Posted by: N.S. Palmer | July 26, 2013

Two Views of Government

By N.S. Palmer

There are two basic views of government. They transcend the usual ideological labels of conservative, liberal, progressive, and libertarian.

One view sees government as a way to establish and enforce a neutral set of rules that permit social interaction and cooperation. People know what they may and may not do, they know what is expected of them and others, and they know that (subject to the inevitable role of luck) their rewards depend on their efforts within the rules.

The other view sees government as a way to attack one’s “enemies,” to indulge one’s animal lust for power and destruction, and to enrich oneself and one’s friends at the expense of everyone else in society. Attacks range from outright murder to changing the laws in ways that impoverish or disenfranchise everyone except for a favored few.

Sadly, irrespective of party label or professed ideology, the latter is the most popular view of government.

Copyright 2013 by N.S. Palmer. May be reproduced as long as byline, copyright notice, and URL ( are included.

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