Food For Thought: Rules Versus Ethics

I read an article somewhere (sorry, I lost the link to it, will update if I locate again,) that hypothesized what the reasoning could possibly be for the unbridled hatred of the Affordable Care Act, aside from what looks like utter insanity.  I mean, considering everything, who would be against making sure everyone can and does pay for their medical care?  The whole idea behind the Insurance Game is that premiums and costs would go down if more people were in the insurance pools and providers didn’t have to jack up their prices to cover for those who don’t pay.  (Rampant medical bankruptcies, anyone?)  One thought was the passionate antipathy to government being involved in anything.

Now, as a consumer of science fiction stories, I’ve seen plenty of the dystopian worlds where government controlled everything and squished all free thought, speech, and actions.  I’ve also seen plenty where the corporations pretty much took the place of governments.  Valid concerns, of course.  This is why responsible people like us should be more vigilant and involved in our democracy, but that’s a different discussion.

But why is there government?  If it is such a horrible thing, why do we keep creating them?

There are many reasons, but the main reason is, it is simply more efficient and we need rules.  Because not everyone has the time or inclination to do the right thing simply because it’s the right thing to do.

Be honest here.  Do you do the right thing because there’s a rule, or because it’s the right thing to do.  This is different than something being the right thing to do because there’s a rule for/against it.  Rules are really rather arbitrary.  No government, no rules.  Sounds cool, huh?  Utopia, right?

So, your neighbor decides his land now includes yours.  No government there to maintain lists of property lines.  You talk to your neighbor, but nope, he’s not budging.  In fact, he punches you.  Because you are not like him.  That’s assault, but wait.  There’s no rules against that.  Oh, he decides you’re too irritating because you don’t believe in the same things as him and kills you.  Murder.  No rules against that, either.  And no, the religious institutions are not going to help.  That’s a theological government, not a secular one.  They’re gone, too.

But say you and your neighbors get along.  That’s great.  You have a road along your property lines.  You are responsible for the half that borders your property, the other side of the street is that guy’s responsibility, just like all the sections along the way on either side are other people’s responsibility.  You put in time and effort to keep your part of the road in good shape, but the other neighbors don’t.  Where are the road crews to just take care of the whole darned thing?  Oops, no government.  It’s all on you.  Good luck convincing the others to do their part.  At least assault and murder aren’t rules stopping you.  (But if you win, now you own and get to take care of their parts of the road now, too. Congratulations!  Most of your days will be filled with road upkeep.  Nevermind now you have no time to earn money.)

Oh, and then there is money!  That’s a government thing, too.  No government, no currency.  It’s all bartering.  Hope you can convince people to give you a fair value on your work.  But there’s no government to determine what’s fair.  You didn’t need sleep anyway, right?  Besides, you are starving and desperate so you will work all day to be able to get a sandwich.  If you’re lucky you can afford that much.

Just because you might not rape, murder, steal, assault, cheat, or anything that is ethically wrong doesn’t mean that others will do the same.  Government gives us structure through rules.  There are punishments for breaking rules.  Government provides infrastructure and the means to maintain it.  Money is a unit that assigns value to one’s efforts so that one large thing can pay for days or months of needs for the person who put in the effort.  They maintain, either themselves or managing others, the lines of communication, travel, electricity, water, education.  We pay taxes to contribute to that maintenance so they are all taken care of equally.

But the government is getting all into our business!  Well, of course they are.  But that’s because the business they are getting into needs rules since it can’t seem to help itself in doing whatever it can instead of whatever it should or should not.  The country is people.  Not corporations.  People.  If people become desperate, they will do desperate things because what the hell is there to lose?  If you are already sick or starving and someone offers you the means to health or food if you just do this or that?  Or you are threatened to losing what you have unless you do this or that?  There are not many people willing to die for their principles, fewer willing to watch a loved one suffer for them.  Survival is a core attribute.

The government is there to take care of the people who are not being taken care of.  They should be helping people to be able to take care of themselves, but right now, the way the rules are there is a gap between government assistance and self sufficiency.  Most notably, we depend on other people to make jobs available to allow people to take care of themselves.  Businesses do what they want, so nothing can be said when a corporation streamlines operations and puts hundreds of people out of work.  Great for their bottom line, but not so great for the people who now cannot take care of themselves.

Could government be run more efficiently?  Oh, hell yes.  Of course it can.  I’m sure all of our lives could stand a bit more efficiency.  It would be better if those in the position of deciding how government takes care of business would actually look past what their political donors want and see what should be done.

Businesses wouldn’t need government rules and regulations if they didn’t create the problems that inspired the rules and regulations to begin with.  If the rich invested back into the communities, there would be no need to tax them more than anyone else, but they are the ones with the currency stockpiles, so of course they are the ones looked to for greater contributions.

Should government be eliminated?  Just think about what no government really means before you say yes to that.  And maybe, it’s time to get more involved with our communities and those who represent them.

About LexyWolfe

I am a writer of fantasy and occasionally science fiction.
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