I've really enjoyed the hell out of this class and I thought that I'd go ahead and post my weekly essays from it here, since school has been sucking up so much of my energy that I haven't been participating here as much as I used to, and I thought some people might enjoy them. Commentary and discussion welcome! Some of them are not super-polished because of time constraints, please to be forgive.
Essay #1: The Role of the U.S. Government in Providing the People With Basic Necessities
It is my belief that the fundamental purpose of society is to better the lives of its members, and that a society is only as strong as the weakest within it. Therefore, a government’s role should be in keeping with the ideal of building a healthy society. In order to do that, the government has a responsibility to provide, through taxation, an infrastructure such as roads and sewer systems, education, health care, unemployment, disability, retirement, and food and housing for the poor. The government should make provisions for our basic safety through protections and regulations that ensure that no person or business unfairly infringes on another person’s freedom and health, and through enforcement agencies such as the fire and police department. The government should protect its citizens through the means of an armed military, and should also, upon request, if circumstances warrant it, come to the assistance of its allies. The government should protect through careful guardianship the natural resources within its boundaries. The government has a responsibility to guarantee its citizens basic rights and freedoms that protect our privacy, dignity, and humanity. The government has an ultimate responsibility to represent the interests of its people.
Here in the U.S. we have a strong ethic of meritocracy, which has a certain moralistic appeal for many. However, it is my opinion that the meritocracy fails us when it is not grounded in a socialistic system that provides a common minimum standard of living, health care, and education upon which each person may find their footing, and from which they may rise and do great things if they have the capacity to do so. Our capitalist system fails us doubly, because in a system where wealth is concentrated, inherited, and wielded as power to ensure the continuing concentration of wealth, then no matter how great the merit of the individual who is born without leverage to enter that system, they will never be rewarded.
This is why the government’s role should be to help build a level playing field by ensuring every member of our society a decent, free education and access to a minumum level of food, shelter, and health care. All of society, and democracy itself, benefits from an educated and healthy populace. No person, however disadvantaged, should have to worry about homelessness or dying of treatable illnesses, nor should we as a society have to carry the burden of shame for allowing it to happen, let alone the much greater financial burden of imprisoning those who turn to crime as a result of poverty and lack of education.
The government should not attempt to impose control over its citizens’ religious or moral beliefs, consumption of food, drink, or other substances, opinions, self-expression, physical whereabouts, sexuality, association with other people, or any other activities that do not compromise the property, health, or welfare of other people or of communal resources.