The reason that the relationship between citizens and government is always, in general, contentious, is because the relationship is involuntary. We do not get to choose what tax dollars we pay or what government programs we fund with our tax dollars. Some of the functions of government are mandated by the constitution--defense of the country against enemies, the objective upholding of the laws of the land, the defense of individual liberty--and are likely supported by virtually every citizen. Those functions of government that are either not prescribed by or are prohibited by the constitution--probably as much as 75% of what Congress taxes us and spends our money on today--are the contentious bits. On any given issue, health care, bank bailouts, grants and endowments to support the arts, even public schools, you can find substantial numbers of people, and in some cases an outright majority of citizens who would prefer the freedom to make different choices than the ones the government is making for them.
The government's justification for their heavy-handedness is that they are trying to achieve that which is good. But the government has no resources of its own to attain its goals. So it reaches into your pocket and mine, forcibly if necessary. And if you don't believe that force is involved, try not paying your taxes. If a private person did the same thing, no matter how admirable the motive, he would be arrested and tried as a thief. The end result of this is Balkanisation. Citizen number one supports program A but not program B; citizen number two supports program B but not program A. The population becomes divided into special interest groups who are pitted against each other in a constant fight for the favors and the limited tax dollars that the government can bestow.
Individual liberty is the antidote to this constant conflict. The more voluntary relationships the better. When a person buys a car, does he or she drive home from the dealership, park proudly in the driveway to show the family, and then lament, "man, I just got screwed." That never happens! In a voluntary relationship, such as the one between a car dealer and a car buyer, implicit in the contractual agreement that is the sale of the car is the confidence that both sides gain from the exchange. The dealer values the cash more than the car, and the buyer values the car more than the cash. Voluntary exchanges typically benefit both parties; involuntary exchanges (bank robbery is a good example) typically benefit one at the expense of the other.
The current trajectory of the Obama administration and the Democratic majority in Congress is to dramatically increase the size and scope of government, and thus to dramatically increase the number and magnitude of the involuntary exchanges that occur between the citizens and the government of the United States. Their justfication is the promotion of that which is fair and just. Should they succeed they will achieve the opposite.
9 months ago