Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Proper Role of Government

I recently read this quote from James Madison's Federalist #51 on American Thinker in reference to the proper role of government:

"If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary."

I think most of us are well aware that our politicians aren't angels (although it seems that a few delusional people still think that the current president borders on superhuman). That's why it worries me that the government seems to be systematically growing its powers and authority. With Obama in the White House and liberal Democrats in positions of power in Congress there's been talk of a new "Fairness Doctrine" (mandating "fairness" and "balance" in political content on the radio), there have been intrusions by the government into the automotive and banking industries, the cap-and-trade bill has been introduced that would give the government extensive power over industry (all in an attempt to stop the fictional crisis of "man-made global warming"), and now there is the truly frightening attempt by government to further intrude into the healthcare industry. And don't try to convince me that the current healthcare bill isn't an attempt to gradually institute socialized medicine (a.k.a., single-payer healthcare). Congressman Barney Frank admitted on video that the "public option" plan inserted into the current bill is intended as a stepping stone to single-payer healthcare.

How is any of this a good idea? To what degree of cognitive dissonance does one have to suffer to think that it's a good idea to give government such control? Medicaid and Medicare are bankrupt and Social Security will be defunct in a couple of decades. Do you think that the government can manage health care? The Veteran's Administration proved itself incapable of running a decent hospital (remember the Walter Reed Army Medical Center scandal?).

We can consider ourselves lucky that, thus far, the government has been expanding its authority for "the public good". But once we've allowed the government to increase it's power to such a degree, what's to guarantee that it will continue to use it for benevolent purposes? How long does it take before a society devolves into something truly terrifying? Lenin, Stalin, Mao, and Hitler all promised to use their power for "the public good" and ended up killing millions of people that didn't quite agree with their definition.

Madison and the other Founding Fathers knew that we would never be governed by angels, that's why they instituted a system of limited government. Unfortunately, it looks like our generation has decided to tear down the system that has kept America safe, prosperous, and free for two centuries.


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