Government means win or lose

Professor Williams takes on the question about whether government promotes Conflict or Cooperation? at Front Page Mag.

The idea is that people who are left to meet their own needs can coexist happily in an environment where there are many differing ideas about what needs to meet. When government gets into the act it decides what needs are appropriate and what are not – and that creates conflict.

the very people in our society who protest the loudest against human conflict and violence are the very ones calling for increased government resource allocation. These people fail to recognize or even wonder why our nation, with people of every race, ethnic group and religious group, has managed to live together relatively harmoniously. In their countries of origin, the same ethnic, racial and religious groups have been trying to slaughter one another for centuries. A good part of the answer is that in the United States, there was little to be gained from being a Frenchman, a German, a Jew, a Protestant or a Catholic. The reason it did not pay was because for most of our history, government played a small part in our lives. When there’s significant government allocation of resources, the most effective means of organizing for the gains are those proven most divisive, such as race, ethnicity, religion and region.

The current issue is, of course, health care. That one brings the idea of everyone providing a fair share to pay for it with that share being defined by the government. It is also feared that government will get involved in defining what is proper health care and what is not – what a citizen needs to be healthy. That means those who are deemed to not be paying their fair share or those who have other ideas about health will be in conflict with the government.

A previous issue is the one that knocked the financial markets silly. It is the idea that government should promote home ownership as the preferred means of housing no matter the financial ability of the citizen. The conflict there comes from those who had to front the money to pay for the housing.

The critical issue for government is to figure out just where the line should be. There are some things where the needs must be defined as these needs define the reason a government is allowed to exist. The struggle at present is that many seem to think that the “we know what’s good for you” ethos has gone a bit too far, created a bit too much conflict, and must be reigned in. Finding a way to resolve that problem without too much social cost will be difficult.

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