Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Role of Government

OrleansGuy writes:

1) for a populace to govern itself and monitor its institutions, would it not be necessary for a diversity of information to be able to flow freely in such a society? As such, why would we cry outrage when the public health officer proposes a campaign to inform us about the health effects of some of our consumer products? We can take this opinion, the opinion coming from Coke's marketing department, and other information and make up our own minds. To me, that's freedom.

2) We do not retain, as individuals, power of coercion. We give it to the state who enforces and punishes. You nor I can legally demand retribution, arrest a citizen, and incarcerate them without the blessing of the state. I can't force you to give me money without a judge. I can't arrest you and place you in my basement for 10 years without being charged with kidnapping and forcible confinement. We do not retain any of these power. Instead, we cede them to the state and they enjoy full authority over them.

3) Our culture changes over time. If we as a society are comfortable and endorse the powers of the state, then it is both just and moral. This is why we are continuously challenging as well as reasserting our support for certain state powers. Just because some disagree with it does not make it any less legitimate. If a majority disagree, then yes. But that's part of the changing and evolving nature of our culture.
To respond:

1) I don't consider the question to be valid because I don't think there should be any "public health officers". I think a lack of government regulations, i.e, freedom, restores moral hazard to businesses and it cultivates responsibility in consumers.

2) We never possessed the "power of coersion" in the sense you mean. We have the capacity for coersion, but that is a dead end, because eventually individuals would run out of productive people to loot from. There would be nothing to take, no values to exploit, it is literally suicide. Only productivity keeps us alive.

We don't possess any right to coerce others because it is, philosophically speaking, the annihilation of all values. if we are to live, life requries a recognition of man's nature as a productive being, not a predatory being, like a lion. Unlike other animals, we have to differentiate between the intiation of force and retaliatory force.

If we were to say someone could not defend themselves from a murderer, who does this empower and who does this destroy? What kind of incentives do those kinds of rules offer a society? To be peaceful, or to be plunderous?

The reason we cannot demand retribution is because, if we are to live together, there would be no way to demonstrate to others who is initiating force and who is defending themselves. Others would not know if who remained was the threat or the victim. If someone fires a gun at me out in public, I am not in the wrong for assaulting him. But once the emergency subsides, what is to happen? We return to civilization and the rule of law.

You have to forget this idea of "government being given power". That is not how a proper government arises. Government arises out of the need to manage force if people are to live and trade together. We need "something" to have that function. We use the term "government", but the concept of a government, fundamentally is what you ought to be thinking about, not about what shitty middle-of-the-road, hands-in-everything governments the world happens to have currently.

3) "If we as a society are comfortable and endorse the powers of the state, then it is both just and moral."

This is truth via consensus. This is unlimited mob rule, otherwise called democracy. Ever wonder how Socrates felt, sitting in his cell? Would you say it was moral to compell him to kill himself just for asking questions, simply because everyone agreed it was okay? That was thousands of years ago and people still haven't learned this lesson. Hell, Hitler got around 40% of the vote among 4 candidates.

No one gets to manufacture what is moral and government's role is not to enforce anyone's moral opinion, it is to protect individual rights. Our task is to discover how to live, not to pretend that conciousness can mold reality to whatever whims. Reality does not comply with whims, it can only be shaped by having first been understood. Our own nature determines what is moral, and we can only survive and flourish under certain conditions. Just as we can't breathe in space, we can't survive under every form of governance. However much a culture changes, reality doesn't. Particular acts will always have (often predictable) corresponding logical consequences.

Even consent does not determine morality. Consent determines legality. One can consent to be injected with a decadose of heroin, but that is something that is objectively bad for one's life, whether the person wants that hit or not.

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