Monday, 19 September 2005

The Country We Want

Carla, of Preemptive Karma asks her readers what kind of government they want. She gives her own answers, followed by some responses here. She evoked this response from me:

I want a government and a nation that respects the necessity of opposing forces.

I want a country where individuals are always free and often inspired to aspire to greatness, chase their passions, and help their fellow citizens.

I want a country where greatness and selflessness is encouraged, but greed and meanness is discouraged.

I want balance in government, with opposing forces designed to assure that power is never concentrated in the hands of too few individuals.

I want transparency in government, and fluidity between the governing and the governed.

I want a balance between a respect for the privacy of the individual and the need for individuals and corporations to own up to their responsibilities.

I want a government that understands that personhood is an attribute of individuals, not corporations.

In short we need to recognize the truth of this reflection of James Madison nearly 200 years ago:

If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In forming a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.

Then I went back and read her list in more detail. She hit some truths I missed, and had a somewhat different emphasis. I really like what she had to say about foreign affairs and leading by example.

I do think people should speak more frequently about their ideals, as there is a tendency to get hung up in all the methods and get attached to processes when goals are what's important. My emphasis on balance and opposition is a nod to process which I nonetheless believe to be critical, because human nature is unfortunately reliably corruptible. But we can give individuals a lot of rope as long as there are balancing forces in play.


Joe said...

Totally agree. I have some random ideas in my blog. feel free to check it and leave comments. I'll be checking yours!

carla said...

Thanks for the link. I found the comments people left at Preemptive Karma on this topic pretty fascinating.