What Should Be Government’s Role In A Complex World?

Agrarian and Industrial Societies: A Change In the Industrial Revolution

Limited Government , Under God, Vote Republican

On my way to Iowa City, I drive past an election sign still standing proudly in someone’s yard.  Some days, I smile to myself, amazed that anyone could think our country would be improved by that philosophy.  Most days, it just depresses me, knowing how many people fall for such simplistic thinking.

By “limited,”  do these people mean fewer laws and rules  governing business and personal conduct?  Perhaps they only wish to limit the ways in which the government can assist individuals.

I suspect they intend both, framing these ideals in a glorified yet incorrect version of our country’s history.

Yes, many of the Europeans who came to this continent were seeking a place where they could worship God in their own way, but many of them incorporated “their way” into community requirements with no tolerance for other peoples’ version of “their way.”   After nearly 150 years of this intolerance, when our country separated from English rule, with its own infighting between Catholics and Protestants, the men who wrote our constitution saw fit to include a provision disavowing government sponsored religion.

How would the sign-owner then define “under God”?  Would his “limited government” require all citizens to declare a belief in God?    Who’s version?

As to limited government, our world is a completely different place than it was when we set out to create government by and for the people.   Before us, all governments were the system by which powerholders kept that power.  No governments were interested in the welfare of its citizens beyond avoiding rebellions.  Commercial interests were controlled by and for the ruling parties.

Our world is now incomprehensively complex, compared to when we began this nation.  We now have the ability to affect people whom we will never meet face to face.  Our technologies allow us to cause great harm to the earth in many other places while we live safely out of danger.

We started this nation as a conglomerate of villages, small towns and farms.  Most people lived on farms and produced their own food, or had access to hunting grounds.  Not until the Industrial age did we have large numbers of people crowded together away from food sources.  Medical care beyond bonesetting and nursing, was practically non-existent.   People lived more active, healthier lifestyles.

When governments do not step in to help with some of the problems created by our increasingly complex and crowded world,  those problems do not go away, they morph into other problems.  One function of a government by and for the people, is to promote the general welfare of its’ citizens, and the scope of this function has changed along with our technology.

I so wish that “limited government” meant not legislating morality issues.  I do wish that people would stop confusing religious freedom with “one nation, under God.”

Laura Twing lives in Cedar county, with her husband, and various animal companions.

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