Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Social Security is a scam

 Ever heard of a Ponzi-scheme? Charles Ponzi was a man from New England who convinced thousands of locals to invest in a postage stamp pyramid scheme. He took investments and promised huge returns. He made a million dollars in a few hours from initial investors. The idea was that he could pay those returns by using the cash from future investors, whose returns could be paid by yet newer investors. You know..... the good old "rob-Peter-to-pay-Paul" stuff. Eventually, there are no new investors, and the people at the end of the investment chain get screwed. But who cares, since Ponzi had already made off with all that money. The SEC says it's quite illegal, nowadays. The Social Security system is a giant Pozi scheme. It takes from you now, promising you a big return later. In the meantime, it uses your investment to pay off old return promises that have come due. 
 Today, we can see the coming collapse of Social Security. We can predict the point where new investors will stop coming in, or at least the dues will be far higher than the collections. But who cares if you're FDR? You've already made off with your fame and supposed service to the needy retirees, and screw the people at the end of the chain.
 It's sad to me that people still insist today on pretending Social Security is something other than this. "Reform!! It just needs reform!!" What is needs is for it to be thrown back under the rock that it came from, and it's authors need to be called out for they really are. The same as Ponzi was. A cheat. As long as we pretend we can save the system from the fallout, we doom ourselves to invest in the same false trap of future pay-off. We're still buying stamps -- even though Ponzi has been exposed.
 Oh, and while we're on the topic.... how did the government get authority to do this whole thing again?? I didn't remember an amendment about this....

Free-Market means free individual

 I know a few people who are not "real big proponents" (to say the least) of the free market system. "Capitalism is just an unfair system where the rich exploit the poor" they say. As far as I'm concerned, this is about as true as saying "socialism is just an unfair system where the lazy exploit the hard-working." Both arguments are straw man arguments. Capitalism is not the exploitation of the poor, although that tragically has occurred before. The same is true for socialism. Lazy exploiting the hard-working is a loophole within the system, not the system itself.
 I am a clear proponent of the free-market system. I mean, CLEAR PROPONENT. Against minimum wage. Against anti-trust laws. Against unions. Against OSHA. Against permitting and liscence offices. Like I said, clear proponent.
 I understand the objection, however, that the rich seem to get richer and the poor seem to get poorer. This does seem, at times, to feel like it's the case. It's a myth, however, to say that the socialist system accomplishes national wealth. A look at history will demonstrate that that has never once occurred. Why people believe "the next time will be different" is lost on me, and I fear I will not come to understand it anytime soon. Even local and recent examples can show us this. Many of the poorest states in America are ardently modern liberal/democrat, and yet have remain every bit as poor as when they starting hoping liberalism could change things.
 I must admit that capitalists do not do a very good job at explaining how capitalism is the ladder out of poverty, instead of the pit that keeps them stuck. One of the great things about capitalism is that innovation is always available to you, and your hard work to accomplish it will be rewarded in the capitalist system. Hard work, sacrifice, and innovation pay off in a free market. Not so, in a social welfare system.
 But my commitment to free market is not essentially about reward for hard work. It's about personal liberty. The free market allows you to do things your way. You do not need the government to tell you how a business should be run, nor do you need the government to tell you which business you need to work in. In a free market, an individual has the right to self-govern his work, and he has the right to self-govern his purchases. This, I believe, is most in keeping with our constitution, and most in keeping with the beliefs of our founding fathers.
 And, by the way, when did the people surrender the right to regulate business to the government? I don't remember any amendments that granted those powers to the government..... perhaps they just took them from us without asking.

Faith and Politics

 I'm not really a Rick Warren buff or anything. I didn't read "Purpose-Driven Life" -- can't say that I intend to either. But he did say something in that Presidential interview forum recently that was intelligent. "We believe in the separation of church and state, but not religion and politics." These distinctions are important, and he is quite correct about them. 
 A friend of mine was a political science major when he went through college. He recalled to me a conversation in class after George W. Bush was re-elected in 2004, shocking most liberals around the globe. People were talking about how the "religion vote" helped Bush gain his re-election -- some were quite upset by this -- and how foolish they felt people were to vote based upon religion. One man even said that votes based on religion shouldn't count, because of the separation of church and state. And, I suppose, that in this country of free speech, I will support people's right to say and believe things like this, even if the ideas are dumber than the night is dark.
 But Rick Warren was quite right to make a distinction between "church and state" and "religion and politics." There is quite a large difference between the two. "Separation of church and state" refers to a divide between the public law to which people are bound under penalty to follow, and necessarily religious dogma set up by instituted moral authority, or those essentially acting as one. It's a divide that protects people's ability to exercise their own religion in the way that they see fit, within the bounds of not interfering with other people's rights. This does not mean that religious perspective and understanding must be absent from political activity. 
 Webster's Dictionary, under it's second definition of the word "Religion" states : "a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices" Hardly something that can be removed from one's entire approach to politics. Really, if that man in college had been honest with himself, he would have his own religious beliefs to bring to the table with him, even if it consists entirely of a belief that religion is useless (which would be an attitude, belief and practice of a question that is necessarily religious in nature). Religion, in this sense, is nothing more than a part of the understanding that shapes a person's view of what is important, and how he is to interact with the world around him. In this sense, it is impossible to separate one's religion from one's politics as much as it would be impossible to separate one's self-identity, or one's view of good and bad from his politics.
 In fact, saying separation of church and state means separation of religion and politics is quite a large amount of hypocrisy. Religion, in it's broadest sense, is unavoidable. People who claim to be "without religion" are not really without it at all. Everyone believes something about the ideas of God, good and evil, faith, and truth. These questions are unavoidably religious. To say that God exists is not somehow "more religious" than to say that he does not. To say that "good and evil" are relative as opposed to clearly defined objectively does not change the fact that in order to answer the question, one must, by simple nature, involve one's self in a strictly religious belief. Same as the fact that saying two plus two is four is not somehow "more mathematic" than saying two plus two in not five. 
 And so, to say that the church and the state must be separated actually protects one's right to mix religion with politics. To say that religion must be absent from one's political approach is to really say that one must act politically as an atheist -- and atheism is necessarily a religious perspective.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Second Amendment

 All the time, you can say "Second Amendment" and get immediate response from people. Some proud and some angry, of course. But it really has become a major issue in today's voting booth. People protest for and against, people argue and make outrageous statements, and people despise their political opponents on few issues more than on this one.
 It's a big deal. Some people feel threatened by guns. Guns, for some, immediately bring to mind feelings of violence, fear, and danger. To them, guns are things that kill people. Nothing else. Others see guns like others see their old dog. It's been with them for years, right by their side during some of their finest memories. It makes them feel relaxed, safe, and comfortable. With perspectives this different, it's no large wonder that people don't all agree.
 The Second Amendment itself reads "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the People to keep and bear Arms, may not be infringed." While we argue about whether this applies to the individual person having a right to keep and bear arms (the position of gun-rights advocates) or only to the State Militia aka The National Guard (the position of gun-control advocates), the Supreme Court has just issued a controversial ruling pointing towards the former. I think we should note that there is more here in this Amendment than this, and I think that some time spent remembering the context of this sentence can lend some understanding to us.
 You must remember, first, that owning guns was an everyday reality for virtually everyone at the time the amendment was written. The idea that a hunting rifle could be banned would have been as outrageous as banning cars today. It was some people's means of food and money -- and I don't mean shootists, I mean hunting. In fact, the right of an individual to own a firearm existed before this amendment as part of British common law. The individual's right to keep and bear arms was essentially assumed here (and remember, the Constitution was intended to lay out the bounds of government rights, not the people's rights). 
 Second, you must remember that the idea of a standing federal army was not a reality at the time. Armies held during times of peace was actually one of the complaints in the Declaration of Independence. Standing armies were State militias comprised of state residents, not Federal armies. The Articles of Confederation (the documents that held the 13 original states together as a unit after the Declaration of Independence, but before the Constitution was signed into law) created the Continental Army in order to fight the British for freedom, but this viewed as temporary, and when the Second Amendment was written, whether to maintain this Federal army was the subject of hot debate. The Second Amendment was largely a concession or a compromise toward those who disapproved of a standing Federal army, as a way to guarantee that the Federal army could never take away a state's sovereignty. "The state always had the right to maintain its own standing militia in case it had to hold off the federal government" was the essential message.
 As Patrick Henry said, "Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect every one who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined...." This is the attitude of the Second Amendment. The People have the right to maintain the ability to keep the Federal government in check against tyranny. The right to own weapons privately is assumed in this, as is the right to self-defense (another item already a part of British common law before the Constitution was drafted). Early commentary on the amendment confirms this view. The Boston Journal of the Times printed in 1769, commenting on the British Bill of Rights and the King's attempt to disarm the colonists, that "It is a natural right which the people have reserved to themselves, confirmed by the Bill of Rights, to keep arms for their own defence." The right to own a gun was viewed as a NATURAL RIGHT. One of the self-evident, unalienable rights that the people had, and commissioned government to protect. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Issue of Abortion (part II)

Like I said in my previous post, this issue needs two different conversations about two very different kinds of abortion. One about early abortions, where the baby is completely undeveloped, and another about later term abortions, past about 15 weeks, where the baby has developed into everything that humans are. Today, I will adress the second of these two issues.
Two things must be conceded at the very beginning of the conversation. One is that regulating the procedures and medical care on someone's body is, indeed, invasive. Imagine how rediculous the idea would be if a baby was not involved. Telling someone, for instance, they may or may not be allowed to have a tooth pulled, or have some particular surgury. We would all be agreeing that this was both an invasion of privacy and an overstepping of enumerated power (remember the limited gov't post). The second thing is that the "right to privacy," the 'implicit right' that Roe vs. Wade was based upon, is NOT a bogus idea. The Constitution doesn't even pretend to spell out our rights. It spells out the government's rights. If you regularly say "Hey, the Constitution doesn't even give a right to privacy in the first place!" then you need to go and read the 9th amendment.
The reason having a conversation about lawful invasion of privacy is appropriate is because other rights are involved here. A living human baby is also part of the abortion question and, because of this, other people's rights are also in question. I understand this is where most of seem to disagree. But go and take a look at an ultrasound of a 20 week baby. Ask an OB-GYN whether a 18 week baby is really a baby. I understand you can make an objection about religion, but this is really only true for a brief time in the first term. Beyond this point, as Roe vs. Wade implied in their decision to NOT mandate 2nd and 3rd term abortions, we have a completely different set of arguments and reasoning. Even the law can recognize this when people are charged with double-murder because they kill a pregnant woman.
Many of the objections about making abortions outright illegal are early-term objections also. "What if a woman gets raped and then gets pregnant?" or "What if a parent is the father?" of even "What if we can't take care of a baby?" All of these objections are first term issues. Not a single one of them has a good reason why a second or third term abortion would be necessary.
You see, even if people are completely deviod of any religious understanding of a soul and have a "reasonable cause" to consider an abortion, even then we can see that waiting until a baby has developed into, indistputably, a human baby is both unnecesarry and cruel. Why is it that those who support the idea of an abortion want an abortion anytime? Why not, abortions in the first, say, 10 weeks and then after that, let's have the mother abandon maternal rights, the state remove the baby as soon as the baby could live on its own, and allow a couple who has been working for years to get pregnant have a chance to adopt the baby while it is still an infant? Why would abortion rights advocates not want something like this?
The reason is because they don't want what's best for the baby, like they say. They want it dead. There is a big difference between saying "we want what's best for both the mother and the baby" and saying "we want to be able to kill the baby and pretend it never happened." This is what 2nd and 3rd term abortions are really about. People want to "not be a mother." But they already ARE mothers. People don't want a baby. But the HAVE a baby. They don't want to not have to take care of it - they want it dead.
This is why this conversation needs to be split up. You may be able to reasonably argue that you want what is best for a child who was raped three days ago when you give her a "morning-after" pill, but to say this about a 26-week mother? This is ridiculous. There no other reason for allowing a 2nd and 3rd term abortion than to prefer a dead baby to an adopted baby. While you may not want a human baby inside of you, at 19 weeks, it is an objective, scientific reality.
While we must mingle religion with law, difficult situations, and discernment in first term abortions, this is not true at all for later term abortions. At that point, it has clearly become human. And at that point, -- "created human" -- it has attained certain unalienable rights. Like the Right to Life. And the government, after all, exists to protect exactly these rights.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Issue of Abortion (part I)

This is a tough issue to talk about. The truth is, very few people actually talk about it. Most people get angry and yell. Understandably, both sides of the abortion issue feel very strongly about their position and have a hard time even considering the arguments of the other side. As a friend of mine said recently, "It has been the most divisive issue since the Civil rights movement." In many ways, he's right.
The problem with this is that people argue at the expense of talking. Very few issues of disagreement get worked out by angry yelling, and we've been yelling for a long time now. It doesn't really seem like we're about to stop, either, regardless of any changes in the law. We are in desperate need of level-headed, honest, humble communication. The laws may change back and forth, but the practical values of America will not become agreed without it.
Now, I am a libertarian and I realize that the official Libertarian Party's position on this issue is pro-choice - but I am not. Frankly, this is not because I feel my religion trumps my political policy. I have addressed this issue in another post, and as difficult as it is to say sometimes, I do not feel any differently on this topic. Legislating religion is dangerous, even if it happens to be my own. People have the right to be free thinkers, and exercise their religion (or lack thereof) as freely as I do. 
The role of government is not to regulate "approved thought" or even behaviour, but to protect and secure the rights of the people. This is just as true when the consequences are devastatingly heart-breaking as it is when they are overwhelmingly joyful. But the issue of aborting children and women's right to private control over her own body, I think, needs to be addressed in two separate conversations. Today, I will address neither directly, but the issue as a whole.
Actually, the ruling of Roe vs. Wade implies that there are 2 different conversations to be had about abortion. Roe vs. Wade did not legalize abortion. I think we should remember this. Abortion was legal before Roe vs. Wade, and if Roe vs. Wade was overturned tomorrow, it would still be legal. Roe vs. Wade mandated that a state may not prevent the option of a first term abortion, which is much different. It was intended to be a compromise between people who felt abortion should be legal right up until birth, and people who felt abortion abortion should be regulated from the moment of conception. The decision was that during the first term, the only argument that a fetus had human rights because it was a human was religious, and therefore, not lawful to regulate. It implied that there was potentially an argument to be made for post-first term babies. An implication largely ignored today, despite science reinforcing this implication. Talking about whether a 3-day concieved baby is a human is a quite different conversation than a 3-month conceived baby. A 20-week baby has, not only arms and legs, but eyelashes, fingernails, and gets hic-ups. Apart from a religious understanding of a soul (and I understand that for a religious person like myself, this is very hard if not impossible to ignore), a 3-day conceived baby is much different. While I am hardly comfortable at admitting this, it is true, I think, that these two situations need to be talked about separately. One involves figuring how to blend religion and law, which is a tricky business. The other involves simple common sense and some honesty.
Really, the issue is not Roe vs. Wade, but abortion itself. And on the topic of abortion, why am I, a libertarian, pro-life and not pro-choice? If I believe that the government exists to protect the rights of the people and not to regulate their behaviour, and religion provides no exception, how can I remain pro-life? Well, the answer is simple. Remember the Declaration of Independence? It laid out that there are self-evident rights that the government is instituted to protect. It gave three examples, which it clarified to not be comprehensive, and they are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Stepping in and protecting the right to life IS EXACTLY the role of government. One individuals rights can never trump another's. How can we say that one individual's implied right to privacy overrules another's explicit right to life? I cannot! That is why I am pro-life, and not pro-choice. Remember that the Declaration of Independence grants that all men are created (not "all men live" or even "all men are born") equal. The instant of individual rights does not begin with born, but with man. Being a human. And, like I said before, when exactly this happens is best addressed in two conversations, both of which I will have later.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Why I am against the minimum wage

I heard that some Senators were supporting raising the Federal Minimum wage to $10 an hour. I laughed when I heard the idea. The truth is, not only do I not support raising the minimum wage, I don't support the concept of the minimum wage. I think that, since nobody can force you to take a job, you should work to find a job that pays you what you believe to be fair, or else work to make yourself worth what you feel you need. I understand that you may object and say "If we don't force business to pay fairly, they never will," but the truth is, that thinking doesn't work. Here's an example of why the minimum wage doesn't work:

Let's say Joe owns a newspaper company. He produces hand-delivered local newspapers that he sells for 50 cents each. He finds 8,000 customers that buy his paper every day, which provides $4,000 in daily income. Now, let's say that Joe spends $1,000 a day on fees to the reporters and journalists who write the stories, comics, and whatever else. He also spends $1,000 a day on rent for his building, paper, ink and computers -- everything he needs to create, print, and package the papers. So Joe now has $2,000 worth of profit left and 8,000 papers that need to get from his building to each customer's door.
Joe decides to hire 10 guys to deliver his papers. He pays them $10 (let's say this is minimum wage) an hour to deliver 800 papers each over 8 hours (10 guys times 800 papers = 8000 papers). This costs him $800 (10 guys @ $10 per hours x 8 hours = 10 x 10 x 8 = 800). So Joe now has paid $1,000 on writers costs, $1,000 on building and supply costs, and $800 on delivery costs, leaving him with $1200 profit each day. Joe is making a good living. ($1200 a day times 365 days = $438,000 a year)
Now, these 10 delivery guys hear how much Joe is making and feel cheated. By the time they pay $1 for bread and $2 for milk, pay their $400 rent, and buy their $0.50 paper, they don't have any money left! They petition to raise minimum wage. Now Joe has to pay $15 per hour instead of $10. Joe does the math and realizes that now his delivery costs are $1200 instead of $800. This means that Joe only makes $800 a day instead of $1200. Joe is not happy, because just got a 30% pay cut, thanks to the rise in minimum wage. 
Joe decides to raise the price of his papers to 75 cents to pay the costs. Bread goes up to $2, Milk to $4, and rent to $600. The ten men are right back in the same situation. They can barely afford the same stuff. In other words, inflation. If we refuse to allow Joe to raise his price, then he walks into work and calls the 10 delivery guys. He promptly fires guys 7, 8, 9, and 10. He then tells guys 1-6 they now have to deliver the 1300 papers instead of 800. If they refuse, he fires them and rehires one of the guys 7-10, because they'll do whatever they need to get a job. In other words, unemployment. The only way to stop this is to fix prices, raise wages, AND guarantee jobs. This is a total destruction of free enterprise. In the end, Joe will make his profit, and his delivery guys will not make enough money to make an easy living. What should have happened is that the delivery guys who wanted more money should have found a skill worth more money and gotten a better job.

You see, minimum wage never fixes the problem. People who make the bottom income bracket will never make enough to earn an easy living. The solution to making enough money to earn a good living is to work and make yourself worth more than the bottom income bracket. This sounds cruel, but it's really not. In a system of free enterprise, hard work is the ladder out of poverty. Free enterprise always gives you the opportunity to go out and make your own money however you see fit. If some guy is charging too much for something, go into business and make a cheaper one. If you can make a better product than someone else, go out and work to be the best in the market. Find a skill that companies will pay you for. The problem is not the evil big businesses. The problem is that some people would rather make a law than work harder than they think they should have to. America is full of rags to riches stories. The one thing you'll find they all have, is someone who went out and worked hard for it.

A Marriage Amendment

People have begun to voice support for a Constitutional amendment on the issue of marraige. I must say that while I am a Christian and believe that marriage is a sacred union between one man and one woman, this is a terrible idea. Why the government has any business defining who can and can't get married is beyond me.
The government currently, however, is taking a blatantly double-standard position on the issue. They say it is wrong for them to discriminate who can and can't be married based on sex. But they have been regulating it based on number for a long time. Since when did I need the government's permission to get married? And remember, if the right to regulate marriage is not granted to the government in the Constitution, doesn't the 10th amendment say that it is either a state or personal issue? How did they get in the business of sneaking into issues not theirs to involve themselves in?
I think that the best way to handle who is married is to handle it the way we handle who is friends. It's up to you, not to the government. I don't think this means that I'm "profaning the sacredness of marriage" at all. I think that it means that it is an issue of private community, not public law. If two people co-habitate and want to say "We're married," I still know what marriage is. And if it's not marriage, I can sorrowfully appeal, or just pray for them. But to regulate it through law is dangerous. After all, if we regulate it based on sex, why not race or class? As with many issues, you must remember that if you work in practice and surrender your principle, the worst possible pratice is right around the corner. Are we really ready for the worst? I don't think so.
I think, frankly, that most of the desire to make marriage legally defined is simply a way to use law as I "I told you I was right and you were full of it" attitude that is neither helpful not healthy. If legal unions are already able to be established by any two people (which they can be), then why would we need a legal recognition of the term "marraige"

Seperation of Church and State

I am a Christian. I suppose I should say that up front. I am and have been an essentially reformed evangelical christian for a long time. Understandably, one of the issues that is constantly coming up for me is the separation of church and state. It has been the excuse of immoral men for immoral behaviour, and the topic of a godly man's grateful prayer before free exercise of worship. It's and issue that is as old in American politics as America itself.
The issue is an issue for which knowledge of history is helpful. Religion has, when mixed with politics, had dynamic effect on the world around it almost every time it is mixed. Some good results, some bad. People often take their right to think as an individual very seriously, even if they never take what it is they actually think with any seriousness at all. The hard things about allowing people to think whatever they want is that the right to believe what you want is necessarily the right to be wrong. It protects the careful thinker who crafts his beliefs about God and the world around him with meticulous care, and ends up with something beautiful and admirable. But it also protects people who think horrible and evil things.
When this country was founded, many of the people here in the States were here to find freedom from a government controlled religion. People were being burned at the stake for their beliefs about baptism and heaven. They worshipped the same God and believed almost the same things. In the government's mind, they were helping people believe what was right. But the right to individual thought, the right be be free in what you believe, is one of those inherent, or "self-evident," rights that the government does not have the right to trample.
This is always hard when you realize that this means that a Christian like myself must stand by and watch people practice evils and immorality under the protection of "seperation of church and state." Some object that to put freedom of religion forward at this kind of cost is asking for religious beliefs to be put aside for political beliefs. Isn't this asking for me to swear allegiance first to the government and then to my religion? No, not at all. 
When you are dealing with the costs of inherent rights being retained by the people instead of surrendered to the government, which is what dictating and regulating behaviour on a purely moral ground is, you must think in principle and not application, and this is why I say no. If we allow the government to dictate moral issues, what happens when Wiccans become the majority of the voting block? Will we stand and say that it would be right for the them to force Wiccan bahaviour on Christians? No! We would stand and cry "Religious Freedom!" Are we about to reset the direction of the country towards burning at the stake everyone who does not hold the same religious beliefs as us? Of course not. We all agree this is wrong. But you see, saying "I know this is a religious issue, but my religion comes first." is this exactly. It is refusing someone the right to be wrong. So unless we are willing to have a contest between the Baptists and the Anglicans about which will be burned at the stake, we must uphold the freedom of religion, and realize that the right that we mourn for allowing what we believe to be immoral behaviour is the same right that we celebrate when we worship freely without government persecution.

The Limits of Government

So, If I say the purpose of government is to secure the rights of the people (as the Declaration of Independence says), what then is the scope of government. What do people mean by limited government or small government? This is a question for the U.S. Constitution. 
Some people have used the Constitution as an excuse for government expansion. The Preamble says that "We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and Secure the blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity...." This has been used by many as guidelines for the purpose of and scope of government. This, however, is not what the Constitution is saying. Government is not supposed to promote the general welfare, for instance. Rather, in order to promote general welfare, the Constitution lays down the rules of government. Do you see the difference?
The Limits of government are laid out in the 10th Amendment (a favorite of a libertarian friend of mine)."The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people." In other words, the scope of the US government is limited to the scope specifically laid out in the Constitution. Many people talk about "The constitution doesn't grant you that right!" but this is totally backwards. If the Constitution does not grant government the ability to get involved, then it is they who do not have rights on issues the Constitution is silent on. The purpose of Amendments are to add to the powers of the Federal government, or to add clarity to the relationship of the states with each other and their people. So by "limited government", I don't mean that I want a government as small as possible. I mean I want a government limited to the bounds the Constitution grants it.

(More about this can be found at my friend Joel's blog, at -- a great Libertarian blog that predates mine)

The Purpose of Government

Its funny how often people forget the reason they have something, or the reason they do something. It's like traveling to a location, and then forgetting where you are going on the road. You inevitably begin to wander around. Without a destination, you are bound to get lost. What's the purpose of government? Its sad how rarely we ask ourselves this important question. After all, how can we steer the government with our vote if we are not sure what direction we want it to go? How can we know if it has made a wrong turn?
Particular policies is not what I mean here. I know that foreign policy is important to people, or taxes, or the environment..... but these are waypoints, not destinations. At least not in the way I mean the question. I don't mean, "What ought the government be doing?" -- I mean why is it there? What is it for?
Many men have come up with many answers to this question. Some have thought of government like a service buisness. Someone to be responsible for the services we cannot provide ourselves. Like the post office, or building roads. Others have thought of the government as a good neighbor. Someone who will watch out for you. Someone who will help you out, and know what you need. Maybe help you find a job, and help you pay your bills until you find one. Others see government as an instrument for personal gain -- maybe like a fat government contract for your business. Or even a way to make sure that football games are on free television. So, what would you say?
I think, and have thought for a while now, that I'll pick the answer that the Declaration of Independence gives. Government exists to secure and protect the rights of its people. If its been a while since you've read it, you should go back and read it again. Here's the first two paragraphs, which clearly answers that question of governments purpose:

"When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have them connected with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the seperation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed......"

The American Government was established on the belief that all men are equal and posses certain rights that are theirs without condition by nature, and that government is established by people to protect, or "secure" these rights. These individual rights are not moral rights, nor are they cultural rights, but inherent ones. The purpose of government is to protect them.