Which Comes First, People or Government?
[promoted from the diaries as part of the Ambitious Writer’s Program]
Which comes first, egg or chicken? It’s a philosophical question that could be answered either way. There is really no right or wrong answer to this question. Ever since Obama spoke foolishly out of his mouth with his now infamous quote, “You didn’t build that,” as if business must depend on some assistance from government in order to succeed at all, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking on this subject. I realize that this is old news by now, as most people’s attention span is short and anything that happens 2 or 3 weeks ago might as well count as an eternity, but in my opinion, this is something that’s worth to debate. So, please bear with me.
Obama claimed that his statement was taken out of context, and that he was actually referring to somebody investing in roads and bridges. Well, let’s talk about that, shall we? Again, the philosophical question of egg and chicken can be applied in this situation. By what means were roads and bridges built? If it was government investing in roads and bridges, then by what means did it collect enough funds to fund these projects? Through taxes, right? On whom or what were taxes levied on? Private companies and individuals. The only way government could collect enough taxes to fund various public projects was if the private sector made enough profit to be taxed. In the other words, government depends on the private sector in order to be able to function smoothly.
Obama is also forgetting one very important fact, while it’s true that government did invest some in roads and bridges as to create an environment that’s conducive for entrepreneurs to thrive in, there were some private companies that specialized in building roads and bridges! For instance, are you aware of the fact that Keystone Bridge Company founded by Andrew Carnegie built some well-known bridges like Eads Bridge in St. Louis? During the 19th century, there were more than 2,000 privately owned companies that built roads over all America. I don’t deny the fact that government at all levels probably did finance some of roads and bridges, but let’s not delude ourselves into thinking that only government could build roads and bridges. All of this information can be simply obtained from a few minutes of a simple Google search on the Internet, perhaps that is something Obama should have done before he opened his mouth.
So, which comes first, people or government? That’s the question we must begin to answer honestly if we want to pursue the theories of small government and free market economics into actual practice. Of course, some critics will be quick to point out that while all of this is perhaps true, the private sector still depends on government to ensure law and order are enforced, so that everyone may conduct their business in peace. I agree with this point. I call it interdependence. The private sector depends on government for law and order, and likewise, government depends on the private sector to collect enough funds in the service of various public interests such as funding the national defense. Each side does its part by working in harmony with each other, but who gave it the first spark?
It’s the people who have given their consent to form a strong, central government in order to ensure America will grow as a prosperous country. The people first invested their energy, time, and resources into forming the government we have today. Any government formed requires people to give their consent in order to have legitimacy and powers vested in itself to ensure law and order are enforced. For Obama, it’s as if he skipped over the part in the Constitution, where it says, “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union..” Based on this preamble, it’s clear that we as the People invested first in forming a more perfect Union. It’s not the other way around. Therefore, from this point on forward, the government obtained its powers from the consent of the People.
For many business owners and those who work hard without asking for public assistance from government, it’s understandable how they would feel offended by Obama’s foolish statement. But this is an opportunity to gain an insightful view into the minds of Obama and his supporters alike. We can at last see how by imbibing Marxist principles, they might have arrived at the conclusion that no one really builds anything by himself without government’s assistance. It’s a scary thing to behold. Ironically, many liberal critics often mock Reaganomics as the concept of “trickle-down” economics, but in the reality, it’s they who are in fact practicing such concept by giving Government at the top more power, and as its effects and benefits trickle down to the people at the bottom, prosperity will at last flourish like never seen before. It should give you some food for thoughtful poundings.
We can debate the philosophical question of egg and chicken for as long we wish, and no answer will be completely wrong. But in terms of answering which people or government comes first, there can be really no debate on this philosophical question. An honest answer to this sort of question will undoubtedly produce a different kind of expectation for our government and how we try to succeed in our lives without government breathing down our necks all the time.
In a sense, Obama is right, we didn’t build this kind of government, even though he was actually referring to the private sector. So let’s invest our energy, time, and resources into building the kind of government we want and demand — the government that’s reduced in its size and scope of authority that permits the private sector to thrive without being strangled by excessive regulations and taxes. What do you say to this?