The question on freedom and government’s role has been surfacing since the 16th Century. In particular, the freedom and human rights concept rose from the primary traits of a human being. In a democratic society, people are free to make laws and select authorities. Therefore, it is important to question the government’s role in fostering freedom and suppressing dictatorial powers.
In the America’s Declaration of Independence, the founding fathers outlined human rights as the pursuit of happiness, life, and freedom (Hale, 2012). It is a sharp contrast to countries such as the United Kingdom and Russia where Kings and Tsars ruled. In these nations, the individual freedom belonged to the leader. In the Roman Empire, freedom meant a citizen’s privileges rather than entitlements. However, the definition changed at the advent of a new world order. For instance, the American and French revolutions reinstated freedom as a human natural right. Nonetheless, Native Americans, blacks, and Chinese minorities in these countries still faced tough challenges with regard to their freedom.
The pursuit of happiness is unattainable unless humans are free to pursue self-fulfillment. As the government’s role changed over the centuries, people in a free world gave the right to live as per their abilities. In addition, the limited government intervention ensures security in their daily engagements. A problem arises when there is a conflict of rights. The federal government has various arms that oversee human freedom to resolve conflicts in a just manner (Hutt, 2012). Because of this, its role cannot be overruled. In the absence of a functional government and a legal system, it is easy for a person to interfere with the other’s freedom and rights. The national government is an arbitrator in case rights in a society conflict. The empowered officials make a decision regarding the party whose rights precede. A failure of a government institution means that sheer power forms the solution basis.
The biblical authors were aware of the human government’s ambiguity and the corrupt nature of people’s desires. Their assumption was that the establishment of a government is God’s plan for maintaining a just order in a death –oriented, chaotic planet. Interestingly, the writers argued that governments become tyrannical and possessive as they uphold efficiency over freedom and justice.
Indeed, the government has a tendency to overreach (Cheh, 2013). The latest example is NSA’s profiling and tracking. The move not only strips away people’s right to privacy but their freedom for free expression. In light of this, freedom activists should push the government to focus on providing basic human needs. In the United States, there is a raging debate regarding healthcare. While people should receive healthcare freely, the exorbitant healthcare insurance cost makes it unaffordable to a section of the population. It is true that the government should not necessarily be the healthcare provider but should supervise and regulate the process. The economics and mechanisms of healthcare provision are subject to debate yet the bible awards the responsibility.
Coming to a consensus on the government’s role is hard. The argument continues on the contesting values of freedom and the administration. According to liberals, the government’s role is to ensure that various entities and agencies meet the people’s needs. On the other hand, the conservatives say that the citizens should be responsible for their freedoms in the case of a harsh social situation (Rose, 2013). What the liberals do not realize is that the government is self-serving. If unchecked, it ironically robs the people’s power instead of serving them. Even in a mature democracy, the government’s aim is to micromanage people through the absorption of initiatives.
Conversely, the conservatives do not know that it takes the government’s initiatives for people to overcome severe circumstances. They ignore that greed is the key motivator of power pursuits. As a result, the conservatives trust self-interest and enlightenment for freedom and justice in the society. The conservatives are less perceptive than liberals on the government’s potential to be good. According to the conservatives, the government is a source of evil and loss of freedom but both are myopic.
Freedom is zero-sum. There is a direct proportion between the government reach and the extent of freedom in people’s lives. As the government gets additional power through executive action or legislation, Americans lose their freedom. Over the past century, the government’s expansion has become increasingly evident, specifically in the early 1930s. Consequently, constitutionalists are sounding an alarm on the erosion of freedom and American values. The existing public discourse focuses on indefinite detention of Americans without charge due to terrorism suspicion, executive actions, and gun laws.
According to John Stuart Mill, the government should detect the majority tyranny, given that the democracy can grant the majority a right to infringe on the minority freedoms and entitlements. Yet, the philosopher sternly warned against the potential negative effects of the resultant bureaucracy as only a handful of people run the government. His conclusion is that American should be wary of the government especially if it infringes on particular immunities and freedoms. Mills justifies rebellion and resistance in case the leaders weaken such entitlements.
The government is a necessity but the people should regularly check its reach. In particular, the economy is a sensitive area that requires minimal government meddling. A severe economic crash, for instance, threatens the country’s stability hence resulting in the loss of the hard-earned freedoms and rights (Cheh, 2013). The heavy government involvement on the Fed’s policies since 2007 has led to currency devaluation. It is observable that the America’s economic system gas transformed into a political arm held by a handful of bureaucrats. Unless there are immediate remedies, the country may degenerate into a failed economy like Spain or Greece.
The education system is even worse. It is a federal atrocity with diminishing outcome at an inflated cost. It is recommendable that the government should privatize the learning institutions by introducing subsidized charter schools. The excessive government intervention has significantly influenced the people’s freedom in determining the education system’s outcome. On the economy, the philosopher argues that a free market result in personal opportunities (Hale, 2012).
As government takes more money from the people through heavy taxation, the citizens lose their freedom. The government uses the finances to fund enormous projects such as NSA surveillance program and a crackdown on suspected terrorists. It is interesting to realize that Americans have become so conditioned and accustomed to the federal institutions that they do not question the freedom loss anymore. In fact, a sizeable population prefers high taxes due to the benefits despite the liberty erosion. They base their consideration on Sweden and other European nation that use a cradle-to-grave system of entitlement.
In summary, there are two aspects determining the preference of freedom over government or vice versa. First, the human condition implies that Americans view the federal government as a loco parentis. It is the main provider of health care, housing and other basic needs. On the other hand, a freedom without basic necessities is void and impractical. Therefore, the two have to work together to ensure national prosperity and social justice. Second, equality is fundamental to avoid sharp divisions in the society.
- Cheh, M. M. (2013). Government Control of Private Ideas—Striking a Balance between Scientific Freedom and National Security. Jurimetrics, 23(1), 1-32.
- Hale, R. L. (2012). Freedom through Law: Public Control of Private Governing Power. Columbia University Press.
- Hutt, P. B. (2012). Unresolved Issues in the Conflict between Individual Freedom and Government Control of Food Safety. Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety, 2(3-4), 447-469.
- Rose, N. (2013). Government and Control. British Journal of Criminology, 40(2), 321-339.