Mission Statement

Mission Statement: This blog is dedicated to both political philosophy and application to current issues based on the ideas of limited government, free markets, and individual liberty. Additionally, this blog strives to create an atmosphere where intelligent discussions based on the principles of logic, no matter the viewpoints expressed in their conclusions, are not only welcome, but also thrive.

To learn more, feel free to read the introduction and subsequent posts which explain the aforementioned philosophy and purpose of this blog in more detail.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Foundations 7: Authority and Responsibility

As I sat pondering the nature of various forms of leadership and their relation to the organizations that they run, a thought stunned me. It had to do with the issues of responsibility and authority, subjects on which I have thought before, but never in the context that opened my mind so much this time. Authority and responsibility are opposite sides of the same coin. If you give someone authority over something, you can then hold them responsible for it. Conversely, if you want to hold someone responsible for something, you must first give them authority over it.

As I said, I had thought this before, and have long been familiar with the concept. The turning point came as I reflected on how it applied to various political arguments and the terminology that is hinted at but rarely used. The concept can be used to examine the true motives for many issues, but let me start with healthcare as I think it is the easiest to illustrate.

Many people today claim that healthcare is a universal right of mankind, that everyone should have health coverage, or that healthcare should not be a privilege of the rich. In a word, the country as a whole has a responsibility to provide healthcare to every citizen (or so the argument goes).

My thought then is this: if I have a responsibility to finance a person’s healthcare through Federal taxes, why am I not also granted authority over that person’s healthcare to ensure a favorable outcome? If I am responsible for another person’s health, then I must also be able to tell them that they must run five miles every day and do pushups and yoga. I should be able to dictate their diet, ensuring they eat only oatmeal for breakfast and chicken salads for dinner, and restrict the total number of calories they ingest. I should be able to limit or forbid things like coffee, cigarettes, artificial sweeteners, alcohol, and bacon.

All of these efforts would produce better “health care” for a person than merely paying for their angioplasty or lung cancer treatments later in life. Why can we as a nation not legislate these things, if we are so concerned about providing good health to all Americans? As I said, this principle applies to any issue where money from some is redistributed to others. Paying welfare should be paired with telling a person how and when and what job they should work. Paying Social Security should be paired with telling those who receive it where they can live. Not until people as a whole recognize that responsibility goes hand in hand with authority, not until they accept this form of legislated healthcare, will I believe in their good intentions and be disabused of the idea that our government is just forcing some to fund the lifestyles of others.


The Heathen Republican said...

I think the rebuttal is that that is exactly how things work... at least, through government as the middle man. For health care, you and I are now responsible to pay more tax or purchase insurance so that the government can provide coverage to people who can't do either. You and I have no say in how these recipients get their health care, but government does. Stipulations will be put on the benefits, health care will be rationed, etc.

Similar for welfare and most other government benefit programs. In order to receive the benefits, the recipient must first meet certain restrictions or abide by certain rules. So, theoretically we do have the authority since we've taken on the responsibility, but in practice it's implemented through government on our behalf.

bogbeagle said...

Yes, indeed, that's exactly how the National Health Service works.

In fact, it has become an "instrument of oppression" in some respects ... since health costs are used as the justification for attacks upon smokers, drinkers, sports-men, motorcyclists and sundry others.

The "offenders" are first vilified in the press; usually they are painted as being irresponsible. Then, the public is informed of the "huge social and financial costs" of this offending behaviour. Finally, the bombshell is dropped and the offenders are sanctioned by various "bans" or by the requirement to pay additional charges if they need treatment.

bogbeagle said...

BTW, you might care to read some of my thoughts on the issue of Authority.


Liberty's Rest Blog said...

This is about the 5th time I am trying this, so we will see what happens...

HR, that is a large part of my issue, and I think others as well. Those directly responsible, through tax burden, have no direct authority. To make it worse, the indirect authority they have is shared with those who are benefiting from the money. I read an opinion once that only taxpayers should be able to vote. While I dismissed it at the time, I will have to revisit it as it seems a decent way to relevel the authority and responsibility. However, it would be much better for the government to limit spending to that which people cannot provide for themselves.

bogbeagle, I think you are also right in that the authority can be taken too far--another reason to get the government out of the racket wherever possible. I will certainly read your link. Thank you for joining my discussions!