Saturday, October 24, 2009

On Liberal-Democratic Government and Education

From an American standpoint, and in reacting against the British Monarchy, we held as an ideal that power would be invested in the people and not in a monarch, or a central government. That remains a presupposition for many of us. Government does not own all the power and money and dole it out to thankful citizens. Government has only the power and money that citizens and their representatives vote to give it.

Then too we must be careful with the term Liberal. On this particular matter I consider myself a Liberal. I subscribe to Liberal-Democratic forms of government. But if in someones thinking, the term Liberal has morphed into Socialism; then the original meaning of Liberal has been abandoned.

In regard to the idea of a Liberal-Democratic State promoting positive freedoms, that strikes me as unnecessary in the U.S. We already have those freedoms unless they have been proscribed through the legislative process. This does imply that our government is in the business of negative rather than positive legislation in regard to matters of freedom.

However, we Liberal-Democratic nations have come a long way from the American Rebellion of the 18th century. We have on occasion decided to vote ourselves entitlements. These can be considered positive legislation, but they neednt be. A king could have decided to give his people medical insurance, but in Liberal Democracies we have decided to vote ourselves particular entitlements. We agree to pay for them. The money for it comes from the tax payers. This isnt governmental largesse but the decisions of a majority of tax-payers in these Liberal Democracies. I see nothing wrong with the idea of people voting themselves entitlements -- as long as they can afford to pay for them.

We might also consider that the experiences of Socialistic forms of government, the extremes seen in both Fascism and Communism, and their formulations for how people should be educated. We agree, most of us, that these systems of education have proved to be failures. And since they failed, why we would want to try these approaches again. Are we smarter now? Have we discovered perfection in thought and deed? I dont think so. Who is smart and clever enough to decide what the people need to know? Here in the U.S., in the manifest absence of such smart and clever people, many of us fall back on the ideas of the American Rebels who believed the people should have the right to do and think whatever they liked as long as . . . and here we introduce negative legislation as required.

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