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What is the purpose of government?
We humans are a social species. Our success as a species relies on the strength of the group, wherein the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
We each belong to many groups: Religious groups, neighborhood groups, family groups, and age groups. We group ourselves by numerous preferences, vocations and hobbies, by sex, by life-style and by wealth.
A group can be self-protective against enemies. The very mass of the group can discourage attack. A group also can benefit from a greater ability to find resources, like food, water and shelter, than can any one individual.
But not all groups have governments. Ungulates (hoofed animals like horses, cattle, pigs, etc.) tend to live in groups, but do not have a discernable government.
The closest most groups come to government is having a leader. But even here, it is rare to see the stratification (leader, sub-leaders, assistants, specializations) we normally associate with government.
Humans, more than any other species, invest an enormous amount of time and energy into creating and maintaining governments. From an evolutionary standpoint, anything that requires so great an investment, must provide important benefits. Else, it would have disappeared.
What then, are the benefits of our governments? Why do we invest so much time and energy to create systems that restrict our actions?
I ask this because I read today, a newspaper article written by syndicated writer Cal Thomas, who describes himself this way:
“Cal Thomas focuses on what promotes the general welfare, regardless of which party or ideology gets the credit.
“(His book), What Works, is about pressuring political leadership to forget about the next election and start focusing on the needs of the people who work hard to provide for themselves, send their tax dollars to Washington, and want to see the country achieve something of value … like it has always done.”
The newspaper article criticizes Democrats, Republicans, and Trump (of course). But the one sentence that struck me was:
“Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton feed into the entitlement mentality that the government exists to give you stuff and take care of you.“
We hear this often from the conservative side — that all the non-rich want is to be given “stuff” and to be “taken care of” — as though receiving those things from the government were a sin.
But, it’s a little jarring to hear it from a writer who wants our political leadership to “focus on the needs of the people.”
After all, what are the needs of the people, if not “stuff” and to be taken care of?
If you look at “Mitchell’s laws” (below) you see this:
Liberals think the purpose of government is to protect the poor and powerless from the rich and powerful. Conservatives think the purpose of government is to protect the rich and powerful from the poor and powerless.
Rich and poor, we all want to be taken care of by the government and from those who we believe would attack us. So why is Thomas negative about what Bernie and Hillary offer?
It has to do with his references to an “entitlement mentality” and “the needs of the people who work hard to provide for themselves.”
Clearly, he is referring to poor people, because as Thomas seems to believe, and as “everyone knows,” it’s the poor who have an entitlement mentality and who don’t work hard to provide for themselves — at least those are the myths the rich promulgate.
The rich say, by virtue of their wealth, they are entitled to better lives than the poor have, but apparently this is not to be considered an entitlement mentality.
The rich say they have earned their entitlements because of parental gifts (college education, inheritance, social connections) and desk-work, while the poor have not earned anything because they lack those parental gifts and do only manual labor.
And the rich, who have all the best “stuff,” partly paid for by creative tax breaks from the government, begrudge the poor any “stuff” coming from the government.
At the East Cooper Republican Women’s Club annual Shrimp Dinner, Jeb Bush said:
“Our message is one of hope and aspiration. “It isn’t one of division and get in line and we’ll take care of you with free stuff. Our message is one that is uplifting — that says you can achieve earned success.”
That is the message of the right wing: If you are rich, you have earned all the free stuff in the world, and you should be taken care of. If you are not rich, you do not deserve free stuff or being taken care of.
Conservatives believe reward should be allocated based on success, no matter how the success was achieved. Having received reward is prima facie evidence you should receive reward. Give more to those who have the most.
Liberals believe reward should be allocated based on need, no matter how the need was created. Give more to those who have the least.
What is your opinion? What is the purpose of government?
Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
Ten Steps to Prosperity:
1. Eliminate FICA (Click here)
2. Federally funded Medicare — parts A, B & D plus long term nursing care — for everyone (Click here)
3. Provide an Economic Bonus to every man, woman and child in America, and/or every state a per capita Economic Bonus. (Click here) Or institute a reverse income tax.
4. Free education (including post-grad) for everyone. Click here
5. Salary for attending school (Click here)
6. Eliminate corporate taxes (Click here)
7. Increase the standard income tax deduction annually Click here
8. Tax the very rich (.1%) more, with higher, progressive tax rates on all forms of income. (Click here)
9. Federal ownership of all banks (Click here and here)
10. Increase federal spending on the myriad initiatives that benefit America’s 99% (Click here)
The Ten Steps will grow the economy, and narrow the income/wealth/power Gap between the rich and you.
10 Steps to Economic Misery: (Click here:)
1. Maintain or increase the FICA tax..
2. Spread the myth Social Security, Medicare and the U.S. government are insolvent.
3. Cut federal employment in the military, post office, other federal agencies.
4. Broaden the income tax base so more lower income people will pay.
5. Cut financial assistance to the states.
6. Spread the myth federal taxes pay for federal spending.
7. Allow banks to trade for their own accounts; save them when their investments go sour.
8. Never prosecute any banker for criminal activity.
9. Nominate arch conservatives to the Supreme Court.
10. Reduce the federal deficit and debt
THE RECESSION CLOCK
Recessions begin an average of 2 years after the blue line first dips below zero. A common phenomenon is for the line briefly to dip below zero, then rise above zero, before falling dramatically below zero. There was a brief dip below zero in 2015, followed by another dip – the familiar pre-recession pattern.
Recessions are cured by a rising red line.
Vertical gray bars mark recessions.
As the federal deficit growth lines drop, we approach recession, which will be cured only when the growth lines rise. Increasing federal deficit growth (aka “stimulus”) is necessary for long-term economic growth.
•Those, who do not understand the differences between Monetary Sovereignty and monetary non-sovereignty, do not understand economics.
•Any monetarily NON-sovereign government — be it city, county, state or nation — that runs an ongoing trade deficit, eventually will run out of money.
•The more federal budgets are cut and taxes increased, the weaker an economy becomes..
•No nation can tax itself into prosperity, nor grow without money growth.
•Cutting federal deficits to grow the economy is like applying leeches to cure anemia.
•A growing economy requires a growing supply of money (GDP = Federal Spending + Non-federal Spending + Net Exports)
•Deficit spending grows the supply of money
•The limit to federal deficit spending is an inflation that cannot be cured with interest rate control.
•The limit to non-federal deficit spending is the ability to borrow.
•Liberals think the purpose of government is to protect the poor and powerless from the rich and powerful. Conservatives think the purpose of government is to protect the rich and powerful from the poor and powerless.
•The single most important problem in economics is the Gap between rich and the rest..
•Austerity is the government’s method for widening the Gap between rich and poor.
•Until the 99% understand the need for federal deficits, the upper 1% will rule.
•Everything in economics devolves to motive, and the motive is the Gap between the rich and the rest..