I am writing now to provide my opinion on one of the largest and most fundamental issues in modern politics. For years it has been debated as to what the government’s role in society should be. Those of a right wing persuasion believe that the government should stay well out of into are public affairs and only pursue the essentials such as law enforcement. Those of a more left wing ideal tend to believe that the government should act as a steadying force to the ship that is the economy.
Recently I’ve started to see numerous news stories detailing recent new measures here and in the USA which permit the incarceration of civilians for what I believe are not serious crimes. A stand out example would be the posting of copyrighted music on YouTube. A bill is moving through the senate right now which fully prohibits even videos of someone lip syncing to a copyrighted song being posted on the internet without permission and carries with it a ridiculous possible jail time of up to 5 years. For me this is trivial as I don’t really feel that this is the sort of thing that the government should be dealing with. This is an issue that can be resolved between the relevant music companies and websites without having to make it a jailable offence just to unknowingly share a video. I feel that this stems from a general inability of people and citizens to enact control and responsibility for their own lives, possessions and actions.
I like to use the analogy of society being like a board game. People go about their daily lives and move about the board and in my opinion the government should be the one setting the rules so that the person who is most skilful at the game is the most likely to win. If there are too many rules then people are alienated by the board game and don’t want to play. Similarly if there are not enough rules then people will take advantage and cheat. The rules would also be looked upon trivially if arbitrary sanctions were handed out for innocuous events that need not have rules to govern them. The case of the copyrighted music could be modelled as a player not collecting rent in monopoly, or a player not declaring that they need to pay rent. It would seem weird if in either scenario the involved player were sent straight to jail without collecting £200 if they passed go. But this is how it is going down in normal society as people who make honest mistakes are provided with no forgiveness.
In the book “Capitalism and Freedom” by Milton Freidman it is mentions throughout a chapter that the government should act as more of a framework for transactions that occur in the economy and not try and influence then unless the break the laws of the the said transactions.
“To the free man, the country is the collection of individuals who compose it, not something over and above them. He is proud of a common heritage and loyal to common traditions. But he regards government as a means, an instrumentality, neither a grantor of favors and gifts, nor a master or god to be blindly worshipped and served. “
The last sentence of this quote rings true for me in today’s society. We rely on the government for so much in terms of “favours and gifts” whether it be to help the economy, provide income support or to help get us tickets to the Olympics. We all make up the country so why not figure these things out for ourselves and make proactive decisions so that we don’t rely on the government to intervene in every aspect of our lives. Don’t like the state of the economy then find a sector that isn’t suffering, diversify or be entrepreneurial. People can’t just wait for the government to make it better because as history tells us, that rarely happens as we expect.
To inspire you to help in removing the need for en masse government control I leave my readers with a quote from the late (and great) JFK.
“Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country “