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Author Topic: Necessary Government Functions  (Read 6085 times)

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Offline AndyZTopic starter

Necessary Government Functions
« on: June 30, 2011, 10:01:47 AM »
As I read through stuff, one thing I notice is that a lot of people seem to differ not on what's right, or similar arguments, but a lot of things debate the matter of what a government should do.

I think everyone can agree that a government can maintain a police force/military and that a government should not choose what you should eat or how you should dress (but maybe not, and debates on those are welcome too).  I would like to see philosophical debate on what a government should be involved in doing and what it should not be.

Real life examples can be used but are not necessary.  I also welcome Socratic arguments and "Devil's Advocate" debates to search for holes in logic. 

I would also like to discourage chained reasoning of "You believe in X, which means you must believe in Y, and that makes you a monster."  For example, even though I believe in God, that doesn't mean I hate homosexuality.  I consider Leviticus to be seriously outdated.  I also eat pork.

How I'd like this to work is saying that if people can't show that it's necessary for something, government won't do it.  That will require everything to build rather than blanket statements.

I'll start off with that government should have a police force and military to protect us from internal and external threats to our lives.

Offline alxnjsh

Re: Necessary Government Functions
« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2011, 01:17:18 PM »
There are various forms of government and I think the discussion could be broad in nature or you could specifically say the "U.S. Government."

The government can choose what you should eat - happens all the time in the U.S. if you're receiving a public benefit. The government can also tell you how to dress (take France for instance who most recently outlawed full head scarves).

Offline itsbeenfun2000

Re: Necessary Government Functions
« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2011, 01:28:57 PM »
Well I will start off with I think is some of the obvious. Judicial branch for enforcing law and common law. Education, especially in a democracy, to keep the people informed and develop problem solving skills. Make currency to enhance an economy. Regulate laws for the common good, interstate commerce, environment, etc. I think that is a start I don't want to monopolize the blog. I admit I started with the fonding fathers belief that a public education system is necessary for a democracy to flourish and a few points from the US constitution. What can I say I'm biased.


Offline Hemingway

Re: Necessary Government Functions
« Reply #3 on: June 30, 2011, 02:00:38 PM »
I think everyone can agree that a government can maintain a police force/military

Well ... no. Not unconditionally. We could argue the finers points of pacifism here, or abuse of power by individual cops. Or laws that make no sense.

To be precise, I do believe the government can and should do those things, though to a very limited extent. Above all, I do not think the government should be able to draft people to military service under any circumstances.

That's not to say I'm completely anti state. Education is of paramount importance, in so many ways. But so too, I think, is healthcare. The only people who do not benefit from free universal healthcare, are the exceptionally rich. And the exceptionally rich are generally not the ones in need of benefits. My main concern with regards to the exceptionally rich is how they, in Robin Hood-like fashion, can be made to pay for the benefits of the exceptionally poor. In a manner of speaking, anyway.

Offline RubySlippers

Re: Necessary Government Functions
« Reply #4 on: June 30, 2011, 04:04:08 PM »
Any and all functions to provide for the life, liberty, happiness and well-being of its citizens regardless of social status, wealth or position to a basic level. In other words to take care of their people and be sure the poor are protected from the wealthy to a reasonably degree. And to treat all fairly under a system of laws administered justly.

These depended on the level of government in the USA that means local, state and federal levels have a place.

Offline Vekseid

Re: Necessary Government Functions
« Reply #5 on: June 30, 2011, 09:24:48 PM »
That's not to say I'm completely anti state. Education is of paramount importance, in so many ways. But so too, I think, is healthcare. The only people who do not benefit from free universal healthcare, are the exceptionally rich. And the exceptionally rich are generally not the ones in need of benefits. My main concern with regards to the exceptionally rich is how they, in Robin Hood-like fashion, can be made to pay for the benefits of the exceptionally poor. In a manner of speaking, anyway.

Even the exceptionally rich benefit from universal healthcare.

It takes a special sort of idiot to think that making people afraid or unable to go to the doctor for a strange illness is a good idea.

Even then, though, how is a rentier different from another form of government, in any way except for worse?

You are forced to pay them. They provide little actual economic value. They are accountable to themselves, and not to you.

Why should we should be slaves to the rentier class just because they hold some magic slips of paper?

Offline Zakharra

Re: Necessary Government Functions
« Reply #6 on: July 01, 2011, 01:00:25 AM »
Even the exceptionally rich benefit from universal healthcare.

It takes a special sort of idiot to think that making people afraid or unable to go to the doctor for a strange illness is a good idea.

 Unless the exceptionally rich aren't paying for their health care, they are not benefiting from it because they pay for their own health care


Quote
Even then, though, how is a rentier different from another form of government, in any way except for worse?

You are forced to pay them. They provide little actual economic value. They are accountable to themselves, and not to you.

Why should we should be slaves to the rentier class just because they hold some magic slips of paper?

 Rentiers (you seem to hate them a great deal..) are not a government.

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Re: Necessary Government Functions
« Reply #7 on: July 01, 2011, 01:07:46 AM »
It appears that 'rentier state' is actually more of an economic structure rather than a form of government (somewhat like the old confusion between communism and socialism).   Although, if the people at the top of that economic structure also have political pull (which it certainly appears they do now), then it's difficult to claim that the two are separate.

Offline Vekseid

Re: Necessary Government Functions
« Reply #8 on: July 01, 2011, 04:08:09 AM »
Unless the exceptionally rich aren't paying for their health care, they are not benefiting from it because they pay for their own health care

It is a proven fact that the health of those around you affects your health, and health-related measures are shown to have an effect into the top 1%. If the people in your country are sick, you are going to be negatively impacted. If the people in your country are healthy, you are going to be positively impacted.

This should not even be a debatable point, any longer, on this forum. I've linked to it twice, I believe, once in Elliquiy U at least. If you want to claim that the ultra-rich do not benefit from health care given to the poor, you are going to have to debunk that study. Otherwise, statements to the contrary deserve to be dismissed until that is done.

This is even ignoring the obvious situations - the rich benefit from the poor being vaccinated. The rich benefit from early detection and response to diseases. The rich benefit from the increased productivity of those working for them.

Quote
Rentiers (you seem to hate them a great deal..) are not a government.

Rentiers, by definition, do not generate net productive labor. They have magical slips of paper, through which they have the right to consume the products of society, but are exempt from the responsibility of contributing to them.

When their demands for consumption exceed the ability of their serfs to support it, the system collapses. When it is close to occurring, people are struggling with the sorts of burdens that rentiers present - paying off debts and paying rent being chief among them. Slowly, more and more people simply can't pay any more, and to compensate the rentiers create harsher and harsher laws - make it harder to file bankruptcy, etc. But it can't last forever.

In short, respect needs to be earned. Just because someone was inherited wealth or defrauded people into giving up theirs does not mean they magically earn that respect.

A government is a decision-making body that decides things for others. Corporate governance, for example. This site has a governing body (the staff). If a single organization or small enough group of organizations comes to dominate a field, they can dictate the resulting policies that surround it, and otherwise abuse their authority even in cases where they don't have complete control.

In this case, I am referring to the specific sorts of laws and rules that rentiers have set up around themselves - bankruptcy laws, usury, and so on.

Offline Hemingway

Re: Necessary Government Functions
« Reply #9 on: July 01, 2011, 08:42:52 AM »
Even the exceptionally rich benefit from universal healthcare.

You're probably right ( as per your post elaborating on the point ). I was thinking of the purely economical short-term effects. Simply that someone with a lot of money will end up paying more in taxes than the cost of insurance.

The same is doubly true for those who make their fortunes selling health insurance, I suspect.

Offline AndyZTopic starter

Re: Necessary Government Functions
« Reply #10 on: July 01, 2011, 10:40:33 AM »
Apologies for slow replies.

There are various forms of government and I think the discussion could be broad in nature or you could specifically say the "U.S. Government."

The government can choose what you should eat - happens all the time in the U.S. if you're receiving a public benefit. The government can also tell you how to dress (take France for instance who most recently outlawed full head scarves).

I was hoping for a philosophical debate on what a government should have, rather than what modern-day governments actually do.  I personally believe many governments to be far too large.

Well I will start off with I think is some of the obvious. Judicial branch for enforcing law and common law. Education, especially in a democracy, to keep the people informed and develop problem solving skills. Make currency to enhance an economy. Regulate laws for the common good, interstate commerce, environment, etc. I think that is a start I don't want to monopolize the blog. I admit I started with the fonding fathers belief that a public education system is necessary for a democracy to flourish and a few points from the US constitution. What can I say I'm biased.

One of the things that I have to wonder about sometimes is whether people who don't have any children should have to pay for education of the people that do.  I've heard arguments on this before but would love to see a debate between two educated people on the matter.

A currency is an interesting one, and I certainly don't want to go back to every state having its own currency, but I also sometimes wonder if just printing money is the best way to go about things.  Right now the U.S. is just hyperinflating money (which is the fault of both parties, I know) and would a gold standard be preferable?

Also, minor note, the USA is a representative republic, not a democracy.

Well ... no. Not unconditionally. We could argue the finers points of pacifism here, or abuse of power by individual cops. Or laws that make no sense.

To be precise, I do believe the government can and should do those things, though to a very limited extent. Above all, I do not think the government should be able to draft people to military service under any circumstances.

That's not to say I'm completely anti state. Education is of paramount importance, in so many ways. But so too, I think, is healthcare. The only people who do not benefit from free universal healthcare, are the exceptionally rich. And the exceptionally rich are generally not the ones in need of benefits. My main concern with regards to the exceptionally rich is how they, in Robin Hood-like fashion, can be made to pay for the benefits of the exceptionally poor. In a manner of speaking, anyway.

The first person to debate a point made rather than simply adding more and more.  Thank you.

However, Robin Hood wasn't really about stealing from the rich to give to the poor.  He was stealing the money back that was stolen from the poor by taxes and the like.  Common misconception there; blame Disney's oversimplification.

Any and all functions to provide for the life, liberty, happiness and well-being of its citizens regardless of social status, wealth or position to a basic level. In other words to take care of their people and be sure the poor are protected from the wealthy to a reasonably degree. And to treat all fairly under a system of laws administered justly.

These depended on the level of government in the USA that means local, state and federal levels have a place.

Thank you, Ruby, but it's a bit vague on specifics.  It's very easy to argue one way or another whether something affects life and liberty, let alone happiness and well-being.

Pizza's here; I'll leave this for now.

Offline itsbeenfun2000

Re: Necessary Government Functions
« Reply #11 on: July 01, 2011, 07:53:47 PM »
One of the things that I have to wonder about sometimes is whether people who don't have any children should have to pay for education of the people that do.  I've heard arguments on this before but would love to see a debate between two educated people on the matter.

That debate is as old as the hills. One thing I learned from my parents is simple. If you don't want to pay for the education of others you shouldn't then benefit from it. I would suspect the majority of inventions were developed by people who were publicly educates , workers to improve life in general were mostly educated publicly too. I have no statistics to prove that but if only one thing improves the life of human kind that was developled by someone that was publicly educated then everyone should pay for that improvement.

Other government functions involve enactment and enforcement of just laws.
« Last Edit: July 01, 2011, 07:55:43 PM by itsbeenfun2000 »

Offline RubySlippers

Re: Necessary Government Functions
« Reply #12 on: July 01, 2011, 09:26:03 PM »
I will clarify my earlier position the necessary government functions to me since power in a democratic republic derives from the people is this:

Its whatever and all powers the people wish the government to have either under its core document ,in our case the US Constitution or by the implied consent and granting of those powers to it by the common will of the people in the majority.

Simply put its what the people decide they want as a whole the government to do. So even if its not a constitutional power granted or amended onto it ,say Social Security, its still a power granted to it by what the people wanted through their elected officials. If they didn't find this necessary the government would not likley have the power in question say to have a Social Security system or Medicare or a National Health Program (NHS in Britain for example). At least in a democracy.


Offline BCdan

Re: Necessary Government Functions
« Reply #13 on: July 03, 2011, 12:53:17 PM »
I would like to see a government with a tangible social contract.  By that I mean your actual name signed on a piece of paper with terms of this contract actually spelled out with the functions of government *spelled out.*

As it exists now, we don't have such a thing.  The constitution and bill of rights were heading in the right direction, but they still leave too much gray area and they aren't really a contract per-se.  Plus, unfortunately a large central government has a tendency of ignoring the constitution or simply editing it even if people disagree. 

I think for such a thing to work, you would need a very decentralized state. 


Offline Synecdoche17

Re: Necessary Government Functions
« Reply #14 on: July 03, 2011, 01:48:20 PM »

One of the things that I have to wonder about sometimes is whether people who don't have any children should have to pay for education of the people that do.  I've heard arguments on this before but would love to see a debate between two educated people on the matter.
Hell yes. Everyone benefits from a more educated workforce - better education means more earning power means faster economic growth for everyone. Even Scrooge McDuck should be in favor of public education. If you look at the wealthier areas of the USA, they almost all have very strong public school systems.

Quote
A currency is an interesting one, and I certainly don't want to go back to every state having its own currency, but I also sometimes wonder if just printing money is the best way to go about things.  Right now the U.S. is just hyperinflating money (which is the fault of both parties, I know) and would a gold standard be preferable?
Hyperinflation is generally defined as 10% inflation or more. The US dollar is at maybe 2%. Throwing around words like 'hyper inflating' makes you look like an alarmist. I invite you to study real examples of hyperinflation, like 1930s Germany, 1970s Argentina, modern-day Zimbabwe, before throwing that word around.
A gold standard is a terrible idea. Most reputable economists agree that the gold standard was one of the contributing factors to the Great Depression, because the gold standard meant the problems of 'sick' nations immediately spread to 'healthy' nations as investors used the exchange rates to loot gold from government vaults. Further, the gold standard is inherently unstable, because each new discovery of gold reduces the value of gold, creating random episodes of currency deflation. If you don't like the idea of seasoned economists and financiers altering the value of your currency, how can you be more comfortable with the idea of letting sheer chance do so instead?

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Re: Necessary Government Functions
« Reply #15 on: July 03, 2011, 01:53:10 PM »
Further, the gold standard is inherently unstable, because each new discovery of gold reduces the value of gold, creating random episodes of currency deflation. If you don't like the idea of seasoned economists and financiers altering the value of your currency, how can you be more comfortable with the idea of letting sheer chance do so instead?

I recall watching a documentary about someone who created a fake gold mine by salting an area with small amounts and extrapolating his 'assay' to phenomenal riches.  Something like that would destabilize a gold standard rather quickly (not to mention the people that lost lots of money buying into his mining operation.)

EDIT:  Found a reference.
« Last Edit: July 03, 2011, 02:02:03 PM by Oniya »

Offline BCdan

Re: Necessary Government Functions
« Reply #16 on: July 03, 2011, 02:14:36 PM »
Heres a good NPR show on why gold is considered the best element to make money out of. 

I think what would be better than a gold standard would be a private coinage and banking system.  Unfortunately you will go to jail if you attempt to establish your own currency within the US, even if its completely different from US currency.  For example, the liberty dollar.

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Re: Necessary Government Functions
« Reply #17 on: July 03, 2011, 02:28:52 PM »
Heres a good NPR show on why gold is considered the best element to make money out of. 

I think what would be better than a gold standard would be a private coinage and banking system.  Unfortunately you will go to jail if you attempt to establish your own currency within the US, even if its completely different from US currency.  For example, the liberty dollar.

Not necessarily.  There are currently 17 different communities using a printed local currency.  http://web1.uct.usm.maine.edu/~collom/cc.html  The Liberty Dollar folks were actively asserting that the Federal Reserve was harmful and unconstitutional, which probably had some bearing on the FBI and Secret Service getting involved.

Offline BCdan

Re: Necessary Government Functions
« Reply #18 on: July 03, 2011, 02:40:38 PM »
Not necessarily.  There are currently 17 different communities using a printed local currency.  http://web1.uct.usm.maine.edu/~collom/cc.html  The Liberty Dollar folks were actively asserting that the Federal Reserve was harmful and unconstitutional, which probably had some bearing on the FBI and Secret Service getting involved.

The main difference from those currencies is that they are not backed by anything.  Liberty dollars were backed by a physical commodity (in this case, precious metals).  It was shut down because it was claimed that it was too similar to real US dollars, even though it looks completely different. 

Personally, I think that monopolies don't like competition, so thats why it was forcefully shut down. 

Offline Vekseid

Re: Necessary Government Functions
« Reply #19 on: July 03, 2011, 03:56:33 PM »
Heres a good NPR show on why gold is considered the best element to make money out of. 

I think what would be better than a gold standard would be a private coinage and banking system.  Unfortunately you will go to jail if you attempt to establish your own currency within the US, even if its completely different from US currency.  For example, the liberty dollar.

The idiot kept rebasing it to the U.S. dollar, which also brought allegations of fraud. And he had the misfortune to call it a dollar in the first place. The law also forbids actually creating a currency based off of any metal, although that law is probably a weak one constitutionally.

Bitcoin has gone further than Liberty dollars ever have. And while the only thing that backs it is libertarian naivete, there are so far no rules against it, although people using it for drug trafficking may find that it isn't as anonymous as they were led to believe.

The main difference from those currencies is that they are not backed by anything. 

Many of them are backed by hours of labor. I don't know about you, but labor time is a vastly superior thing to base currency off of than gold, in my opinion. You're free to charge two or ten or twenty hours of labor per hour if you think you are worth that much.

Offline BCdan

Re: Necessary Government Functions
« Reply #20 on: July 03, 2011, 04:37:58 PM »
The idiot kept rebasing it to the U.S. dollar, which also brought allegations of fraud. And he had the misfortune to call it a dollar in the first place. The law also forbids actually creating a currency based off of any metal, although that law is probably a weak one constitutionally.

The Liberty Dollar and regular US currency are pretty hard to confuse.  Right now US currency is based off nothing tangible, so trying to setup a competing currency that is based off something that has value is understandable.

Quote
Bitcoin has gone further than Liberty dollars ever have. And while the only thing that backs it is libertarian naivete, there are so far no rules against it, although people using it for drug trafficking may find that it isn't as anonymous as they were led to believe.

Many of them are backed by hours of labor. I don't know about you, but labor time is a vastly superior thing to base currency off of than gold, in my opinion. You're free to charge two or ten or twenty hours of labor per hour if you think you are worth that much.

I guess the point I am trying to make is that while you may like time backed currency, I might like gold backed, or silver backed.  Maybe someone will create a energy backed currency using some sort of entropy resistant battery that can fit inside a coin!  The specifics don't matter.  What matters is that the government should allow currencies to compete so we aren't putting all of our eggs in one basket.

If I am minting gold coins and trading them voluntarily with my neighbors as a way of purchasing goods, then thats my business.  It shouldn't be ok for the government to arrest peaceful people, charge them with a felony and throw them in a prison. 

Offline Vekseid

Re: Necessary Government Functions
« Reply #21 on: July 03, 2011, 07:23:52 PM »
The main difference from those currencies is that they are not backed by anything.  Liberty dollars were backed by a physical commodity (in this case, precious metals).  It was shut down because it was claimed that it was too similar to real US dollars, even though it looks completely different. 

Personally, I think that monopolies don't like competition, so thats why it was forcefully shut down.

And who controls the gold and silver markets?

- South African slave drivers
- India
- The United States Government
- Spain

...at least with a time currency I know I'm getting something meant to be used as a currency, not a potentially deflationary investment instrument.

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Re: Necessary Government Functions
« Reply #22 on: July 03, 2011, 07:32:28 PM »
When it comes right down to it, currency is just a sophisticated form of barter, only instead of getting actual goods, you're getting a little chit that can be traded in for goods.  It means that instead of me trading two chickens and a pig for your plow, I'm handing you something that you can trade in for two chickens and a pig - or something you can actually use that you feel is worth as much as your plow.

Offline BCdan

Re: Necessary Government Functions
« Reply #23 on: July 03, 2011, 07:36:08 PM »
And who controls the gold and silver markets?

- South African slave drivers
- India
- The United States Government
- Spain

...at least with a time currency I know I'm getting something meant to be used as a currency, not a potentially deflationary investment instrument.

And I completely respect your choice.  You have the freedom to engage in such a currency if you wish.  May I have the same choice based on my personal preference?  No, because the government would throw me in jail if I tried to make a competing currency based on whatever metal I chose.

I am not trying to say that my form of currency is better than yours.  Just that we should be able to see which one is truly better, but we can't because its illegal when it really shouldn't be. 

When it comes right down to it, currency is just a sophisticated form of barter, only instead of getting actual goods, you're getting a little chit that can be traded in for goods.  It means that instead of me trading two chickens and a pig for your plow, I'm handing you something that you can trade in for two chickens and a pig - or something you can actually use that you feel is worth as much as your plow.

Exactly.  My main point is that the government should not have a monopoly on the medium of barter because it will be abused and isn't a necessary Government Function.  I want to see competing currencies. 

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Re: Necessary Government Functions
« Reply #24 on: July 03, 2011, 07:49:16 PM »
You can print all the currency you like, with whatever coins you like.  You just can't say that it is a dollar, or US currency, or the currency of any other soveirgn nation.  Milton Bradley does it all the time.  The problem with that is, no one will accept your currency, because it isn't worth anything.  National currencies are backed by an incredibly intricate system of goods and services exchanged, and they fluctuate in value all the time based on the value of whatever is backing them.  Nothing is stopping you from bartering though, and many people are more then willing to barter in various forms, be it a gift card in exchange for goods, a coupon, or a fair trade worked out through negotiation.