Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Why Government?

Uggh politics, yet with the exciting wonderful happenings in Egypt, why not.

We don't have a complete history of how governments began.  There's a primarily accepted theory that essentially tells us that government evolved from the family unit.  Extended family units united under a dominate pair.  This dominate pair eventually became village elders, chiefs, and kings.  Our first warning about the dangers of government, namely a king, is given to us in the 1 Samuel Chapter 8.  Here the Israelites ask Samuel, who had been the spiritual leader of the country as a judge, for a king to govern over them.  Repeatedly he warns that the king is a bad idea, that they will regret this request when they are repressed as slaves to the king's will.  Of course that's exactly what happens, more than once.

So why do we even bother with having a government, if they're such a bad idea?

Well there is the standard little kid answer that someone has to be in charge, but I think we can go beyond that.  In an ideal world where everyone looked out for one another, no one really would need to be in charge.  Sure there would be organizers of different segments of life, teachers to students, creative people, to organizers, to workers and builders, parents to children.  There needs to be organization for roles and collective goals to be realized in any organization.  Working together we accomplish significantly more than we do when divided and isolated.  Yet, in a selfish world and on the large scale anarchy is hardly practical.  We need a leading official, group, or organization that ensures that all of the needs of the individuals of which they govern are cared for, and to smoothly conduct interactions with other governments.

We need governments to insure the equity between collective groups and between individuals.  That equity is defined both by the needs of the individual and by the ethics of the culture.  Starting with the 5 needs defined by our biology:  the need for shelter, food, clean water and air, climatically appropriate clothing, and social opportunities.  A successful government not only ensures these basic needs for all of it's members, but it extends greater opportunities for improvement of the human condition typically through educational opportunities and medical care.  The greater the level of needs that is fulfilled and the happier, healthier, and enlightened the individuals the more successful the government and the country.

In theory the greater the connection between the government and the individuals and the creative, constructive capabilities of the individuals the more the combined units can achieve and the most ideal the living standards can become for all of the individuals.  Under these situations, there is no perception that the government is going to bring about a slavery upon the individual or that the individual would ever wish for the abolition of the government.  In fact, it is this ideal that a good government should strive for.  I would even go so far as to guess that this ideal connection is the founding idea for many modern governments including the United States.    It was this idea that in a time when land was plentiful that Jefferson proposed educating the individuals at least to the point where they could figure their own taxes and to follow the political discourse and think critically enough to make an educated decision in the elections.

No government that I know of actually achieves the ideal.  Maybe in some small island there is a small local government completely in touch with the needs of each of it's individuals and those individuals have the capabilities of building the community.  Therefore, most governments and the individuals over which it presides dance a tenuous waltz, twisting, a swirling from obstacle to obstacle.  As long as the basic needs are met, the obstacles do not do too great a harm to either the existence of the government and the security and wealth found in those who run it, nor do the majority of the individuals find themselves suffering.

 For some most likely absolutely barking mad reason, people like to be the guy in charge.  Therefore there is this desire to be the government or close to the government or in a position of power that influences the government.  Because of this governments because they are after all, made up of individuals, tend to sway from doing the most they can to help and nurture the individuals and instead seek to grow themselves and those within the sphere of influence.  This is how government fulfills it's prophesy and becomes hated by the people.  It starts to neglect those needs for which it was initially set up to insure.  In exchange it brings prominence to it's members, often in the form of personal wealth.

On reflection this should be an area graph,
so picture all the stuff under the line filled in and
the word stability below the line, k thx.
This causes individuals involved in governments to use deceptive measures or fear to convince the individuals for which it is overseeing to allow it to remain in power.  After all as the Egyptians have so gloriously reminded us, it really is the individuals in the country who decide when a change of government will occur.  And it occurs when the fear and deception no longer outweigh difficulty in obtaining the basic biological needs.  Or as I once heard said about the Chinese government (referring to their change to communism and other prior government shifts), "When the people are starving, the government will change."  Extreme use of fear and deception can prolong even the most corrupt of governments, but there is always a breaking point that can not be overcome.  The enlightenment of the individuals lowers that breaking point, so that places like Egypt did not become another North Korea, where the people face far greater government enslavement policy in the form of fear and deception.  

Therefore, this dance generates multiple government types, which in theory all bear equal opportunities to be functional and beneficial, however; they carry a differing level of corruptibility.  This corruptibility comes in equal proportion to the ability of the government to affect rapid change within a country and the amount of direct interaction the government has with all of the other organizations within the country, such as the businesses, religions, and regional governments.  The historical monarchy had absolute authority over all of his or her subjects, their businesses and even their estates.  This allowed them to make whatever changes they saw fit.  However; they also often secluded themselves from the individuals within their country in such a way that they became completely ignorant of the job they were needed to do.  On the other end of the spectrum we have an absolute democracy, the closest of which was seen in Greece and is sighted as the inspiration of modern democracy and republics.  In absolute democracy no change or decision could be made without calling all of the citizens to hear debate and to vote.  Then a majority vote was required for the action, a vote which seldom considered the benefit to one's neighbor, but only the impact upon one's self.  Not only did this government struggle to see the greater good for the minority, but it also is very slow to change and lacks the ability to make rapid decisions.  Current governments all operate between the historical monarchy and the largely theoretical absolute democracy.

So next time you think, how can things get any worse? Or why is the government so slow? Or why are politicians such pig headed two-faced deceitful liars?  You'll know it's because of the dance between the individuals seeking power by influencing and being a part of the government and the meeting of the needs of the individuals, with the hope of going beyond the minimum and improving the lives of all.

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