Posted by: paulbassler | February 11, 2013

Benevolent Government or Rugged Individualism

Aside from the war on terror, the United States Government is at war with itself. At stake is the course and security of America. In what is commonly known as the “left,” or “liberal” governance philosophy, it is said that we the people need a big benevolent government that uses the power of the collective to “take care” of the populace. Those in this camp of thinking believe that people need to be protected from the rich and powerful and government is in the unique position to “even the playing field,” “distribute the country’s wealth,” and guide people in their search for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Those on the “right,” or “conservatives,” believe in rugged individualism. They believe is a small central government, with more governance provided at the state level. They believe in the American dream, where the harder you work, the better your lifestyle can be. Conservatives don’t believe in punishing the rich and successful as these entrepreneurs are responsible for creating new business, growing the economy and giving more opportunities to others seeking their own American dream.
Historically, America has been like a big ship at sea, moving to the left at times, then to the right. When conservative economic policies rule the day and the economy grows, liberal leaders tend to use the surplus funds to create new social programs. When the liberal policies are leading government policy and the economy begins to weaken, conservatives fight back by moving to reduce government control, reduce taxes and stimulate the economy.
One of the problems with liberal governance is that even with the best intentions, government is not always benevolent. Take the Social Security program as an example. The idea that the government will take some of the money we earn each month and hold it for us until we reach retirement age is, in its face, a good idea. Unfortunately, our leaders over the years have spent the money they were supposed to hold on our behalf and the Social Security funds are gone. Today, the money taken in from people in the workforce is being used to pay those who have reached retirement and are due their payments. Even more troubling, there isn’t enough money coming in to pay the government’s obligation, threatening the programs viability in the future. The same is true of the Medicare program, which is also in deficit.
There does seem to be a balance between these two governing philosophies. It’s the kind of balance all of us who have families and try to navigate our budgets throughout our lives try to strike. It’s a balance between what we would like versus what we can afford. Government programs funded by the power of the collective can be beneficial to the social health of our country. We are a stronger nation when we can help our elderly, our disabled and those who are unable to care for themselves. Whatever we can afford to do, we should do. Affordability, however, is the key. Social programs have to have the funds. That doesn’t mean the promise of funds, it means we have to have the money. Just as we as individuals have to have the money to pay for quality health services for our parents or grandparents, or pay for medical equipment for a handicapped child. There is so much we would all like to do for our families, neighbors and fellow countrymen, but we cannot do more than what we can afford.
Today, our country is weakened by decades of overspending and bad fiscal policies. This weakness lessens our ability to help ourselves, let alone to help others. Today’s battle at the highest levels of government is attempting to right the ship, bring us back to prosperity, give us the strength to do what our hearts urge us to do. Before we can help others, we have to help ourselves. We have to get out of debt, stop the deficit spending, stop using the people’s money to support special interests and learn to live within our means. That is what we have to do as individuals and that is what we have to do as a collective. Once we become fiscally healthy, we can turn to the debate about what can we do to help provide for health, safety and prosperity of our country.

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