Sunday, 8 July 2012

Be fair to your government

The hardest thing to run is a country.  Running a corporation pales by comparison.

Governments are all corrupt to differing degrees: those less corrupt than others are usually referred to as good governments.  Anybody can provide solutions to their country's problems from the comfort of their armchair, but when there's responsibility, comprehensive data that the public are not privy to, budgetary constraints and political consequences to account for, the decisions are never that easy.  It's never as simple as implementing or removing the death penalty, reducing taxes or putting more police on the streets.  It's hard enough to enact a change in a privately run corporation; to do so in a country is a long, tedious process.

Now, here's a suggestion that would require a certain level of maturity and objectivity: give thanks for the functions that your government does perform.

Yes, it's our taxes that foots the bill for all of this, but this isn't just about who pays for what; it's also about the co-ordinating function a government provides to ensure order and a country that works.  In any case, you can't have something for nothing.

Below are just a few components of government that need to come together daily to ensure a country functions:

 Roads and rail
 An army for national protection
 A police force for civilian protection
 Education (you may not know it, but governments in most countries subsidize university costs - the fees you pay only covers a portion of the total cost incurred to educate you)
 Water and sanitation

You pay additional money for the last two on top of your taxes, but still, the task of piping clean water to your house and generating electricity for all your electronic devices is not simple.  Consider: If one was to do all of the above independently by themselves, it would cost them much more than the taxes or utility bills they pay.

Even the most hardened pro-privatization entrepreneur couldn't build her business without the infrastructure (roads, electricity, water, telecommunications) put in place by her government.  You are never truly "self-made" - you have generations of infrastructure and laws in place that enable you to do the many things you can today.  

Chaos would ensue

The bottom line is: we can't do without a government yet and we shouldn't be mad with them 24/7.  We're inherently very critical and cynical towards governments.  The fact is chaos would ensue if governments were not in place, because society cannot be left to spontaneously regulate itself.  We elect them, we expect them to take care of us, and for the most part our government does just that.  In spite of their many flaws and the rifts we have with them, the relationship between a government and its people is unquestionably a mutually beneficial one.

I'm not making excuses for their shortcomings, but the fact is we're too critical and overrate the effect of what we think are the wrong decisions they make.  Very, very few policies will directly and significantly affect the quality of your life.  The true power to improve your life lies in your hands, it always has.  We can't keep focusing on what the government does wrong all the time - that's a mental disease we as citizens need to alleviate ourselves from.

Question things and be an active citizen; but to incessantly complain about your government not cracking down on crime or not creating enough jobs for four straight years (every presidential term) is a waste of energy and time.  Speak with your vote, watch your government, but every now and then switch modes, stand back, and be thankful for the many functions a government does perform for you and your countrymen.

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