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What does government and an amateur car mechanic have in common?

Posted by Chance on May 22, 2009

When I was in high school, a customer at the restaurant where I worked offered to do a tune up on my car for a low price.  I trusted this guy, because I knew that he wouldn’t try to pull one over on me.  I trusted him not to charge me an exhorbant price, and that he would actually put effort into fixing my car.

However, I made a big miscalculation.  He was willing to help out, but he wasn’t able to do so very well.  I trusted his intentions, but I never thought about whether or not I should trust his ability.

With government, politicians tell us that they are working for our own interest.  And sometimes, they are actually trying to do so.  But the question we often do not ask ourselves is, are they even competent in doing so?  We trust that the government knows exactly what kind of cars we need to drive, what price of gas we should be paying, what type of food we should put in our bodies, how many electrical outlets we should have in our home, how to run our schools, the list goes on.  We trust the government because they are “here to help”.  Their intentions alone make them worthy of our trust.

The reality is, we need not only fear the corrupt politicians, I think we need to fear the “benevolent” ones just as much. The bad guy is not always some power hungry dictator who enslaves the masses or commits mass genocide.  Don’t get me wrong, those are bad guys, and they are the worst ones to fear.  But do we need fear only the people who directly enslaves us and ends life, or do we need to also fear the ones who take our freedom little by little and prevents us from truly living?  The latter is dangerous in their own way because no one even realizes they are dangerous.

Is taking freedom away from the people only wrong when it is for the benefit of the ruler, or can it also be wrong when it is supposedly for “the common good”?

There is a ruler who is completely good and completely competent.  His name is God almighty.  Shouldn’t the very fact that He does not take away our freedom and lets us make our own choices count for something?

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8 Responses to “What does government and an amateur car mechanic have in common?”

  1. Dan Trabue said

    Is taking freedom away from the people only wrong when it is for the benefit of the ruler, or can it also be wrong when it is supposedly for “the common good”?

    It would be my guess that you agree with me that it is indeed a good thing to take freedoms away for the common good. You surely agree that if a person kills another, they need to have their freedoms taken away?

    You surely agree that we need to limit the freedom of drivers so that they don’t drive drunk (or else they lose freedoms) or drive, for instance, 100 mph in a school zone?

    I agree, by all means, let’s not trust gov’t. Let’s keep an eye on our fellow citizens we elect to represent us and stay on top of what rules and regulations they’re imposing (as well as which rules and regulations they are NOT imposing). Let’s keep our eye on our representatives. But, let’s NOT throw out the baby with the bathwash.

    Jsut because every rule is not a good rule does not mean that no rules are god rules. Just because every freedom lost is not a good loss, does not mean that NO freedoms should be restricted.

    Right?

    • Chance said

      I’m not advocating anarchism by any means, I am just saying we trust the government with way too many things these days. At least in my opinion. Although I think this blog is a running commentary of what those things are, I can always provide examples here.

  2. Dan Trabue said

    I agree. Trusting gov’t with nearly a trillion dollars each and every year towards a historically unprecedented VAST military machine is stupid. For instance.

    On the other hand, trying to regulate several hundred million cars and factories which spew tons of toxic wastes into our air and water is an entirely reasonable thing to ask our representatives to do.

    In all things, balance and moderation, based on reason and research.

    • Chance said

      On the other hand, trying to regulate several hundred million cars and factories which spew tons of toxic wastes into our air and water is an entirely reasonable thing to ask our representatives to do.
      I agree. Unfortunately the regulation doesn’t end there.

      Mentioning reasonable avenues of regulation doesn’t disprove the unreasonable ones. Should gov’t curb pollution, sure. Set mileage standards for vehicles? I’m not so sure about that. I am smart enough to figure out that cars that get better gas mileage are better. Setting some safety standards for the workplace? Sure. The other numerous laws that regulate the workplace, not so much. Regulating what foods we should eat? Not really a legitimate function of gov’t. Government giving handouts to businesses? Ditto.

  3. Chance said

    “In all things, balance and moderation, based on reason and research.” Let’s look at the $700 billion worth of handouts on top of who-knows-what Bush handed out, I don’t even remember.

    Let’s say I wasn’t such a libertarian stickler who believed so strongly in the idea that gov’t shouldn’t hand out money to failed businesses. Let’s say I was okay with some form of bailout. I think reason would dictate that money shouldn’t be handed out faster than it could possibly be spent, that maybe it made sense to handle out money in smaller chunks, see the effect it had, then hand out more. The research would show that maybe there are better ways to spend the money even if it was the same amount. That money toward higher education – while noble – isn’t really going to spur the economy. That maybe money toward museums would tend to go toward higher priced items and workers at the top of the economic ladder, rather than being distributed more widely.
    So the “reason and research” group says we have to spend all this money and we have to spend it now, whereas the people who are apparently not “balanced or moderate” question if so much money needs to be spent or even spent in a different way.

    I don’t base the ideas I have on some pie-in-the-sky fantasies. I believe the way to spur the economy is to make it easier for businesspeople, especially the small ones, to do their jobs, thus creating more jobs.
    I tend to think gov’t should be drastically smaller. You seem to think that’s a rather extreme point of view. I think it is all about perspective. I think if people back in the late 1700s saw the gov’t we have now, they would freak out. Not that they are the standard-bearers, with slavery and all, but they would be amazed at the size of government.

  4. Dan Trabue said

    I tend to think gov’t should be drastically smaller. You seem to think that’s a rather extreme point of view. I think it is all about perspective. I think if people back in the late 1700s saw the gov’t we have now, they would freak out.

    Perhaps I’ve not been clear. I’m in favor of smaller gov’t where appropriate. I’m in favor of smarter, leaner gov’t.

    I have absolutely no doubt that if G. Washington or T. Jefferson saw the size of our military, they would faint in dismay and disgust (keeping in mind that Washington is the one who said the greatest threat to democracy was an oversized military). They would probably faint at the size of any part of our gov’t.

    So, I’m not at all opposed to smaller gov’t where it makes sense. I see no great compelling reason for us to have a NASA, or at least not spending as much on it as we do. Same for the NEA (although, we really spend just a piddling amount there, I believe). I’d probably cut our military budget in half, were I in charge, saving a half trillion dollars a year in one fell swoop. I’d probably close or cut back our military presence around the world. I’d end or greatly cut back auto subsidies and require drivers to pay their way/pay for all the roads with either a gas tax or a toll or some other form of making the users pay.

    On the other hand, because the cost of a lack of education is so dear, I’m not at all opposed to gov’t (preferably local) paying for schools. The lack of education, I believe, would cost society more than the investment in education. Similarly, prisons seem to be a legitimate expense to me, as are prisoner education/reformation programs.

    I think Left and Right could come together on many issues if we were to take a logical, fiscally responsible look at things. If Program A costs $1x million but there are studies or evidence to show that it would save $2x million, then it would seem we could all gladly join together in support of Program A.

    Conversely, if Program B costs $1x million and there is no evidence that it contributes anything significantly to society, we may well consider ending Program B.

    That seems only reasonable, not extreme in the least.

  5. Chance said

    It sounds like we agree on some things. I just wasn’t sure because it sounded like you were taking the “typical liberal” stance to gov’t, when I see the typical liberal view of gov’t as anything but small. I’m glad to here you say it’s preferable that local gov’t be paying for local education. Maybe it wasn’t clear, I’m not saying get the gov’t out altogether, but not make it so top-heavy. I don’t think D.C. should be dictating policy for all schools. With that said though, I would like to see the school system implement some features that I see working in the market, such as competition through school choice, etc… I think there’s a way to ensure universal access while implementing some of these features.

  6. Dan Trabue said

    I’m generally supportive of local solutions. The more local, the better.

    I see the federal gov’t’s role to be there if local solutions are failing (ie, civil rights inequities in years past – local communities had the chance to ensure equal rights for everyone as guaranteed in our Constitution, but when that failed, gov’t stepped in).

    I also see the federal level to be the appropriate level to deal with certain problems/issues. Defense, for instance. Highways, railways, airways, pollution standards (after all, it does no good for Kentucky to set a high demand on water or air quality if Ohio and Indiana don’t).

    I know that not all liberals/progressives think this way, but many do. Wendell Berry (who prefers not to be labeled liberal/conservative), for instance, as are many in the environmental arena. Most liberal teachers I know prefer for there to be local solutions and balked at federal hoops they had to jump through.

    In other areas, more liberals might seek more federal solutions, but then it might make sense (better foreign policy, for instance).

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