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Parentalism By Government

Sunday, April 5th, 2009
Posted in Politics by Joel Gross

Parentalism is the fundamental logic used to support big government, socialism, communism, bailouts, Social Security, Medicare, public housing, farm subsidies, tarriffs, anti-immigration laws, anti-drug laws, Fascism, and many other programs in which the government intervenes into private life in situations where there are no specific rights to protect. Government parentalism is directly in opposition to individual choice.‚  Those who believe in individual choice try to limit government interference with private life as much as possible, while still allowing government to protect basic rights.‚  If you believe you can make a better decision on how to live your life and spend your money than either your actual parents or some government agent acting in their stead, you should oppose parentalism.

Most of the time people who believe in parentalism by the government won’t come out and say they do; in fact they may even say they oppose it.‚  However, recognizing arguments and beliefs based on parentalism isn’t difficult.‚  These arguments are based on giving certain people entitlements or trying to protect certain people from themselves.‚  For instance, anti-drug laws are designed to protect people from harming themselves by doing drugs.‚  Social Security is designed to give people a governmental safety net in their old age.‚  Fascism is designed to protect citizens from “threatening” outside forces, such as people of different ethnic groups.‚  Bailouts have been given recently in America to protect certain people from the supposed fallout of bankruptcy.‚  Public housing is supposed to protect people from homelessness.‚  And so on.

So what core belief must you hold in order to support parentalism by the government?‚  A parentalist believes that the individual is less able to make good decisions than the government is. Parentalists generally support big government.‚  Parentalists range from people who suport a mix of government services & the free market to those who flat out support socialism and communism.

Historically, governments based on parentalism have almost always badly mistreated their citizens and ended as miserable failures.‚  The Soviet Union, North Korea and Cuba are some modern examples of countries that made almost all decisions for their citizens and ended up deep in poverty and riddled by government corruption.‚  Governments based on free markets and individual choice on the other hand have been enormously successful: the United States, Japan and post WW2 Germany fall into this category.‚  Totalitarian governments are always based on parentalism & top down decision making and usually fail spectacularly and harm or kill many of their own citizens.

If parentalism has never been an effective form of government, why do people continue to use it to argue for a bigger government with more oversight?‚  I am not sure, but I think many people are unable to recognize that parentalism is the core belief behind dozens of different types of totalitarian governments: socialism, fascism, communism, dictatorships, monarchies, etc.‚  Parentalism is just the idea that people in the government should make decisions for people who are citizens.‚  The obvious flaw to this escapes the various supporters of parentalism: No one cares more about your welfare than you.‚  Especially not some randomly assigned government agent.