The Culture of Government

Within the posts on this page, you will routinely see a libertarian slant, because both Jeff and I are Libertarians. I personally make no apologies for this, since talk radio is inundated with conservative leaning hosts, and TV is inundated with liberals. So, this little slice of the ‘net is for the libertarians.

Libertarians generally want the liberty (hence the root of the word libertarian) to simply be and do, so long as it doesn’t cross that line of harming others. Simply put, we don’t want government telling us what to do. Our goal is simply a government that lets people be idiots if they want, and be self destructive if they want, but also allows them to be great.

But before our utopia can ever be realized, we must change the culture of government. That requires first starting with the people. Government will generally adhere to the demands of the people. Vietnam ended mostly because the will of the people was that it end. While there is still a great deal of oppression in this nation, it is still one where the government his beholden to the people.

People must understand several things, things which can not be stressed enough. Once enough understand it, they will join our cause and press for the changes we want. Then, the culture of government will shift forever.

1. From top down to bottom up

Currently, our government operates from a top down approach. The money flows from the federal government to state governments, then to local governments. Sure, each collects their own taxes, but the money supply maintains the flow of power in the same direction.

Instead, the government most involved in our day to day lives should be the local government. They are there for each day of our lives. Things like police and fire departments, sewers, things that can’t really be privatized (though other Libertarians may disagree, which is fine as well). Then, the state should have less impact on our day to day lives, they serve to fill the voids between towns maybe, or provide protection from a town or county becoming oppressive. The federal governments involvement should be minimal at best. Most should only rarely even think about the federal government. The United States Constitution outlines what the federal government can do. Let’s keep it there.

2. Freedoms are freedoms. An attack on one is an attack on all.

People must understand that they can not pick and choose their freedoms. An attack on any one freedom is, ultimately, an attack on all. A buddy of mine once quoted his pastor to me with the saying “No beer on Sundays means no guns on Mondays,” and he’s completely right. When a group of people decides to attack one freedom, one that they strongly dislike, then they may be opening the door on freedoms that they care about becoming the target of attack.

One example is how many members of religious groups choose to go after “sin” through legislation. Blue laws here in Georgia are just one example. Others are laws against prostitution that church groups oppose being lifted. Yet now many people are being required to act against their religions by the courts for various services, like a therapist who refused to council a lesbian woman having relationship issues. So now, even the right to practice one’s religious beliefs is under attack in this nation.

Others attack the right to carry a firearm, but now find other civil liberties under attack such as protection against unreasonable search and seizure via the PATRIOT Act. Is one the cause of the other? Absolutely not. But they are related in that inroads into one has made it easier, ultimately, to make inroads into the other. It creates a slippery slope that is best avoided.

3. Government is inept in most things

Ask yourself one question: Which house would you prefer living in, a HUD home, or a Habitat for Humanity home? The private sector routinely provides a better service than the government sector. Private charity often provides better assistance and more compassionate care for those in need than government can. The more the government stretches itself, the more it fails.

Once people understand this, the logical step is to demand that the government returns tax dollars to our pockets so we can contribute to those programs we most agree with. Free market economics will actually work in the non-profit sector just fine. If people refuse to donate to a program, then that program’s design has a clear flaw and it will die. Government can then focus on the few things they do quasi-well and we can support causes we agree with.

4. People have the power

In our representative republic, the single greatest power is that of the people. However, most don’t realize it. Sure, they know we elect people, but they forget that WE are the leaders, not them. They have forgotten it well. Remember Sanford Bishop’s comments reported by WALB (admittedly, not a direct quote) where he asked for us to trust that our leaders will be fiscally responsible?

The thing is, they aren’t our leaders, they are our representatives. WE THE PEOPLE are the leaders. They merely cast a vote on our behalf. It is their job to do our bidding, meaning that WE are the leaders-they are the followers. We must retake that position by voting out those who forget their place. And, if needs be, we can have one term representation in Congress until they get it right.

Conclusion

It is important to note that we do not need to all agree on everything for things to work well. The founding fathers didn’t agree on everything, so why should we? However, these four things must be clear in the hearts and minds of the voting populace before we have a shot. Ideas like being fiscally conservative or socially liberal just play into the idea of a purely right/left dichotomy. Instead, we must try and make clear why a libertarian society is ultimately best for everyone and what is necessary.

We must change the entire culture of government, but first we must change the entire culture. Only then can we regain our lost freedoms, and only then can we thrive as a nation.

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2 Responses

  1. GREAT post Tom.

    One of the things I found really great today was that the Libertarians of Georgia are practicing what you and I are preaching, and many of the ones I met today are doing as well:

    LOCAL control, even within the Party. As was said about something else today, I forget exactly what at the moment, how can we expect government to do something we as a Party will not? Indeed, the new Vice-Chair’s ‘stump’ speech just before voting on him was all about local affiliates and working to build them up

  2. Really though, that makes perfect sense. How is the state or national party/government going to know the needs of Southwest Georgia or L.A. or Central Iowa. Those local affiliates/governments will know those needs and those issues.

    I’m glad to hear the Libertarian Party of Georgia gets it. I hope the national party gets it at well, because there is no point in trying to change the culture of government unless the party can show it meets those needs.

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