- Free Essays, Term Papers & Book Notes

The Government as a Guide

By:   •  Research Paper  •  1,734 Words  •  June 13, 2010  •  1,212 Views

Page 1 of 7

The Government as a Guide

The Government as a Guide

For more than 200 years, the United States of America has prided itself on being a free country. However, some people believe that our government takes its control too far sometimes. How much control should the government have over its people? Should it allow individuals to live his or her life as they choose, as the Libertarian party believes? Should the government interfere in several aspects of a person's life, as a Democratic Liberal would believe? If the government did not interfere, our country would become unbalanced, and it would eventually fail. People sometimes need the government to tell them how to use their money. It may need to force the higher-class individuals to pay taxes in order to allow the lower classes to attend public schools and get an education. The government is necessary to give all people an equal opportunity in life. Society cannot simply rely on private donations from the wealthy to support all the needs of a society. It has a responsibility to guide its citizens in the right direction. The government should not simply protect its people from force and fraud; it has a responsibility to give all people equal opportunities and to make the country as strong as it can possibly be.

In order for the government to be strong and for its people to support it, it must give its citizens an opportunity to voice their opinion. One of the best ways to do this is to have some form of democracy. Abraham Lincoln defines democracy as, "Government for the people, of the people, by the people" ("A Short Definition of Democracy"). It attempts to preserve popular sovereignty, a representative government, checks and balances, and federalism ("A Short Definition of Democracy"). Different political parties view democracy in different ways.

Members of the Libertarian party believe that democracy denies liberty, enslaves people, and forces people to help others against their will. They believe that it causes people to identify themselves with the government instead of as individuals. Libertarians rely heavily on the presumption that all people are willing to act morally responsible. For example, if Sue hurts Joe, Sue should feel morally obligated to help Joe through monetary compensation or any other form of compensation. They believe that if all people were this moral than there would be no need for democracy. (Rothbard) This belief is completely unrealistic. Democratic Liberals have a more practical outlook on democracy.

Democratic Liberals view democracy as a positive aspect of society. They do not feel that much about our current democratic system needs to be changed. They see a problem with our current election process because it only supports two parties, and they feel that money plays too large of a role in the election process, but other than those two issues, they see democracy in a positive light. (McGregor)

Democratic Liberals are much more sensible in their view of government. Democracy is by far the best form of government. It gives all people the chance to vote on issues and voice their opinion. Although some people may choose not to exercise this right, it is available, and it is his or her choice not to participate. Democracy gives every person an equal opportunity to live a prosperous, happy life. The government must interfere in order to uphold the values of democracy. However, how far should the government go? Should the government take on a paternalistic role?

Paternalism is the idea that the government acts as a sort of parent to its citizens. It protects people from making bad choices ("Paternalism, Is It Here to Stay?"). Libertarians obviously reject this thought. They believe that when the government acts in a paternalistic manner it limits people's choices too greatly ("The Case for Libertarianism: Sovereign Individuals"). However, the government must interfere in order to keep people from making bad choices. For example, all people know the harm that drugs, both prescription and illegal, can do to one's body, but some still choose to take those drugs. If the government did not exist to put regulations on these drugs and to punish those who make the wrong choice, it would be a huge detriment to society. Libertarians rely too heavily on the idea that people will do the right thing, but not all people will. It is not right to infringe upon all of the choices that people make, but when it comes to vital, life-changing choices, some people need a little bit of guidance.

One area of life in which people may need a bit of guidance is in money matters. The economy is a very important part of society, and without government regulations, it would become very unbalanced. There must be a group of people to decide such things as minimum wage, corporate welfare, and

Continue for 6 more pages »  •  Join now to read essay The Government as a Guide
Download as (for upgraded members)