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The proper role of government

By Robert T. Smith
web posted April 27, 2020

It is typical that we debate and argue over symptoms and not the core issue itself, in this case the proper role of government.  The current symptom is the divide over the response to the Peking Pneumonia.

On one side we have those who are more inclined to collectivism.  The collective is the focus of their concerns, an overarching requirement to care for the collective over any one individual’s desires.  All members of the collective must participate.  Winners and losers, favored and unfavored approaches and thoughts must be chosen by those running the collective.  Any dissent from the approach to the collective cannot be allowed.  How can those select few run the collective if an individual won’t obey.  All pegs must fit into the round hole of societal rules.  The collectivist approach is characteristic of socialism, marxism, or communism.    

Gretchen Whitmer
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

In our current divide over the Wuhan Lung Rot, we see the collective approach by Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer.  You may not buy seeds to plant your garden in the same Walmart or Home Depot where you may shop for other items.  Abortion clinics are open, but your dentist is closed. You may not travel to your summer home.  Disobedience to be punished by force of the government.  Hundreds of thousands must lose their livelihood, businesses, life’s savings for the good of the collective.  The collective cannot entrust individuals to behave to the standard that they have decided is appropriate and so they must be controlled.

On the other side we have those who are more inclined to individualism.  Individual life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is the focus, an overarching obligation to live their life responsibly.  A key individual right is, in essence, the right to be left alone if desired without forced participation in a collective.  You are free to make your own choices.  The individual’s success or failure is based on their own actions and their actions interacting with other individuals.  The uniqueness and talents of the individual are the distinguishing characteristics, not the dictates of the collective leaders.  Consent of the governed, not dictatorial power is the key to managing a state or country of individuals.  This approach is the formula for Americanism.      

Christi Noem
Gov. Kristi Noem

In our current divide over the Beijing Bat-Gobbler Disease, we have South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem.  Governor Noem explained that the value she places on liberty and freedom inspired her to reject strict lockdown measures and instead put the focus on recommendations, not mandates, to the citizens to practice social distancing and hygiene measures.  As Governor Noem stated:

"I’m not one who believes in a one-size-fits-all approach, and even in South Dakota, I’ve got pretty diverse communities.  I’ve got some that are pretty sparse with not many people, and then, I’ve got some that are big cities as well. So, I wanted to leave some flexibility there for local folks to make decisions but also recognizing that when it comes down to it that these guys had to take on the personal responsibility <bold added for emphasis> that is necessary to really go after this virus.” 

Ultimately, upholding the Constitution was a top priority for Noem, her oath to protect the rights enshrined in that document was paramount.

“I believe in people’s freedoms and liberties, and I always balance that with every decision that I make as Governor. I get overly concerned with leaders who take too much power in a time of crisis because I think that’s how we directly lose our country someday by leaders overstepping their proper role."

Two very different responses to the same situation.  These examples exist in a continuum, there are nuances between these example approaches.  Certainly, an individual should not cause harm to another by acting irresponsibly and purposefully infecting another individual.  Alternatively, every job is essential to some individual’s life.  In a country that is based on the individual’s inalienable rights, provided by their creator, push back to the Whitmer approach over the Noem approach seems reasonable and even necessary to maintain the proper role of government. ESR

Robert T. Smith is an environmental scientist who spends his days enjoying life and the pursuit of happiness with his family.  He confesses to cling to his liberty, guns and religion, with antipathy toward the arrogant ruling elites throughout the country.

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