Sunday, September 09, 2012

When Government Gets Out of Balance

I had a thought hit me the other day.  Have you ever seen that movie, I Robot?  The premise is simple, people built robots to make their lives easier.  As robots began to do more and more things, more and more people started using and, in some cases, depending on them.  The robots are controlled by a central computer that uploads updates, etc. to them.  Well, at a certain point, the central computer decides that humans are not capable of taking care of themselves and turns the robots from servants of humanity to their masters.  Now it's the robots who make the decisions, set the schedules and determine what's right and wrong - of course, it's all in the name of protecting humans from each other.  After all, if you're not allowed to make your own choices, there's no crime, no violence, no bickering ... no freedom.

So here we are with a modern government that has some of the same attributes as that central computer.  Government (at least in this country) was formed by the will of the people with the purpose of making life easier - you know, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty.  For over 200 years, our government has fulfilled its purpose and served the people of the United States.  However, I worry that there are those in government - some of our elected representatives even - who feel that we the people cannot take care of ourselves.  They feel that government needs to do more for us.  They don't feel this way because they want power (although I sure some of them do) but they earnestly desire to help people.  Unfortunately, the victim is the very essence of our liberty, personal responsibility.

We live in a free country.  Not free as in you can do whatever you want with no consequence, but free as in you make your own choices but are responsible for those choices.  One of the primary responsibilities of our government is to make a level playing field so that we can succeed or fail on the same terms as everybody else.  We have regulations and break up monopolies so that businesses don't have unfair advantages.  We have constitutional protections to make sure that government isn't oppressive.  That's the purpose of government, in my opinion, to give everybody the same opportunities for success - rich or poor, it doesn't matter; whatever situation of life, it doesn't matter - with hard work and a little luck, anybody can be successful.  That is what government is for.

Does it always work?  Of course not.  Things get out of balance.  Programs and policies suffer from unintended consequences.  People make mistakes.  That's life.  The question is, how do we get things back in balance?  People tend to go in one of two different directions:  One extreme says that government needs to exert more control, control more things, make more decisions, dig deeper in.  The other extreme says that government needs to pull out entirely, just turn and walk away.  I believe the answer lies somewhere in the middle.  Government is doing a balancing act.  Laws, regulations, programs, etc. are necessary to keep the playing field even.  However, too much government and we start to lose our liberty and run the risk of a big brother state.  Too little government, on the other hand, and we risk anarchy and chaos.  The answer lies in the middle: balance.  Enough regulation to keep the playing field even while having enough freedom to allow for huge success as well as huge failure.  Why both?  I submit that you cannot have success without risking failure.  Not only that, but many successes are built on failures and what was learned from them.

It should be government's responsibility to make things possible for everybody and it's our responsibility to take advantage of those possibilities.  We may not always succeed but we can always grow, and when we do succeed, we will have the satisfaction of knowing that it was our accomplishment.  We built this!

1 comment:

sara said...

Great post.