Comments about ‘My view: Public policy of personal responsibility’

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Published: Tuesday, July 16 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

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Kent C. DeForrest
Provo, UT

Two significant problems with this libertarian rant against government. First, show me one example, in the real world, where libertarianism has actually worked in practice. Why, in all the industrialized world, is there no successful libertarian country? The answer is because these ideas simply do not work, except in idealistic, utopian thinking. Sure, they sound good, but nobody has ever been able to get people to charitably do all the things we expect good government to do.

Second, statistics show that the wealthy, those who would have to fund all this charity, contribute a smaller percentage of their wealth to charitable causes than the middle class. So, once again, this pie-in-the-sky appeal is really just another way of putting the huge burden of taking care of the needy on the backs of the middle class. And they can't do it. Their resources are already stretched too thin.

Unless we are bold enough to equitably share the fruits of labor (profit) with those who actually produce them, the next-best alternative is a progressive tax system. But let's stop calling it "force" and recognize it as simply the way we fund a civilized society.

Jason Welch
Riverton, UT

Kent, Lets stop calling forcing people to pay for something they don't want to, force? Your willingness to take others money without their permission, and view of people as inherently greedy and unwilling to take care of people in need, speaks volumes about your own character.

The struggle between agency and force is not new to our time, I am pretty sure I have heard the "greater good" argument from the advocates of force before. Whether it is to "take care of the poor, and funding a civil society" or "redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost", the effect is the same. A tyrant who thinks he knows better, seeks to take away the agency of man.

Kent C. DeForrest
Provo, UT

Jason, I'm not speaking about my own character, just commenting on the actual state of our society and human nature.

Also, I'm sure you don't like being "forced" to pay for police protection, public libraries, road maintenance, and clean drinking water. Until you lose the attitude that government is the enemy and is evil, you will be part of the problem rather than part of the solution. Using emotionally charged vocabulary is counterproductive and just widens the political divide so that nothing constructive can be accomplished.

In the meantime, perhaps you could give us just one real-world example of libertarianism that works.

Salt Lake City, UT

Mr Boyack has a very limited perspective, showing little historical knowledge. From our British mercantilist roots through the present day commercial interests and government have worked hand-in-hand. More often than not this has been a hand-out to those commercial interests. In the 20th century the common man and woman received (finally) some of government's help, largely beginning with the New Deal. Recent times have simply witnessed some degree (but only some) of balance between the little guy and the big interests in terms of government attentiveness.

Jason Welch
Riverton, UT

Kent, You want to force me to do something I don't want to do, and then pretend like you are not an enemy of agency? I am in favor of self defense, justice, books, the ability to travel, and clean water to drink. I don't pretend that the only way to have these things is to get together with my neighbors, give one of them a gun, and have him go around and collect money from everybody in the neighborhood to pay for them, or else they will be locked in a cage.

I don't know how you define "problem", "solution" and "constructive" action, but I am pretty sure we are not on the same page.

As someone who lives in Provo, UT, I assume you are LDS, or at least are familiar with pioneer history. There is not a better example of a voluntary society than the first few decades of Mormon history in Utah.

Durham, NC

@Jason.... the average Utah family pays in state taxes $5,986 - this includes Income Tax, Property Tax, Sales Tax, and Auto taxes including registration and gas tax. Source - Utah Tax Payers Association. For the same year that these numbers were taken, per student spending was $7009 a year.

So, if you have a single child in school.... you are receiving a net benefit of $1023 a year - you are receiving more in services than you pay in taxes. If you have more than one child in school, that number shifts dramatically to over $8,000 dollars in net benefit.

This does not include any of the other services you use on a daily basis, roads, standby services like police, fire and medical assistance, libraries, the courts, ... the list goes on and on.

So in the end... a lot of people are being "forced" to subsidize the average family in Utah. But even forced is a wrong word. You want to live in a world where it is pay as you go and consume... elect people who will do that. Elect people who will change the system so that before you enroll your kid in school... pay full tuition cost.

Mark l

No one is advocating anarchy or no government. It is possible that our society would work better if people were allowed to make their own choices and take care of themselves and their neighbors.

To the people that say that government needs to do more and more, I have one question, when is the point that government gets to be to big?

Jason Welch
Riverton, UT

Blue Devil, I have five kids and one on the way. I wouldn't dream of subjecting them to the travesty that is our public education system. That I am forced to pay for it, and my own kids education is immoral and unjust.

Kearns, UT

@Kent: I guess when the Mormons first moved into the SLC valley and took care of themselves wasn't a good enough example of people taking care of people without gov't intervention.

Ultra Bob
Cottonwood Heights, UT

There are no rules that govern the formation of governments. There are no rules that say what a government can do or can’t do. There are no limits to what the people can ask their government to do, except the limits of the natural world and the people themselves.

People create governments to do those thing they cannot or don’t want to do for themselves. Governments accomplish their mission by force of control over the people themselves. For every law that protects us from outside enemies there are thousands, millions of laws to protect us from each other.

The need for government comes from the greed and dishonesty of all people of the world. Consequently governments are always created by people seeking to control the wealth of other people.

Our founding fathers were no different. They wanted a bigger piece of the pie. Since governments are reluctant about giving up their control, it usually takes a war to accomplish the deed.

The people in our state governments are doing the same thing that others have done for centuries. Trashing the federal government is just like when we trashed the English.

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY


I think any reasonable interpretation of LDS history in the valley would say that, in the early years, the church really was the govt. for the people.

This leads to a few questions.

First, with a widely dispersed LDS population (inter-spliced with other faith and non-faith communities), could even the LDS now provide that level of care and oversight for their members?

Second, can we base a govt. structure necessary to serve all citizens on what a closely knit religious community will do for its own members? What of those whose faith community (if they have one) is less able to care for its own members?

Eric Checketts
Mesa, AZ

Connor is spot-on. BTW, he's not "rant[ing] against government." That's disingenuous. He may be ranting against the government status quo, but he also acknowledges a proper role for government.

Also, to claim that - short of an equitable sharing of the wealth (a whole debate of its own) - the next best thing is a progressive tax system? More than just a logical leap, that's total nonsense.

Eric Checketts
Mesa, AZ

And, Ultra Bob, I disagree with you. There ARE rules that govern the formation of governments. There ARE rules that say what a government *may* or *may* not due. These rules are called "Natural Law". There's a difference between 'power' and 'authority', and though it is clearly within the *power* of groups and individuals to form governments and do as they please, it is also true that they are acting outside of their moral *authority* anytime they act outside of the boundaries established by Natural Law.

Eric Checketts
Mesa, AZ

I wish I could edit my second post. I meant "do" not "due".

Ultra Bob
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Eric Checketts.

Thank you for responding. The only time I feel insulted is when I am totally ignored.

If there are Natural Laws that apply to governments, where are they posted and who handles the enforcement.

My understanding of the notion of government would include every organized group of human beings, large or small, that shares the responsibilities of the group in return for the benefits of the group.

The family is a government. The parents are the administrators and make and enforce the rules. The kids have only those rights and privileges allowed by the parents.

Churches are governments, with the government administration ranging from democracy to dictatorship.

Every business, club, union, association and whatever is a government for its members.

The only thing constant about governments is the aspect of sharing and the notion of purpose.

m.g. scott
clearfield, UT

I think Mark 1 asks the most important question. What is the limit of government growth? If Democrats would only say they are concerned with too large of a government, then maybe we all could have a constructive debate. However is seems that to Democrats, there is and should be no limit to government spending. The military being the exception, but then Democrats would rather use military cuts to spend more on other programs. Who thinks that the national debt can go on forever. If you do think the debt can grow forever, then I have the solution to all financial problems. Raise the debt limit to 100 trillion dollars for this year and fund everything needed. Sound stupid and unworkable? So does a 17 trillion dollar debt.

St. Louis, MO

In the past, there were plenty of resources to help people in need. If somebody fell upon hard times, they could turn to family. If family was unable to help, there was the church or the community,and failing that, the local government. Since then, the family has been decaying at an alarming rate, fewer people go to church (and the current administration seems bent on stripping churches of whatever influence they still have), and there is precious little sense of community, with people sequestering themselves in their own homes to partake of the latest hot reality show on TV. Sadly, with all of these buffers either falling apart or rendered impotent, many people feel they have nowhere else to turn BUT the state or federal government. Until we truly become our brothers' (and sisters') keepers and shun this "every person for themselves" mentality that we tend to have,I fear that the government's reach will only extend deeper and wider. We need to weaken it by rendering it superfluous.

Eric Checketts
Mesa, AZ

Ultra Bob, I think you're right in your comments about government in it's different forms. All of those examples you gave would, in my mind, qualify as a form of government. And to your point about the "rules of government" not being posted, indeed they aren't. I think this is the crux of the libertarian message; we want people to understand principles of good government so they'll stop supporting the immoral actions of government in any form. The potential of a libertarian community is a very real one, but it depends on how well we do at spreading the message. And for now the liberty-loving community may be relatively small but it's growing like wildfire.

Huntsville, UT

Dangerous? IMO, this particular article and those who promote similar things are the true danger.

American Fork, UT

We can provide an effective, single payer health care system for everyone on less than what our piecemeal system costs us now. It would be the great american charity to one another, to not subject people to choose between treatment and financial catastrophe. It's greedy and conceited to think that an every man for himself system actually functions in delivering health care.

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