Gardens of Democracy and the Role of Government

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  • #1
JDoolin
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"Gardens of Democracy" and the "Role of Government"

What should the role of government be in the United States? I've been reading a book with some suggested answers to these questions, and I thought it might spur a good discussion. Have other people read this book? Are there other good books to read that have good suggestions along these lines?

In Gardens of Democracy, by Eric Liu, and Nick Hanauer, the writers suggest the role of government should be more like that of a gardener, and less like a machine. "A gardener does not make the vine climb or the rose bloom. But he does decide whether it will be vegetables or flowers. He does plant accordingly. He does distinguish between good growth and bad, between a wanted tomato and an unwanted weed. Most of all, he knows that if he doesn't do the work in the garden, no one else will."

What follows is a highly condensed, and probably imperfect synopsis of their ideas.

Big What includes
  • Setting strategic goals for the community; nation state, city, and to do so with an implicit moral opinion that some outcomes are preferable to others.
  • Equipping every citizen with the greatest possible capacity and equal opportunity to join in the pursuit of those goals.
  • Generate trust and encourage cooperation--not just a personal ethic of honesty but a collective condition of reciprocity generated by shared experiences. This is why national service matters, and why it should be mandatory.
  • Sustain true competition and break up concentrations of wealth and power that are unearned and self-perpetuating.

Small How includes
  • Radically re-localize" Provide robust funding for those local means and intentionally link up all the local experiments. Pushing authority ever downward. Forming national, even global networks to allow the local experiments to learn from one another.
  • Be the citizen's hardware store; provide the resources to enable locals to act robustly and to be networked with one another.
  • Be a smarter prime contractor; Government bureaucracies are generally incapable of providing high-quality, low-cost services that adapt to the changing requiremnts of citizens. We are calling on government, like an effective foundation or venture investor to get far better at running competitions. It has to develop more competence to assess performance, replicate successes, and fire failures."
  • Create and amplify positive feedback loops. "Governing to anticipate socially destructive feedback loops like financial bubbles or storms of fraud is a central role. But a modern government should also seek to crecate hurricane-like storps of pro-social activity as well."
  • Offer pounds and pounds of prevention "In the last 20 years urban policing has moved this way, as shown by the emergence of national coalitions of cops and children's advocates like "Fight Crime, Invest in Kids"
  • Design more nudges: "government should not be neutral--it should be very clear and vocal--about pro-social goals and activities."
  • Tax more strategically--and progressively: Allowing the accumulation of uncoordinated tax breaks to release a corporation like GE from paying any taxes whatever is profoundly irresponsible. Letting over a third of the nation's wealth "clot" among just 1 percent of our people--as we will do if the next 30 years are like the last 30--is national suicide. Progressive taxation is the only way for a society to create the virtuous circle of ever-increasing shared prosperity.
  • Create incentives and rewards for over-performance "There should be challenge awards like the X prize in every part of government. in building codes, early learning, health care, car gas mileage. The strategic recognition and rewarding of over-performance is the fastest way to set off cascades of innovation in the public sector.
  • Weed relentlessly: When the evidence says a program has failed or outlived its usefulness, it should end. And government should be looking continuously to end things.

But in order to implement any of these things, we have to "push through an agenda to decalcify the processes by which government in America operates:"

  • Reform redistricting Congressional districts should be drawn independently of the parties, and optimized for a mix of voter viewpoints rather than incumbent protection
  • Restrict money in politics
  • Stop the revolving door. (Government officials and regulators going straight into jobs for the companies they are regulating.)
  • Reform the filibuster (A single secret vote can prevent voting without a supermajority)
  • Reinvigorate voting (Make it mandatory. Get everyone a voter-ID.)
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
mege


Isn't "picking winners and losers" the cornerstone of crony-capitalism which (I believe) most reasonable people are trying to steer our government away from? All of the premises below are basically ways that the government can be more involved into decisions and homogenize choices of the populace - that seems fundamentally contrary to a free society.

The one thing that I agree with:

Weed relentlessly: When the evidence says a program has failed or outlived its usefulness, it should end. And government should be looking continuously to end things.
 
  • #3
918
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You've focused on the only item that has anything to do with gardening. I'm surprised there was no item about spreading a lot of fertilizer.
 
  • #4
JDoolin
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Isn't "picking winners and losers" the cornerstone of crony-capitalism which (I believe) most reasonable people are trying to steer our government away from? All of the premises below are basically ways that the government can be more involved into decisions and homogenize choices of the populace - that seems fundamentally contrary to a free society.

The one thing that I agree with:
I don't think so. Crony-capitalism is a matter of picking winners based on personal gain, while I the idea here is to pick winners based on the gain of the whole of society.

If you don't like crony-capitalism, this could be a good example of
Setting strategic goals for the community; nation state, city, and to do so with an implicit moral opinion that some outcomes are preferable to others.

We would set goals for the community with an implicit moral opinion that crony capitalism is BAD, and then set up an environment of transparency and clarity. For example, we could make it a matter of public knowledge where every penny of public works dollars is going, and what was accomplished with it.

Now what other solutions do you have to eliminate crony-capitalism?
 
  • #5
mege


I don't think so. Crony-capitalism is a matter of picking winners based on personal gain, while I the idea here is to pick winners based on the gain of the whole of society.

If you don't like crony-capitalism, this could be a good example of
Setting strategic goals for the community; nation state, city, and to do so with an implicit moral opinion that some outcomes are preferable to others.

We would set goals for the community with an implicit moral opinion that crony capitalism is BAD, and then set up an environment of transparency and clarity. For example, we could make it a matter of public knowledge where every penny of public works dollars is going, and what was accomplished with it.

Now what other solutions do you have to eliminate crony-capitalism?
The ultimate problem is: who gets to decide what is the best for the whole of society? If we could agree on what is best for society already, then I don't think we'd be having this discussion ;)

To fight crony-capitalism I think that, as a society, we need to embrace a touch more flexability in the political sphere. Crony-capitalism, IMO, stems from having legalists and career policy-writers as our only legislators. In our country's effort to become more specialized, we've allowed a few select professions take over Congress (and most elected positions). If we had more 'subject matter experts' I think that crony-capitalism would go away on it's own. Now, appropriately trained lawyers are subject experts in writing policy, sure - but that doesn't make them the best for 'making' policy (if that distinction makes sense). The problem is lack of incentive (or too much disincentive?) for "non-legalists" to enter in public service. I think that this is the same problem with the American secondary education system, we have 'educators' as teachers when IMO we should have subject matter experts, so this 'over specialized' issue isn't just an issue with our political system. I'm going to do a touch more research (a few initial searches don't come up with anything substantive), but I'd wager that aside from JDs and MBAs the next largest catergory of 'background' for our congresspeople is 'Entertainer'. Where's the engineers, doctors, historians, sociologists, etc? I think that more diverse backgrounds in our legislative bodies would remove the incentives for crony-capitalism without actually marking it as BAD and essentially picking self-interested individuals/groups as 'losers'.

I don't have a good way to mandate that this type of shift occurs and it is one of the so called 'problems with democracy', but I have a hard time buying into democracy being about electing officials that make decisions for me. I elect officials to make decisions in the best interest of the entity that they're running.
 
  • #6
JDoolin
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The ultimate problem is: who gets to decide what is the best for the whole of society? If we could agree on what is best for society already, then I don't think we'd be having this discussion ;)

To fight crony-capitalism I think that, as a society, we need to embrace a touch more flexability in the political sphere. Crony-capitalism, IMO, stems from having legalists and career policy-writers as our only legislators. In our country's effort to become more specialized, we've allowed a few select professions take over Congress (and most elected positions). If we had more 'subject matter experts' I think that crony-capitalism would go away on it's own. Now, appropriately trained lawyers are subject experts in writing policy, sure - but that doesn't make them the best for 'making' policy (if that distinction makes sense). The problem is lack of incentive (or too much disincentive?) for "non-legalists" to enter in public service. I think that this is the same problem with the American secondary education system, we have 'educators' as teachers when IMO we should have subject matter experts, so this 'over specialized' issue isn't just an issue with our political system. I'm going to do a touch more research (a few initial searches don't come up with anything substantive), but I'd wager that aside from JDs and MBAs the next largest catergory of 'background' for our congresspeople is 'Entertainer'. Where's the engineers, doctors, historians, sociologists, etc? I think that more diverse backgrounds in our legislative bodies would remove the incentives for crony-capitalism without actually marking it as BAD and essentially picking self-interested individuals/groups as 'losers'.

I don't have a good way to mandate that this type of shift occurs and it is one of the so called 'problems with democracy', but I have a hard time buying into democracy being about electing officials that make decisions for me. I elect officials to make decisions in the best interest of the entity that they're running.
Well said.

Yes, the distinction between "writing policy" and "making policy" is a good one. Also, I think this relates to the "revolving door" where the policy writers go and work for the companies they are regulating, or vice-versa. A strong incentive for crony-capitalists to enter politics is the massive accumulation of wealth they can receive for just making a few policy changes to benefit a few companies.

Meanwhile, most experts would rather work in the field that they are experts in. If I went to school to become an engineer, or a doctor, etc, I probably intended to get a job as an engineer, or a doctor, etc.

But perhaps more importantly, am I delusional in thinking that there are pretty powerful and dangerous forces at work trying to keep the real experts out and the cronies in? Is this a "nothing to fear but fear itself" situation, or are there real evil forces at work in our economy? When we see these guys in government do these things that look grossly incompetent and stupid, is it really just incompetence, or is it greed, or is it fear? Probably a combination of all three, but I'd wager the worst part is fear.

In the U.S. this fear may be more of humiliation by the media than fear of being physically harmed, but it is still something that most rational people want to steer well clear of. (It also occurred to me that the one group who are more-or-less immune to humiliation are entertainers. Imagine a comedian in Anthony Weiner's shoe, who could have easily been able too turn around the issue and embarrass the media, instead of resigning.)

How do we get real experts more involved in the decision making? And how do we get the crony-capitalists away from the decision making?
 
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  • #7
Dotini
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What should the role of government be in the United States?
Somehow, I'm stuck at the old-fashioned notion that the role of government, at least at the federal level, is defined by the Constitution in this country.

I think it's great to have ideas and discussions about what government should do, but they should be amended into the Constitution before enactment.

I do not think it's okay to ignore the Constitution.


Respectfully submitted,
Steve
 
  • #8
Gokul43201
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The ultimate problem is: who gets to decide what is the best for the whole of society? If we could agree on what is best for society already, then I don't think we'd be having this discussion ;)
Do you believe that it is not the government's rightful role to "promote the general welfare"? If you believe it is, how do you interpret the words 'general welfare'?
 
  • #9
mheslep
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...
The one thing that I agree with:

Weed relentlessly: When the evidence says a program has failed or outlived its usefulness, it should end. And government should be looking continuously to end things.
That's indicative of the flaw with overall prescription. Nobody needs to be told that programs should end when they outlived their usefulness, yet they never do. That is, the authors misunderstand what government is to the point of being ludicrous. Government is something always seeking more power, something dangerous, that is required unfortunately because people are not angels.

Ronald Reagan said:
...a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!
 
  • #10
mheslep
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...
Now what other solutions do you have to eliminate crony-capitalism?
Shrink the size of the state. No crony capitalism with no cronies.
 
  • #11
MarcoD


Shrink the size of the state. No crony capitalism with no cronies.
I wonder why people associate cronyism with the state, whereas I would -and I think lots of other people too- associate it with companies?
 
  • #12
mheslep
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I wonder why people associate cronyism with the state, whereas I would -and I think lots of other people too- associate it with companies?
The phrase refers specifically to the relationship between the state and private buisiness. 2 to tango
 
  • #13
Dotini
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I wonder why people associate cronyism with the state, whereas I would -and I think lots of other people too- associate it with companies?
The association of the state with companies conjures up the fearful term "fascism".

Cronyism puts the politest possible face on it.

Respectfully,
Steve
 
  • #14
MarcoD


Ah, I looked it up. You're right, still didn't get the definition right.
 
  • #15
mege


But perhaps more importantly, am I delusional in thinking that there are pretty powerful and dangerous forces at work trying to keep the real experts out and the cronies in? Is this a "nothing to fear but fear itself" situation, or are there real evil forces at work in our economy? When we see these guys in government do these things that look grossly incompetent and stupid, is it really just incompetence, or is it greed, or is it fear? Probably a combination of all three, but I'd wager the worst part is fear.
From my experience and perspective - much of what is considered 'crony-capitalism' is not done with malicious intent. I think quite often there is a 'we all win' type of mentality. Many business owners and lobbyists are in their positions because they feel what they're doing is a great good for society. They're also good 'salesmen' and good at presenting their product/service in the best possible light. The legalists/lawyers/etc that are in our legislature have to make a decision based on the given information - so ultimately there becomes a bit of selection bias based on best salesmanship on the part of the company trying to gain favor. So I think your statement about 'incompetence' in the government is accurate, but I don't think it deserves as negative of a connotation that comes with it (for the most part).

If anything is done in greed on the part of a legislator, I think that it is done out of self-preservation. This is tricky because it's a double edged sword: the legislator is there to act on behalf of their electorate (so they want to remain popular, right?) but what if ultimately what is popular isn't what is right? I think that this is probably the (malicious-looking) driving force for more policy decisions than any sort of cloak and dagger backroom dealings that are associated with cronyism. IMO A good example in current politics: the auto-bailouts. It would have been seen as a slight to the unions to not bailout GM and Chrysler (disclosure: I was working, non-union, for GM service engineering when the bailouts occured). Noone wants to peeve-off that large of a crowd, so the bailout decision (I feel) was made in a very large part as a gesture to placate the UAW, et al (and any attempt to question it was politically unfeasable, so the full impact wasn't really evaluated).
 
  • #16
39
0


The ultimate problem is: who gets to decide what is the best for the whole of society? If we could agree on what is best for society already, then I don't think we'd be having this discussion ;)

To fight crony-capitalism I think that, as a society, we need to embrace a touch more flexability in the political sphere. Crony-capitalism, IMO, stems from having legalists and career policy-writers as our only legislators. In our country's effort to become more specialized, we've allowed a few select professions take over Congress (and most elected positions). If we had more 'subject matter experts' I think that crony-capitalism would go away on it's own. Now, appropriately trained lawyers are subject experts in writing policy, sure - but that doesn't make them the best for 'making' policy (if that distinction makes sense). The problem is lack of incentive (or too much disincentive?) for "non-legalists" to enter in public service. I think that this is the same problem with the American secondary education system, we have 'educators' as teachers when IMO we should have subject matter experts, so this 'over specialized' issue isn't just an issue with our political system. I'm going to do a touch more research (a few initial searches don't come up with anything substantive), but I'd wager that aside from JDs and MBAs the next largest catergory of 'background' for our congresspeople is 'Entertainer'. Where's the engineers, doctors, historians, sociologists, etc? I think that more diverse backgrounds in our legislative bodies would remove the incentives for crony-capitalism without actually marking it as BAD and essentially picking self-interested individuals/groups as 'losers'.

I don't have a good way to mandate that this type of shift occurs and it is one of the so called 'problems with democracy', but I have a hard time buying into democracy being about electing officials that make decisions for me. I elect officials to make decisions in the best interest of the entity that they're running.
I'm a little mixed about "crony capitalism" being tossed around. This can be as simple as supporting those that supported you. I actually went to look it up to be sure, but the definition of crony is “A longtime close friend or companion “. As long as it isn't a significant detriment of one’s constituency, I'm fine with it. Politics has inherent winners and losers. If “you” support the “other guy”, don’t complain to me if you’re not at the top of my list. That’s the way it has always worked. Whether it’s right-to-life, PETA, or Planned Parenthood, they all have their hooks into someone or some power group, and it will never change, nor should it. We pick sides and there are winners and losers. It’s one way we make decisions we must live with.

As for more “subject matter experts”, those are the folks that are needed to provide input, but not necessarily those that should write the rules. My doctor should have technical input on medical care, but I don’t want him/her deciding how much and what will be paid for. There is an obvious conflict of interest. The system works ok now, IF the congress would actually heed the advance. How many “budget” and “deficit” committee reports have numerous Presidents just said “thank you” and shelved? Additionally, those that write the law need to have a clear understanding on the limits placed on government by the people (Constitution). IMO, any elected legislative job should have education requirements that must include the history of this country. IMO, there needs to be some anchor by which all things are buoyed (the Constitution), and if you don’t understand what was written and in the context it was written, we will be adrift. I don’t want any more Like Rep. Hank Johnson that thought the island of Guam would flip over from the weight of an expanded naval base www.youtube.com/watch?v=zNZczIgVXjg . You wouldn’t believe this person would make it to a position of power, but he did.

I look at legislators a bit different. If this guy where at a compariable skill, ethic and knowledge level in medicine, would I let him operate on my family member? If this women was a builder with a compariable skill, ethic and knowledge level in construction, would I let them build my house. We all went to school with some popular people, but can you say you'd unquestionably hire them? Some yes, some hell no. Elections seem to be popularity contests.
 
  • #17
39
0


From my experience and perspective - much of what is considered 'crony-capitalism' is not done with malicious intent. I think quite often there is a 'we all win' type of mentality. Many business owners and lobbyists are in their positions because they feel what they're doing is a great good for society. They're also good 'salesmen' and good at presenting their product/service in the best possible light. The legalists/lawyers/etc that are in our legislature have to make a decision based on the given information - so ultimately there becomes a bit of selection bias based on best salesmanship on the part of the company trying to gain favor. So I think your statement about 'incompetence' in the government is accurate, but I don't think it deserves as negative of a connotation that comes with it (for the most part).

If anything is done in greed on the part of a legislator, I think that it is done out of self-preservation. This is tricky because it's a double edged sword: the legislator is there to act on behalf of their electorate (so they want to remain popular, right?) but what if ultimately what is popular isn't what is right? I think that this is probably the (malicious-looking) driving force for more policy decisions than any sort of cloak and dagger backroom dealings that are associated with cronyism. IMO A good example in current politics: the auto-bailouts. It would have been seen as a slight to the unions to not bailout GM and Chrysler (disclosure: I was working, non-union, for GM service engineering when the bailouts occured). Noone wants to peeve-off that large of a crowd, so the bailout decision (I feel) was made in a very large part as a gesture to placate the UAW, et al (and any attempt to question it was politically unfeasable, so the full impact wasn't really evaluated).
Agreed. I would use the Keystone pipeline as an example. Do you tic off the environmental supporters or the labor supporters? Hmm, we'll just punt and say we didn't have enough time. Problem is the Canadian NEB approved the project in 2010, and although I don't know how long it took them to approve the project, I'm guessing it was studied for at least a couple years. The Obama administration makes it sound like this just got dropped on them without warning, but seriously, they had to know this has been cooking since he became president. And, why is it the State Department holding it up for environmental issues, isn't that the EPA's responsibility?
 
  • #18
mheslep
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Try the definition of cronyism:

partiality to cronies especially as evidenced in the appointment of political hangers-on to office without regard to their qualifications
 
  • #19
JDoolin
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I think there are a couple different concepts of cronyism which ought to be distinguished.

(1) choosing a trusted friend for a job instead of a stranger with similar or better (at least on paper) qualifications
(2) choosing an accomplice for a crime instead of a stranger with better qualifications

With part (1) is it better to hire the guy who has a shining resume, but you've never met, or is it better to hire the guy you KNOW you can trust to do the job. Obviously, you want to hire the guy you KNOW you can trust to do the job.

On the other hand, part (2) is it better to hire the guy who has the shining resume, but you've never met, or is it better to hire the guy you KNOW will DO HIS JOB POORLY, and by failing to do their job well, will help you make thousands, millions, or billions of dollars?

Where can a person help you make money by NOT doing their job? An incomplete list.
  • price-fixing
  • insider trading
  • dangerous deregulation
  • scam
  • patenting things you didn't invent
  • failure to enforce rules
  • enforcing rules that help you and hurt others
  • Selling things to you at obscenely low prices
  • Being easily duped
  • Being easily bought
 
  • #20
39
0


I think there are a couple different concepts of cronyism which ought to be distinguished.

(1) choosing a trusted friend for a job instead of a stranger with similar or better (at least on paper) qualifications
(2) choosing an accomplice for a crime instead of a stranger with better qualifications

With part (1) is it better to hire the guy who has a shining resume, but you've never met, or is it better to hire the guy you KNOW you can trust to do the job. Obviously, you want to hire the guy you KNOW you can trust to do the job.

On the other hand, part (2) is it better to hire the guy who has the shining resume, but you've never met, or is it better to hire the guy you KNOW will DO HIS JOB POORLY, and by failing to do their job well, will help you make thousands, millions, or billions of dollars?

Where can a person help you make money by NOT doing their job? An incomplete list.
  • price-fixing
  • insider trading
  • dangerous deregulation
  • scam
  • patenting things you didn't invent
  • failure to enforce rules
  • enforcing rules that help you and hurt others
  • Selling things to you at obscenely low prices
  • Being easily duped
  • Being easily bought
3) Choosing a qualified person with a shared common vision that supported you
4) Choosing a qualified person with a shared common vision that supported you over a person with a shared common vision that didn't support you.
5) Choosing a qualified person with a shared common vision that supported you over a person that is qualified that doesn't support your approach.

"Cronies" aren't always crooks.

I'm fine LEGALLY rewarding supporters. I doubt many of us would support rewarding crooks.
 
  • #21
skippy1729


You've focused on the only item that has anything to do with gardening. I'm surprised there was no item about spreading a lot of fertilizer.
Are you referring to Mushroom Management; keep the people in the dark and feed them a lot of...
 
  • #22
skippy1729


What should the role of government be in the United States? /QUOTE]

It is clearly stated in the Declaration of Independence.

As for the rest of the OP, all I can say is that I don't want to live there and I feel sorry for anyone who does. It has all been tried before. When it doesn't work out, the slaughter begins.
 
  • #23
mheslep
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Madison said:
It is in vain to say that enlightened statesmen will be able to adjust these clashing interests, and render them all subservient to the public good. Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm. Nor, in many cases, can such an adjustment be made at all without taking into view indirect and remote considerations, which will rarely prevail over the immediate interest which one party may find in disregarding the rights of another or the good of the whole.

http://www.constitution.org/fed/federa10.htm
 
  • #24
JDoolin
Gold Member
720
9


What should the role of government be in the United States?
It is clearly stated in the Declaration of Independence.

As for the rest of the OP, all I can say is that I don't want to live there and I feel sorry for anyone who does. It has all been tried before. When it doesn't work out, the slaughter begins.
The Declaration of Independence has only a few clear statements about what the role of government should be. Most of it is about what government should NOT be.

IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

New Hampshire:Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton
Massachusetts:John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry
Rhode Island:Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery
Connecticut:Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott
New York:William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris
New Jersey:Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark
Pennsylvania:Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross
Delaware:Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean
Maryland:Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton
Virginia:George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton
North Carolina:William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn
South Carolina:Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton
Georgia:Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton
(1) Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed
(2) It is the right of the people to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness
(3) these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States... and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

So you've got a statement of values: We value "Safety and Happiness."
a statement of rights of people; the right "to institute a new Government"
the right of states to be "free and independent states"
The rights of the states, which includes "to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do." (That's pretty broad.)
And a commitment: "we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor."

One main struggle in this country is over the values of "Safety" and "Happiness." Homeland Security and Health Insurance get massive money from the government. Meanwhile, funding for public schools, preventative medicine, the arts, and national parks get cut.

Another struggle is that corporations are now a significant player in government. The founding fathers sought a set of checks and balances between Executive, Judicial, and Legislative branches of government. But do we have a check or balance to limit the powers of the Financial branch of government? (Meaning, perhaps, the Fed, and whatever corporations, or groups of corporations may have undue influence and power.)
 
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  • #25
mheslep
Gold Member
311
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What should the role of government be in the United States? ...
The Declaration of Independence has only a few clear statements about what the role of government should be. Most of it is about what government should NOT be.

(1) Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed
...
...
You missed the verb phrase in the Declaration which answers your question most directly: "That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men." Per the Declaration, government is not created to grant happiness, nor to build parks, but exists only to stop the violent intervention of one upon another that would prevent the pursuit of those things by the people themselves.
 

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