there is a point where too much fear becomes fringe lunacy, and it is my opinion that someone like Ron Paul is past that point. The reason that Ron Paul is "fringe" while less moral politicians of both parties are "mainstream" is because the threat to one's life posed by too little government can often outweigh the threat to one's life of too much. That's why systems like feudalism existed, because people would rather live under an immoral government that protects their life from outside threats than a government that is afraid to infringe upon a few liberties and offers little to no protection as a result. So while there is a point where the absolute cost of too much government is too high, and revolution becomes the moral imperative, it is often safer to err on the side of more government than less up to a certain point. Someone calling for the end, at least on the federal level, of basically every government entity other than those explicitly in the constitution is on the wrong side of this point, which is why Ron Paul and libertarian politicians like him will never be voted into the presidency.

It is very common to hear people talk about "the government" as if it is an independent entity that they are fighting against, clawing with tooth and nail to inch out any civil liberty they can. To me, this is a huge misrepresentation of reality. There are two reasons why it seems intuitively obvious to me that the possessive "my government" or "our government" more clearly states what is actually going on. Reason number one is simple enough; we vote politicians into their jobs and can vote them out. Reason number two is slightly less so, although I already talked about it when I defined the purpose of government. Every day of our adult lives that we spend living in the United States; or almost any other country in the world today for that matter; is a day that we opted to not move to another country. We are passively choosing one government out of 100+ governments around the world that don't restrict emigration (without the freedom to leave, like in North Korea, there is obviously no choice to stay). Reading through my blog, you'll notice that when I refer to government, I will either use a possessive article or leave the article out entirely, and this is no accident.

I bring this up not to nit-pick semantics, but rather to illustrate that we, or people like us, created the American government, and likewise we can change it and deconstruct it as necessary. The slogan of this blog is "don't hate the player, change the game" because while you are entitled to judge a person's actions or a company's actions as immoral, it is not now nor has it ever been a given that we live in a world where everyone acts morally. This fear of immoral actors is exactly why we created government, to be monopoly on force that disincentivizes immoral action. So while I can judge a company or a person's actions as immoral, the fault really lies in the structure and policies of our government, which is supposed to protect us against immoral behavior if and when that behavior infringes upon our right to life. When that action does not infringe upon one's right to life, the fact that an action is immoral in and of itself is not sufficient to restrict it.
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  1. Have you tried to move to another country? I have. It ain't easy. If you don't have $$$, you'll probably just get shipped right back to wherever you came from. Emigration is the easy part; it's the immigration on the other end that's the problem. The nation-state game is rigged.

  2. I haven't, though I think that at some point I'll do a short term move. The immigration difficulty on the other end is certainly a wrinkle; why do you suppose most countries make it so difficult to move into them? You'd think that they would want the extra revenue.