Trusting the Government

Lately, everyone has been up in arms about how we shouldn’t trust the government on X.  X could be health care, school programs, subsidiaries, etc.  The biggest critics are usually the politicians themselves.  There are two problems with this:

  1. It seems odd that you don’t trust the government on X, yet you trust the government to do Y.  For example, you don’t trust the government for universal health care, yet you trust them for national defense.  Why?  Why trust them on one thing but not the other?  I could imagine two replies to this: (a) the attributes of X aren’t the same as Y.  X has qualities where the government cannot (should not?) be trusted with, whereas Y is something where you can (should?) trust the government with.  But my reply is if that’s so, what qualities would that be? and (b) government shouldn’t interfere with the private interests of the citizens.  Ok, that’s fine and a respectable philosophy.  However, there’s a difference between the government is not to be trusted, and the government shouldn’t interfere.
  2. The second reply is more forceful.  If the government isn’t to be trusted, then why are you in government?  Aren’t you government to make government better?  Aren’t you in government so that the people can trust it?  That’s like saying company Z isn’t to be trusted, but I still work there.  Imagine if Martin Luther King, Jr. said the government is not to be trusted with treating black people with respect, therefore I’m not going to do something about it.  That’s preposterous.  If you don’t trust something, yet you’re involved in it, then it seems to me that you have no right to complain.  If you work for X and you don’t trust it, then (a) DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT, or (b) quit!

It makes no sense to say that the government cannot be trusted to do X if you, yourself, work for it.

About shaunmiller

I have just completed a visiting position as an assistant professor at Dalhousie University. My ideas are not associated with my employer; they are expressions of my own thoughts and ideas. Some of them are just musings while others could be serious discussions that could turn into a bigger project. Besides philosophy, I enjoy martial arts (Kuk Sool Won), playing my violin, enjoying coffee around town, and experimenting with new food.
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5 Responses to Trusting the Government

  1. thekillerj says:

    Well, I’ve worked for the State government and I don’t think I’d trust our government to run a city block, let alone a state. I’m not sure how whether or not one is employed by the entity they distrust has anything to do with the legitimacy of their claim.

  2. shaunmiller says:

    KillerJ says:

    Well, I’ve worked for the State government and I don’t think I’d trust our government to run a city block, let alone a state.

    My question is: why not? Let’s say the police run a city block, which they have done in the past. It seems to go in an orderly fashion. I don’t see the problem.

    Also, the idea of trusting a product because you work for them doesn’t make sense if you’re someone who’s on the lower chain. After all, I’ve worked at some places and I would never eat their food, but I wasn’t working there because I thought it was the best food I worked there because I simply needed money. But Congress isn’t like that. They are the top dogs of government. And yet they don’t trust government? That doesn’t make sense to me. That’s like saying Bill Gates doesn’t trust Windows. Well, you’re the top dog of the company, do something about it! If Bill Gates doesn’t like his product, and he’s in charge of it, he can easily do something about it. It seems to be the same thing with the people in charge of government. Am I missing something?

  3. says:

    I meant literally RUN a city block, as in jog that shit! Just kidding, I see your point though. Maybe all the members of congress know of their own corruption, and apply it to government as a whole.

  4. shaunmiller says:

    You mean like a Machiavellian mindset?

  5. Pingback: What I’ve Learned this Past Year — 2009 Edition « Shaun Miller’s Weblog

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