Speaking of the Government We Both Want and Deserve

Speaking of the Government We Both Want and Deserve April 24, 2014

If we didn’t want them, we wouldn’t keep voting for them. That’s why we deserve them.

Of course, there’s always the option of thinking with the mind of Christ and not with the world’s wisdom.

On place to go for resources in Thinking Different is here. Beginning that now, long before the election hubbub, can save a lot of headaches later when people start screaming at you that you are a heretic and sinner because you won’t get on board with their favorite supporter of grave intrinsic evil.

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  • Dave G.

    Is it so close to election time? Sigh. Nothing reminds me of how similar the Catholic blogosphere is to the rest of the Internet than that time of year.

  • Newp Ort

    Voting third party?

    • Linebyline

      Well, it kind of is throwing your vote away, for two reasons. First, the majority of voters are convinced that it’s throwing your vote away, and therefore don’t vote third-party, making it a self-fulfilling prophecy. Second, and more importantly, the third-party candidates tend to be even worse than the duopoly candidates.

  • I personally think that’s the ultimate solution in a world where privacy is technologically obsolete.

    The government should have no secrets.

  • Ben Hammer

    But wait! I keep reading on this blog, how good and wonderful the power of government is. That they get their authority to rule over us from God. That we should bow down to the goodness of government. How wonderful all the forced redistribution of wealth is. That the redistributive power of government will make us all so happy! A workers paradise, where there will be social justice, fair wages for all. If only we put government right below God (unlike those stupid communists who put government before God. That’s what they got wrong), and dump all those stupid founding beliefs – especially free market capitalism, the most evil economic theory ever forced upon the poor hapless soles in this rat hole we call America.
    It may not be exactly what I read, but it sure comes across that way.

    • Matt Talbot

      “The Government” is not a “them” but rather (in our constitutional democratic republic) is “us.” The government does not derive its authority from force, but from consent – we, the people, have hired them to serve the common good.

      Now, if you want to make a case that our government has become corrupted, especially in the sense that it is now thoroughly covered in corporate and Wall Street pocket lint, that’s a case I’d find persuasive.

      The way to fix that is through reform, and not by saying that Government (qua government) Is Evil. The choices aren’t Stalin or Somalia.

    • This is because we’ve been trained from youth to think of a single political continuum, ranging from Communists through socialists to liberals to conservatives to libertarians to fascists. But this way of thinking can see only the intimate ties between government bureaucracy and economic structures. It ignores everything else, including families, art, recreation, hobbies, professional life, charity, neighborhoods, and so on. When this socialist-to-fascist worldview is the only lens we’ve got, it’s hard to see options outside that range. It’s like watching “The Wizard of Oz” on a black-and-white 9″ TV: you lose all the colors.

      Yes, government has a powerful role in society, but it has power because it has responsibility to the common good. No, government is not the only power in society, nor should it be. So one way of improving society is through government action, but government action is nowhere near sufficient to improve society. We have other and more immediately influential ways to make our communities, countries, and world a better place than just voting. We have the loving action toward and with family and friends; we have direct productive work with our own hands; we have forums to engage others ranging from universities to journalism to this blog. A vote is at once very powerful, and very limited in its effectiveness, and it is only one tool in the toolbox.

      • Ben Hammer

        I wasn’t trained like that at all. I was trained to stand on my on two feet. I don’t look to the government for handouts and fixes to my every little problem. But they sure as heck have to be in my business every possible way. It is not, nor has it been for quite some time, A government for the people, by the people. My issue is that more socialism is the problem. It doesn’t work, and it never will. This blog seems to take the opposite tack. It seems that if you are not a good socialist, you can’t be a good Catholic. I give to those in need, I don’t need the force of government stealing all my money to give it to those that don’t even need it. Where is the Liberty in that? Is wanting Liberty a sin? The Federal government is corrupt. At just about every level. Including the Judiciary. This blog seems to blame every ill on Conservatives. Well, there is not a lot of Conservatives in the Republican party.

        • Linebyline

          This blog does occasionally take aim at liberals, but usually it doesn’t have to. Mark’s writing for an audience that’s already well aware, for the most part, that the liberalism practiced in the U.S. is at best badly flawed and at worst the enemy of God and of human freedom. To tell us that Democrats support abortion and abortion is bad (for instance) would be about like blogging about the blueness of the sky.

          It’s just that it’s harder to notice that the enemy of our enemy is not really our friend, so Mark makes a point to illustrate that political conservatism as practiced in the U.S. is also often the enemy of God and of freedom.

          I don’t know Mark’s exact position on government welfare generally, so I won’t try to defend him on that. He can chime in if he wants–it’s his combox, after all. All I’ll say is that government welfare isn’t inherently evil, and there’s an argument to be made that since the government has an obligation to care for all its people, it should be spending some of its revenue on providing aid to those in need.

          I won’t disagree with you that the whole thing as practiced in the U.S. rather stinks, largely due to (a) a poorly designed system that keeps people reliant on it rather than helping them get out of poverty so they don’t need welfare anymore; and (b) people who prefer to game the system rather than try to earn an honest living, thereby not only making the system more expensive to operate and causing the costs to be passed on to taxpayers, but also taking aid for themselves that rightly belongs to those who are in actual need.

  • Pete the Greek

    Mark! How DARE you! You have to vote for THIS GUY. If you don’t, then OTHER GUY will win. Could you really live with yourself if OTHER GUY wins???

  • Linebyline

    I’d expect you of all people would know better than to parrot this nonsense.

    Last I checked, we were still a democracy. (Pedants, please see the next paragraph.) In a democracy, it’s possible to get outvoted. I did not vote for Obama. Yet Obama is president now–how can that be if we get the government we voted for and therefore deserve?

    Second, last I checked, we were a republic, i.e. an indirect democracy. For the most part, we elect representatives to do the governing for us. We don’t elect robots (insert Romney joke here) but rather human beings with their own free will. They can and frequently do make decisions that the people who voted for them do not want. (Case in point: I was conned by a “pro-life” PAC into voting nearly a straight Republican ticket in 2010. I got the Congress I voted for: It was a landslide victory for Republicans. Obamacare kept right on rolling, and then there was the whole drone thing.)

    Third, the link between wanting and deserving something is plainly ridiculous. It’s trivial for anyone to rattle off a list of things they want but don’t deserve. I want a cupcake. Do I deseve one? A battered girlfriend may want her abusive jerkwad boyfriend. Does she deserve him?

    Finally, your meme even points out that the government lies to us! How exactly can we be responsible for what the government does when most of the information we have to go on is disinformation designed to manipulate us? Never mind that the NSA was lying to them, so many of them couldn’t really do anything about that particular problem if they wanted to.

    This is incredibly frustrating for me, Mark, because I know you’re smarter than this. You’re the one who showed me to look beyond the Republicans’ “pro-life” veneer and start using my brain when it comes to politics. Now I’m asking you to look past your snark and slogans and start using your brain.

    • chezami

      My point is that, as with the weather, everybody talks about the kleptocracy we have, but then keeps returning them to office. They don’t, therefore, really want things to change. A democracy tends to get the leadership its people want and deserve.

      • Linebyline

        Right. And You’ve got a point, but my issue is with the “everybody.” Judging by the last presidential election, only a little over half of us wanted Obama, which is a far cry from “everybody.” Romney was not much better, but that’s why you and I and a bunch of others didn’t vote for him, either. The democracy is being manipulated to produce the government that the folks you call “our ruling class” want and would deserve if it treated them the same way it treats the rest of us. I don’t see why everyone else should get the blame for that.