March 7th, 2008

Something Positive Regarding Government

A friend of mine, noting a successive string of my blog posts regarding “negative” things in government and politics, issued a challenge to me the other day. The challenge was that my next post be a positive one, detailing something positive about our government.

I told him that not only would I write a post about something positive, but that I would write two in a row.

So, I began to think. What things are the government doing well?

I thought a while. And then I thought some more. The sad reality was that I couldn’t come up with anything.

And so, I turned to Google. Searching for “what good things has the government done”, the first result was this website which states that due to the Bush administration bungling everything it does, more people are becoming politically active.

So there you have it. A positive thing the government has done is that it has caused (albeit indirectly, and as a result of its incompetence and moral bankruptcy) an increased number of people to become enlightened, aware, and motivated to reclaim liberty and make a difference. Without something revolting, there would be no revolution.

Now to think of the subject of my next post… Anybody have any proposals?

23 Responses to “Something Positive Regarding Government”

  1. Janet
    March 8, 2008 at 12:50 am #

    Yes! Read Senator Patty Murray’s March 7th talk about the dangers of outsourcing our military technology and respond in your awesome Captain Moroni manner. Here’s a link to the full text to her speech. I posted it on my blog: http://janetwalgren.wordpress.com/2008/03/07/dangers-of-outsourcing-military-technology/

    After that you could comment on the California court ruling that essentially requires all home schoolers to have teaching credentials in order to keep home schooling their children.

  2. Connor
    March 8, 2008 at 8:27 am #

    Janet,

    Regarding the homeschooling issue, it appears that the original news report was inaccurate, thus leading everybody else’s report and blog post to likewise be in error. This site seems to clarify things.

    Regarding the France outsourcing, after giving it much thought I feel it’s a mixed bag. On one hand, I very much am against foreign companies handling components of our national security. Relying on such companies to create the resources needed for and used by our military is certainly not a good idea. I’m fine with foreign competition of goods in the consumer arena, but not when national security is in play.

    On the other hand, I am definitely not in favor of simply handing the contract over to Boeing by default, which seems to be what some politicians would prefer. Boeing is a central component of the military industrial complex, and is deep, deep in the pockets of many key politicians. The letter you emailed me from Senator Murray shows indignation over the matter, and her desire to award the contract to Boeing to “[create] 44,000 new jobs here.”

    That, I think, is a poor solution. The contract should go to the company that can create the best product for the lowest cost. In the case of military supplies and technology, I do think that domestic producers should be exclusive in their ability to offer such a supply. Consumer goods are a different story. But Boeing has poorly managed the virtual border fence (among other projects), and I fully disagree with those politicians (that have Boeing employees as their constituents, obviously) that want the contract to go to Boeing.

    Sadly, neither of those things illustrate something positive about the government. The homeschooling fiasco is apparently a non-issue now, and I have my reservations about the France/Boeing situation. Oh, how we love government…

  3. RoAnn
    March 8, 2008 at 8:33 am #

    Well, I guess that when I compare how free and safe my daily life is as a married woman living in the United States, with what it was in some other countries I have lived in, I have to say that our government beats many others by far.

  4. Connor
    March 8, 2008 at 8:37 am #

    …our government beats many others by far.

    Comparatively speaking, absolutely. A point I made in a recent post, however, was that although our situation is better, that does not mean it is not degrading and heading in a similar direction.

    We have much to be thankful for, and what’s left of personal liberty and security do afford us many blessings and opportunities. But limited government is gone, civil liberties are all but largely eroded, and the general establishment is so mired in nearly every aspect of our lives, that taking a turn for the worse doesn’t seem to be that farfetched an idea these days.

    But I’ll absolutely agree with you that our current situation is better (far better) than many other countries. No doubt.

  5. David
    March 8, 2008 at 10:03 am #

    I think I would drop “enlightened” from your list. We have ample evidence that more people are aware and motivated, but it remains to be see if many of them have actually become enlightened (it’s just plain too soon to tell – I’m not trying to say that I have evidence against it).

  6. Jeff Thayne
    March 8, 2008 at 12:49 pm #

    Connor, that article seems to explain the three options for parents in California are 1) Public School, 2) Private School, 3) Credentialed Tutor.

    I just have a hard time believing that parents should be held accountable to the government for their children’s education, state or federal.

  7. Connor
    March 8, 2008 at 1:11 pm #

    David,

    We have ample evidence that more people are aware and motivated, but it remains to be see if many of them have actually become enlightened…

    Seeing fourteen-year-old kids talking about the Federal Reserve, our nation’s history of foreign intervention, the socialist aspects of the New Deal, and the principles enshrined in the Constitution (that we’ve abandoned) indicates an increased enlightenment to me. Much of this is attributed to Ron Paul’s spreading of the message and infusing presidential politics with just a glimpse of liberty. But it’s been enough for many people, I think, to become enlightened as to what’s going on.

    Jeff,

    I just have a hard time believing that parents should be held accountable to the government for their children’s education, state or federal.

    You won’t find anybody that agrees with you more than myself. To argue, as the judge did, that “Parents do not have a constitutional right to home school their children”, is patently absurd and a direct thread to individual liberty.

  8. John
    March 8, 2008 at 1:28 pm #

    Oh, and trying to find the silver lining in something bad… isn’t the same as finding something good. :)

    If our government isn’t doing anything well, why do you live here and fight for the things you do?

    Aside:
    I agree with the Airbus choice. How is it in our best interest to waste money, and what does national security have to do with who makes our equipment? Aren’t we buying this stuff because we’ve found it to be the best?

    Personally, I applaud the Air Force for making a decision with their heads. I see no reason to pick the second-best tools for the job when lives are on the line.

  9. Doc
    March 8, 2008 at 3:09 pm #

    How about just off the top of my head, we have a postal service that operates regardless of weather, cheaper than private parcel services, with very few mistakes. Public employees generally do their job without expecting a bribe. We pull off elections and transfer of office without riots, death, and violence, again a rarety. Eight years ago we did this peacefully in the face of a tie. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it. This is extremely rare in most the world. I think your imagination grows dim. Most revolutionaries in the history of the World think their government is horrible until it is replaced by something even worse. The American revolution is the glaring exception to this. Even France had a march to Democracy that became a violent tyranny of the people.

  10. Dan
    March 8, 2008 at 4:42 pm #

    Try driving on a freeway that was not supported by government money, your tax money.

    Try living in the world full of military dictatorships because you dismissed your civilian government that controlled the military power.

    There are numerous positive things about governance. I am really saddened (though not surprised) that you can’t think of anything positive about government.

  11. Jason
    March 8, 2008 at 5:01 pm #

    Yeah, sorry Connor but I agree with John, and the sentiments of Doc and Dan.

    Finding something good about the government does not mean find something that is working perfectly and has no flaws to wish were not present. The roads example is a perfect one in my opinion. Sure, we can complain that the interstates are not as wide as they could/should be, or that there are more potholes than we’d wish, or that we’d have more money for them if we weren’t throwing so much of it away in pointless wars of aggression. But even given all those things, it sure is nice that we can use them to get where we need to go. I don’t mean to say that our roads are the greatest thing since sliced bread, but I do think they provide a perfect analogy.

  12. Jeff Thayne
    March 8, 2008 at 5:31 pm #

    Connor,

    I agree that the judge’s statement is absurd and a threat to personal liberty. However, while the Federal government is given no moral authority to restrict homeschooling, I cannot find anything in the constitution that denies that authority to the states. I would have to argue it for moral reasons, not constitutional reasons, unless you can enlighten me.

  13. Kelly W.
    March 8, 2008 at 6:14 pm #

    I was listening to a podcast of Steven E. Jones a couple days ago, and he looked on the benefits of the false-flag operation of the controlled demolition of the 3 skyscrapers in the WTC.

    He said that enough people were being awakened to their awful situation of the end of the Cheney era, that America was about to enter a renaissance phase.

    I actually think he was covertly speaking of the Millenial reign, but couldn’t use those words on national radio.

    I admire his optimism that our current state of affairs in government could give way to a much brighter future, made possible by people awakening to the fragile state our Constitution and Bill of Rights are currently in.

  14. Connor
    March 8, 2008 at 10:02 pm #

    John,

    Oh, and trying to find the silver lining in something bad… isn’t the same as finding something good.

    Touché. My wife agrees. :)

    If our government isn’t doing anything well, why do you live here and fight for the things you do?

    Many reasons. First, life is better here than probably anywhere else, depending on your individual circumstances. Comparatively speaking, as RoAnn mentioned, life in America is good.

    Second, I believe in America. I believe in the principles she was born with, I believe in her divine role, her blessing and opportunity, and her future. I want to make sure she stays on track.

    Doc,

    How about just off the top of my head, we have a postal service that operates regardless of weather, cheaper than private parcel services, with very few mistakes.

    Like many other government enterprises, I believe the postal service would work far better in private hands.

    Public employees generally do their job without expecting a bribe.

    Yes, but many do poor jobs that waste taxpayer’s money; thus, the bribe takes a new form. I’ve had some experience working with state government and can attest to the poor skillset many workers have, the job security afforded by not firing people that didn’t cut it, and the lack of initiative to excel and innovate since they were unaccountable to people that would demand such progress.

    We pull off elections and transfer of office without riots, death, and violence, again a rarety.

    And yet we have Diebold.

    I think your imagination grows dim.

    I sure hope not. I imagine a world where the rule of law is obeyed; where morality permeates society voluntarily; where individual liberty is respected, and sovereignty recognized; where families dictate how their children are raised; where one keeps the fruits of one’s labor.

    Dan,

    Try driving on a freeway that was not supported by government money, your tax money.

    I’m not saying that government doesn’t do anything good. Inasmuch as they render service for service (namely, that they provide a service for my tax dollars that private enterprise might do equally well), the situation is not too worthy of complaint. But since appointed departments and appropriations are not directly accountable to the people they claim to serve, there is no impetus to render a service that is efficient, affordable, and thorough.

    This, among other reasons, is why pot holes remain for lengths of time; why streets remain poorly lit; why pavement cracks and is patched time and time again. Sure, there are benefits to having the government construct and provide such roads with taxpayers’ money. This does not mean, however, that the overall transaction is a positive one.

    Try living in the world full of military dictatorships because you dismissed your civilian government that controlled the military power.

    Huh? Who’s promoting that? National security and defense is clearly a proper role of government, thus the necessary bureaucracy to handle such an expressly assigned task is morally and logistically sound.

    There are numerous positive things about governance.

    I agree. The absence of law is anarchy. God obeys law. Governance is crucial. I do not dispute that fact. But poorly managed, morally backwards, and oppressive governance yields far less positive things.

    I am really saddened (though not surprised) that you can’t think of anything positive about government.

    Perhaps I should clarify. I don’t believe that government does nothing good. Just as the recipient of social security would be quick to say what a great program it is, there are numerous programs and initiatives that some might argue the government are doing well. The question I ask when considering the “positive” issue is: is it proper?

    Robin Hood was well loved. That does not mean that what he did was right.

    Jason,

    Finding something good about the government does not mean find something that is working perfectly and has no flaws to wish were not present.

    Agreed. Perhaps this is where I differ from those commenting. As I stated above, I think there are plenty of “good” things that the government does. But in deciding what is “positive”, one also has to look at the negative aspect of each element to determine where on the scale it lies. Government is not wholly evil; many of its actions are noble, honorable, and just. But many are not, thus tilting the scale in the negative direction when analyzed as a whole.

    This is not to say that there is nothing positive that the government does—I just couldn’t think of any, and hence I turned to Google, and later my readers. The issues I thought about over the course of a couple days all led me to surmise, as Ringo Starr said, that “whatever government touches, it turns to crap”.

    Jeff,

    However, while the Federal government is given no moral authority to restrict homeschooling, I cannot find anything in the constitution that denies that authority to the states. I would have to argue it for moral reasons, not constitutional reasons, unless you can enlighten me.

    Agreed. State governments, under the proper role of our federal republic, have completely autonomy. Heck, when the Constitution was signed there were several that had state religions. But the argument is a moral one regarding the proper role of government (at any level), as you mention.

    Kelly,

    I admire his optimism that our current state of affairs in government could give way to a much brighter future, made possible by people awakening to the fragile state our Constitution and Bill of Rights are currently in.

    Prophets of old repeatedly counseled their followers to “awake” to the issues and take action. Modern prophets have done the same. As I stated in the post (with the revolting/revolution sentence), I feel that sometimes an impetus is necessary to jolt people a little, thus “helping them” awake and “shake off the dust”.

  15. Doc
    March 9, 2008 at 2:10 pm #

    Connor,
    Bribe takes a new form, that’s the best you got. I know people are bigoted against public service, and even that there is a kernel of truth to complaints. Ithink there is even more truth to no one wanting a job were they were told repeatedly they are wasting taxpayer’s money, but no matter. I don’t care really if private industry could run the post office better, I just know its cheaper and as reliable (moreso in my experience) than UPS or FedEx.
    Your paranoia about voting machines doesn’t bother me near so much as the regular riots that pervade young democracies over the world.
    Great as you are at finding the dark lining in any good news, the fact is you can’t accept the idea that government could be doing ANYTHING right. That is narrow and closed minded, and frankly, keeps anyone from taking you seriously even if you were to have a point.

  16. Connor
    March 9, 2008 at 2:41 pm #

    Doc,

    Your comment, as I read it, assumes that I am not grateful nor cognizant of the great blessings and opportunities we have in our country. Both are completely wrong.

    Having gratitude for these blessings is precisely the reason why I staunchly oppose any measure, legislation, action, or principle that seeks to reduce or abolish them. In that vein, I agree with Madison:

    I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. (James Madison, via Quoty)

    Again, I realize quite well that comparatively speaking, we lead great lives with ample opportunities to enjoy freedom and prosper. But I’m not in those countries. I’m here in America, where I want to see greater liberties and opportunities afforded my children and grandchildren. Taking a stand against the first misstep, however small, is crucial in that effort. Many oppose this, telling the person to look around the world and consider how much worse it is elsewhere. Of such a situation, Madison elsewhere wrote:

    It is proper to take alarm at the first experiment on our liberties. We hold this prudent jealousy to be the first duty of citizens, and one of the noblest characteristics of the late Revolution. The freemen of America did not wait till usurped power had strengthened itself by exercise, and entangled the question in precedents. They saw all the consequences in the principle, and they avoided the consequences by denying the principle. (James Madison, via Quoty)

    I take those as my marching orders. Idealism is largely written off these days in the political arena, but I’m of the opinion that more of it (based on correct principles) is needed to save the Constitution and preserve liberty.

  17. Daniel
    March 10, 2008 at 1:37 am #

    It’s so strange… It’s not that he can’t think of anything the government does well — it’s that he thinks government is congenitally incapable of doing anything well, or that if it could, it shouldn’t.

    Under no circumstances should this kind of person be allowed near government. They wouldn’t do a good job at it because they think it’s a moral wrong. And the ideological streak makes them not play well with others.

  18. Connor
    March 10, 2008 at 6:42 am #

    They wouldn’t do a good job at it because they think it’s a moral wrong.

    Well, now, there’s a humongous fallacy. In no way do I think this to be true. Constrained to its proper role and powers, government has a great purpose to serve, and if it remains so constrained, it does it well. It is only a moral wrong when it steps outside that boundary and uses force to compel others to act in a way they would not prefer, when their actions (or inactions) have not caused anybody harm or injury.

  19. Jeff Thayne
    March 10, 2008 at 8:17 am #

    Daniel, this is just the kind of person we need in government. We have dealt too long with people in government who think they can do everything better than the free market, or think they know best what’s good for everyone else. We have dealt too long we people in government with no self-restraint or respect for the constitution.

    “The spirit that rebels against governmental meddling in the affairs of the people of this nation is one that should be fostered. If the day comes that Mr. Average Citizen meekly submits to government intervention and control of his economic and social affairs then he will be in line to have his rights and freedoms curtailed. We need to develop the desire to keep our freedoms and rights alive. To do this we should know what these rights are both our inalienable or natural rights and our political rights.” (Bruce R. McConkie, The Deseret News)

    Sounds to me like this attitude is a good one.

  20. Kelly W.
    March 10, 2008 at 3:20 pm #

    I’ve racked my brain trying to think of something that govenment does well. My short list:

    1) Keeps taxes very low for the wealthiest people.

    2) Creates a very hospitable environment for large corporations such as Monsanto, by keeping regulations minimal – for example, no need to label Genetically Modified foods. What consumers don’t know won’t hurt them.

    3) Creates a very hospitable environment for immigrants crossing the borders. They get plentiful jobs in the service sector and agriculture because they can outcompete Americans in wages. Employers are spared much red tape and hassle. After all, America is a nation of immigrants.

    4) Lehi says that opposition in all things is a good thing, in order to bring to pass God’s plan of salvation. Government provides for us a great deal of opposition, no doubt to our benefit, because we can grow from the opposition, and can exercise our agency.

  21. Daniel
    March 10, 2008 at 5:20 pm #

    Perhaps I’ve been too negative.

    In the spirit of this post, I’m going to try and find something positive about Connor’s political proclivities.

    By golly, I can’t think of anything.

  22. Chris
    March 10, 2008 at 7:03 pm #

    That was funny!

  23. Dan
    March 11, 2008 at 3:18 am #

    For those of you who think that the best governor is the one who hates to govern, I give you the greatest example of what a fallacy that idea really is: George W. Bush.

    He ran on a campaign to “starve the beast” so to speak. But because he had such a derision of government, when it came time to handle a crisis (like, say, oh, Katrina) his derision towards actual governance came to light. He failed to take charge as he was supposed to. People died that shouldn’t have died. People suffered that should not have suffered.

    What you get out of people who deride governance is poor governance, incompetence, corruption of the worst kind, and a failing of the duties he or she swore to do. These are not the kinds of people that anyone should ever consider worthy of governing.

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