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October 21, 2016 / 19 Tishri, 5777
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Rubin Reports: The Government is Not a Magic Box

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President Obama signing health care bill into law

President Obama signing health care bill into law
Photo Credit: Keith Ellison

By removing the real-world element of government, those who rule intellectually and politically in the current era blind people to the fact that society is out of balance. They attribute its problems to the lack of governmental power and regulation when the opposite is true.

Why do people fall for this? Indoctrination and misinformation is one cause. Yet the truth is that in the past government did have a bigger role to play in doing things like balancing powerful corporations, providing a social safety net, and doing needed tasks no one else could perform. But it’s not 1912 or even 1932 today.

Like any institution that becomes too powerful, government has turned from a helping hand to a strangling hold.  There are elements in its composition that make it especially dangerous in that regard. It is precisely the same problem as having overly powerful banks, corporations, military officers, or anything else. And the government’s victories come at the expense of  individual liberty.

A reasonable balance must be reestablished. You shouldn’t have to be a conservative to understand that reality.

Indeed, this is really a liberal conception. Liberals have opposed big government when it was very strong and conservative, especially in Europe. They complained of restrictions on rights, on the enforcement of morality, on the protection of the power of aristocrats, the church, and others. A lot of the battle today is based not on philosophical principle but simply on the use of a controlled institution to give one’s own faction more power, money, and the ability to implement its own agenda.

Only now that liberals –or, more properly, the left– controls governmnt the position has turned around 180 degrees.

To view government as a form of deity or an inevitable friend of the poor and downtrodden is an illusion. Government is not a magic box but a can of worms. To see it as a player, with its own interests, that should be as distrusted as any bank or corporation is the purest form of common sense, the very triumph of common sense over ideology and dogma that made America great, its people free, and real democracy possible.

Barry Rubin

About the Author: Professor Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. See the GLORIA/MERIA site at www.gloria-center.org.

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