The Law of Identity is one of Aristotle’s fundamental Laws of Thought. It is expressed often in the terms of A=A or in other philosophical works as some variation of Marcus Aurelius’ admonishment to “ask of each and every thing what is it in itself”. This is less commentary than informal unscientific survey, but some of your answers will likely inform a future commentary. These questions kept hovering about as I considered the topic of the social compact. There seems to be a lot of confusion about the nature of the social compact model of government and that had been my intended topic for this weekend. However, as I thought about it and reviewed some older threads here where the subject had come up in preparation for addressing the subject, another area of confusion stood out as prevalent as well. That confusion centers around the proper role of government in society, specifically the proper role of government as defined by the U.S. Constitution.
If we look at the Constitution itself, the Preamble contains a basic description of the function of our Federal government.
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
It is important to note that the Preamble is not law in the traditional sense. It neither grants powers nor restricts action. It simply provides context for the purpose of the form of government as established in the following articles and amendments. It is a statement of our aspirational goals of government.
Let’s break down the Preamble to provide some context for the question that follows.
“We the People of the United States” we’ll take to be all natural born or naturalized individual citizens of the United States. Just people. We won’t address the the twisted logic of attempting to turn the legal fiction of the corporation into real people. If you weren’t born, don’t have a metabolism, aren’t made of meat and won’t die, we won’t consider you a person for the purposes of this discussion.
“[I]n Order to form a more perfect Union” we can consider both as a statement of quality and an aspiration considering the Founders included a process for Constitutional amendment in Article V. They knew that society and consequently societies definition of perfection would change over time and designed the Constitution to serve the citizens by being flexible enough to adapt to those changing definitions and needs.
“[E]stablish Justice”, not just through the creation of the Supreme Court and lower courts, but to pursue that ever elusive perfected justice where all wrong doers are held accountable for their bad actions and all victims are made as whole again as practically possible.
“[I]nsure domestic Tranquility” which entails more than just keeping the peace. This idea is intimately related to both the preceding the notion of establishing justice as a society with just laws and just courts is a society less likely to suffer social discord from people opting for “self-help justice”, but also to the subsequent notions as well. Providing for the common defense relates to domestic tranquility as a society that shares in protection from outside aggressors is less likely to be disrupted by invasion. Promoting the general welfare relates to domestic tranquility as a society that both tends to the commons as well as protects and aids its weakest members is less likely to suffer internally generated domestic social discord. Securing “the Blessings of Liberty” relates to domestic tranquility as a society that maximizes liberty will also face less discontent from the citizenry.
Consider that in many ways, mostly rooted in the corruption of the electoral and legislative processes by monied interests and their undue influence and the danger of the ever expanding unitary executive, our government has and is perpetually failing in their Constitutionally defined mission. We see regularly stories of injustice. We see regularly stories of not common defense, but wars of aggression and the erosion of our civil rights. We see regularly where the general welfare is sacrificed for the personal and corporate profits of the few. We see regularly stories where those in positions of power want us to sacrifice liberty in the name of security from a nebulous and overblown threat in a way that seems to be less about protecting citizens and our rights and more about their consolidation of personal political power and ability to stifle dissent and/or opposition.
Some Western countries penalize corporations for off shoring jobs. Some Western countries are not afraid to put bad acting previous pols on trail and/or in prison for their crimes. Some provide for post-secondary education either for free or minimal cost to their citizens. A great many provide universal health care as a basic human right.
The questions are simple although the answers may be complex.
NOTE: Any suggestions based on either Ayn Rand or the Austrian School of Economics will be laughed at and probably ridiculed as simply apologetics for the venal and sociopathic.
What do you think is the proper function of the U.S. government in itself given the context stated in the Preamble?
What do you think our government should be doing to achieve the goals stated in the Preamble that it isn’t doing right now?
What do you think our government should stop doing to achieve the goals stated in the Preamble?
~ submitted by Gene Howington, Guest Blogger.