What a great topic for a conversation at Thanksgiving – what should be the role of government. There is no right or wrong answer. Everybody has an opinion, and there is historical evidence to indicate the results, based on the role chosen by a nation.
The role favored by an individual will be that government is to have a limited role with few controls. Those who favor Collectivism will support a large government with many controls. Both will have their reasons for their beliefs, and to have a belief is not wrong, but to separate the results from the choice, is wrong.
What do I mean when I say that it is wrong to separate the results from the choice? When we make a choice of any kind, there are definite anticipated results. For instance, if I am going to sit for an exam and do no preparation, the expected result is that I will do poorly. On the other hand, if I spend the time, make the effort to prepare for the exam, the expected result is that I will do better. If I spend time with my children, read to them, correct them, set a good example, the chances my child will become a responsible person are greatly enhanced. If I spend little to no time with my child, never read to them, never correct or discipline them, and set a poor example, the chances my child will become an irresponsible person are greatly enhanced. If I support a limited government, my freedoms, my liberties, and my responsibilities are greatly enhanced. If I support a large controlling government, my freedoms, my liberties, and my responsibilities are greatly reduced.
Once we understand that all choices have consequences, and those making the choices are responsible for the consequences, we as individuals must decide if we want to make choices for ourselves and accept the consequences, or do we want others to make our choices and be able to place blame on bad consequences on others.
The United States was formed to be an Individualist nation. This means that we would have a limited government. People would make their own choices and people would be responsible for those consequences. We know this to be true based on the limited powers we the people granted to our government. Those powers are enumerated in our Constitution. They are:
Enumerated Powers of the Federal Government
The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;
To borrow on the credit of the United States;
To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;
To establish a uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;
To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;
To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;
To establish Post Offices and Post Roads;
To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;
To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;
To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offenses against the Law of Nations;
To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;
To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;
To provide and maintain a Navy, To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;
To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions.
As you will notice, the powers given to the government were primarily to defend the nation from enemies, and to bring uniformity that would aid in commerce. We the people did not give the government powers to make our choices as to how we would live our lives or how we would think. Each individual was given the power to make choices and the responsibilities for their choices.
History has revealed the results of having a limited government with individual responsibility.
Collectivism calls for government that controls the lives and the thoughts of the people. Karl Marx has defined the role government would have. In the Communist Manifesto he lists ten requirements.
Karl Marx's "10 Planks" for government under Collectivism:
Abolition of Property in Land and Application of all Rents of Land to Public Purpose.
A Heavy Progressive or Graduated Income Tax.
Abolition of All Rights of Inheritance.
Confiscation of the Property of All Emigrants and Rebels.
Centralization of Credit in the Hands of the State, by Means of a National Bank with State Capital and an Exclusive Monopoly. Centralization of the Means of Communication and Transport in the Hands of the State.
Extension of Factories and Instruments of Production Owned by the State, the Bringing Into Cultivation of Waste Lands, and the Improvement of the Soil Generally in Accordance with a Common Plan.
Equal Liability of All to Labor. Establishment of Industrial Armies, Especially for Agriculture.
Combination of Agriculture with Manufacturing Industries; Gradual Abolition of the Distinction Between Town and Country by a More Equable Distribution of the Population over the Country.
Free Education for All Children in Public Schools. Abolition of Children's Factory Labor in it's Present Form. Combination of Education with Industrial Production.
In the Critique of the Gotha Program, Marx also explains how, under Collectivism, the proceeds of all labor or the GNP would be distributed. Wages for labor would be nonexistent because Collectivism lives by the Maxim, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”
All revenue or proceeds would go to a central authority or the state. The central authority or state would then:
First, allocate what is necessary to replace the means of production,
Next, allocate an amount necessary to expand the means of production,
Next, allocate a reserve or insurance fund for unplanned occurrences,
Next, allocate for administrative costs,
Next, allocate for communal needs such as schools and health care,
Next, allocate for people unable to work,
Finally, give what is left to producers based on some formula that defines need.
History has revealed the results of following the Collectivist theory of having a large government that determines how each individual should live their life and what each individual can think.
Now you know the differences and history has revealed the results. Discuss what should be the role of government. Remember, there is no right or wrong answer, however the results are defined by your choice.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.