To Protect and Serve

Homeless in Reno, Nevada

No this article is not about Hawaii five-0 or the OPP like the title might suggest, it is about the role of government in a democratic society. In this hard life of ours, some of us can struggle, we can suffer and we can die. It is the responsibility of our government to prevent this from happening as much as it can. In the end, we are in essence protecting ourselves as a whole.

Conservatives and libertarians alike are of the opinion that government is there to protect us from bullets, meaning the country should have an army to protect itself from invasion and cities should have a police force and perhaps a fire department to protect innocents from bodily harm. That’s it, no more protection do you require.

While those three entities are important, they are usually the least of our worries. The average human being doesn’t concern themselves with getting shot by gangsters or having to thwart off a Chinese invasion. We worry about making enough money to feed our kids, having a roof over our heads and trying to improve our lives from one generation to the next.

No system of government has done more for the welfare of its people than democracy, but now modern day free market capitalism is threatening a new age of feudalism. The “New Deal” of the 1930’s brought unimaginable prosperity to the industrialized world; the greatest generation was given decent working hours, good wages, social security, and eventually Medicare & welfare, etc. These middle class citizens in good turn passed it down to their kids; the baby boomers, who over the last thirty years have decided to keep it all for themselves.

These government edicts have worked in every modernized country that has put it to practice. They have increased the standard of living and the life expectancy for millions upon millions of people compared to a century ago. Most importantly, a program like health care prevents regular Joes from losing their home and descending into poverty, while welfare allows us to not only bounce back up, but to succeed at great lengths after a dismal failure.

Now we hear from economic conservatives that governments can no longer afford it. The richest countries in the world can no longer afford to assist the lowliest of people, but they’ll never tell you that tax rates have been reduced over the years to pre-new deal levels. Instead, they’ll tell you entitlements are a form of “big government” and that the governments can’t be trusted. In other words, some of the same people who want our vote are telling us not to trust them.

Homeless in Reno, Nevada

We live in a society where a growing percentage of the population is buying into the ideology that a billionaire’s freedom to make additional billions is more imperative than reducing the struggles and suffering of those we now deem to be a lazy blight on the country. This is the conservative position that the poor are more useless than serfs and the libertarian position that freedom comes before all else.

While it is true that all roads eventually lead to one’s demise, nothing speeds up the wagon like poverty. Poverty leads to malnutrition, disease and death, not to mention what it can do to the mind. That being said, should it not be every government’s top priority?

Of course, but unfortunately the wealthy have done an amazing job over the last thirty years of convincing the shrinking middle class that the poor are to blame for the country’s problems and it’s the middle class that are more inclined to vote.

We elect our governments to pass laws and regulations that better serve us and protect us. They are not always the best decisions and sometimes they go too far, but I think we’ve learned over the last hundred years what works and what doesn’t. The least we can do is keep what works. It’s only true that a nation is better off without a safety net if there is no one needing to be caught—call me when you find such a place.

If democracy does not exist for the betterment of everyone, then why does it exist at all? Democracy is a synonym for equality, or at least it used to be. A wise pointy eared man once said that “the needs of the many outweighed the needs of the few”. Everyone thought that way at the end of the bloodiest war the world had ever seen. Hopeful we don’t need another to feel that way again.

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