What is the Role of Government?

Up to now, over the course of my almost half century of life, I think pretty much Americans could afford not to pay attention to the question of what the fundamental roles of government are.  Politicians, economists, philosophers, theorists, and even regular folks who just found government interesting could and would debate it, but the average person could focus on their job, their family, and their interests without a great deal changing.  One party would be elected, and then the other, and it would swing back and forth.  But the fundamental roles of government were not challenged.

Today, however, in times of spiraling national debt, terrorism, an increasing gap between rich and poor, and economic instability, there are those who see this as an opportunity to “reset the foundation.”  We are kidding ourselves if we think there are those who won’t fundamentally change this country in a heartbeat if they are able.  Take social security, for instance.  Sure, we all might debate about our ability to fund it.  But there are folks out there today who, just like in the 1930s, viewed that government should have no role in providing for anyone’s retirement.  Or take health care.  Sure there are folks who have well thought out positions for and against the new health care law.  But there are also those who would argue that the government should pay zero when it comes to public health.  This is no longer a “radical” position in current public debate.

We surely cannot spend like there is no tomorrow, as we have been.  Funding social security and health care programs doesn’t mean writing a blank check.  We need to get in there and figure out what we can cut.  We very well might have to change laws that have been passed.  And both parties need to take long hard looks at their traditional benefactors in Federal Spending (both have spent like crazy, just in different areas).

But as politicians work to balance the budget, let every Christian be alert to those who would remove every safety net that has been established in our nation.  We are called to care for our neighbor in need.  And we might just find we ourselves need that safety net too one day.

We are in this together as Americans.  Let us look out for one another.

Until next time,



2 thoughts on “What is the Role of Government?

  1. Tom, I have been thinking lately about how it seems to be an oxymoron that so many of the religious right want a smaller government UNTIL it directly affects them . . . after Katrina we learned in a powerful way what NIMBY meant and although the acronym might be different this seems to be one of the guiding principles . . . smaller government as long as it doesn’t infringe on me . . . I wonder though how this speaks to many of these same people saying we are a Christian nation . . . to me to say we are a Christian nation is to imply that our values as a country are the values of Christ, Himself . . . perhaps, rather than fighting to be called we are a Christian nation those of us who are Christian should work to see that our country values the things that God values as revealed through the person and work of Jesus Christ . . . it seems at least to me that many of those that want us to be called/known as a Christian nation don’t necessarily seem to value the things that God values — such as the dignity and worth of all humans as all of humanity has been created in the image of God.

    Anyway, enough rambling . . . thanks for a thought-provoking post.

  2. I hate to ask such a dumb question, but I never bothered to read Harry Potter. Now, that it’s probably too later, I want to know the story. Does anyone have the Cliffs Notes? Otherwise, I will have remain in the number of seniors who don’t know Harry. At first, my grandchildren weren’t into it. Now they are.

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