Results 1 to 5 of 5
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    San Jose, California
    Posts
    314

    Paternalism (from Economics, rightly understood)

    Paternalism


    Our sworn commitment to maintain American liberty that is, constitutional government of, by, and for the people ought to be the unifying common ground of all political leadership in America. Given this commitment, the foundational aim of all economic policy ought to be to preserve and strengthen the people's capacity for self-government. The first concern of the statesman determined to preserve liberty is therefore what people can do, not what government can do for them.


    Given the welfare-state mentality that has for many years dominated our political life, it's hard for some people even to hear these words, much less understand them. They are more comfortable with the seemingly caring and compassionate rhetoric that portrays society as a family, and government as the locus of parental responsibility in that family. According to this rhetoric, a good government cares for its people the way good parents care for their children making sure that they have adequate housing and food; that they are usefully employed; that they have opportunities for amusement and recreation.


    Some years ago, when my eldest child was in elementary school, I was asked to give a talk to his class about freedom. As I considered what I would say, I found myself in an awkward position. Both as a Christian and an American, I deeply believe that freedom is an essential aspect of humanity. Therefore, when we deny people their freedom, we are denying their humanity.


    My son was around eleven years old at the time. Though my wife and I certainly didn't deny his freedom in principle, as a practical matter it was pretty seriously limited (i.e., he had every right to do as we pleased.) How could I go before his class and extol the virtues of something he wouldn't be enjoying fully for some years to come?


    At length, I realized that the answer lay in the difficulty itself. I ended up beginning my talk by asking the class to imagine what life would be like if they were somehow forced to live as children for the rest of their lives. They might be well cared for, but they would never be able to make all their own decisions, or take full responsibility for their own actions. They would have everything they needed. They would even have toys and fun. But they would never really know their own strengths and weaknesses, or what it was like to achieve something because, or in spite, of them.


    Children live under a benevolent despotism in the literal sense of the term. ("Despotism" comes from the ancient Greek word for head of the family or household.) When we accept the idea of society as a family and make government the locus of parental responsibility in that family, we accept a despotic concept of government.


    Family-based economics


    I realize that some of us (and perhaps, in some ways, all of us) are deeply attracted by the idea of life as perpetual, pampered children our needs provided for; our minds and consciences relieved of concern about life's gravest responsibilities and decisions; our days devoted to self-exploration and fun. However, even aside from the ennui, the existential nausea that at length we would suffer in such a shadow-less existence, there is the harsh evidence of human history that governments made in the image of despotism simply don't remain benevolent for very long.


    The natural bonds and inclinations of affection that may limit the abuse of power within families actually encourage such abuses when the sphere of despotic government is enlarged beyond its natural boundaries. Their tender regard for those they love as their own generally leads despots to disregard the lives, rights, and dignity of people who dwell outside the charmed circle of their affections.


    The seemingly caring and compassionate idea that society is a family thus masks our return to an understanding of government that restores the legitimacy of all the forms of tyranny that have marred human happiness throughout history. I'm sure that some of the people who promote the welfare state mentality have good intentions. Human experience suggests, however, that those good intentions will ultimately be usurped by the domineering passions that have given despotic government in any form such a bad name. Still, as is often the case with well-intentioned errors, there is a hint of truth in the welfare demagogues' appeal to family as the paradigm of social life.


    Of course, it's no more than manipulative sloganeering to call a society of hundreds of millions of people a family. But when it comes to caring for people, it's common sense to remember that the family is the primordial unit of human self-sufficiency. In the literal sense, it is the conceptual basis of economics. (The word "economy" comes again from ancient Greek. It is the compound of two words that refer to the custom or order of the household.) Contrary to the contrived notions often used to introduce people to the study of economics in the modern era, human society did not arise from the interaction of solitary "Robinson Crusoes" seeking to maximize selfish advantages. The dimmest memories of the earliest human times suggest that people have always lived in families, families that arise from the natural bonds and inclinations that lead to procreation and child-rearing.


    If the natural family is the first context in which human beings recognize and care for one another as human beings, the family ought to be of great concern to anyone who cares about humanity. It must be of special concern to anyone who seeks to preserve human liberty, since people who cannot care for themselves will not have the wherewithal to sustain their claim to self-government.


    For the adherents of liberty, preserving the nature, characteristics, and strength of family life thus emerges as the guiding concern for any discussion of economic issues. Let's see how this priority affects our view of the issues at stake in the election to come.
    Excerpt from a larger article Economics, rightly understood (Part 10 of 'The Crisis of the Republic')

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Under your bed.
    Posts
    27,811

    Re: Paternalism (from Economics, rightly understoo

    3C I apologize but I'm Politically Ignorant; what am I supposed to take from this article?
    My Daughter Rules!

    Band of Others: Are you a Gamer looking for a home, look no more bro!

    Ofear.com: Confronting fears, phobias, and panic attacks, in a friendly online community.

    Movie Talk: Like discussing movies, tv and streaming media, well so do we.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    San Jose, California
    Posts
    314

    Re: Paternalism (from Economics, rightly understoo

    I wanted to re-introduce the concepts of freedom and liberty that people profess to value. To be free means having the right of self-government. When people grant a government to take care of their lives for them, they are not free and don't govern themselves.

    I liked the way the author compared how children only have a limited freedom at the supervision of adult authorities, to how adults will allow themselves limited freedom so they are taken care of, as children are. So in effect, we have perpetual childhood. Question is, is that a good thing?

    The danger of government control is that government isn't always benevolent, and it certainly isn't effecient, and it certainly is ripe for mass corruption. Another danger is that a pampered people will tend not to be responsible for their actions if they expect government to be always bailing them out. Those who take pride in their work and achievements will tend to resent free-loaders, and vice versa.

    The political battle lines are drawn between those who wish to grow government and those who wish to restrict government's role in our lives.

    My preference here is to side with the author and others who favor smaller government, trending to more localized government instead of an all-encompassing federal government.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    At Home
    Posts
    12,071

    Re: Paternalism (from Economics, rightly understoo

    I am with you on this one CCC. I am sick of all the handouts people expect.
    The brain is a wonderful organ; it starts working the moment you get up in the morning, and does not stop until you get to the office. (Robert Frost)

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    The Cloud of Unknowing
    Posts
    17,425

    Re: Paternalism (from Economics, rightly understoo

    It is not only people that expect handouts. Many corporates do so as well (farming subsidies to name but the most obvious).
    The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough. - Rabindranath Tagore

    Keep true to the dreams of your youth. - Friedrich Schiller

    The only philosophy which can be responsibly practised in face of despair is the attempt to contemplate all things as they would present themselves from the standpoint of redemption. - Theodor Adorno

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Tags for this Thread

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •