So, in a different forum, I was making the point that I find it contradictory that there are many people who claim to be anti big governement, but also want to give government the power to control a woman's ability to have an abortion, or a man/woman's ability to marry someone of the same gender. When is it "appropriate" for government to control people's actions and when isn't it? There are honestly issues from both sides of the political fence that shouldn't be left up to government to decide. What's your say in the matter?
Rather it is democracy or the not, It is the people wish to decide their matters whatever else they want to do. In the broader sense they must read the Democracy definition before to thrust the orders
The government has no role in these domains, except if you simultaneously hold the view that life begins at conception and government should exist to protect natural rights. Therefore one could argue that the government has the right to prevent abortions, except in instances where the mother's life is in danger. My first instinct is to get government out of personal decisions, but I think it is too easy to dismiss the rights of the future person. It sets a dangerous precedent.
So this is one issue I'm undecided on.
What I'm fascinated by is the people who scream "I'm pro-choice!" are often opposed to a great many choices left to the individual, like the right to consume whatever they want, right to work, right to choose education, right to choose whether to have health insurance or not and just plain freedom of speech.
George Zimmerman's life was not in danger when he killed Trayvon Martin. Yet the people who defended Zimmerman are the same people who claim to be pro-life. They are also the same people who think healthcare and education should only be accessible to those who can pay for it themselves. You say I should be able to choose if I want healthcare. What is the good of telling me I can choose to lie down when you know I can't afford to stand up?
You are asking for an opinion on government's job in this country, or so it seems to me. Very well, govt. has two primary tasks:
1. Protect individual citizens from each other, maintaining individual freedoms to the maximum extent possible while doing so. This includes police protection and laws such as drunk driving, workplace safety and other things affecting individual citizens.
2. Maintain the viability of the country as an entity. This includes such things as the military, certain infrastructure and a legal system.
It does NOT include the promotion of any particular religious morality system, It does NOT include protecting an individual from themselves. It does NOT include redistribution of wealth.
In the specific instances you asked about, govt. may address abortion, but only to the extent of protecting another person (the infant) from being killed, and that protection necessarily depends on a definition of what a person is. As that definition is an artificial declaration and individual members cannot agree, govt. must step in and provide a definition.
Govt. has no business whatsoever "protecting" other individuals (or society itself) from the terrible religious evil and immorality of gay marriage.
I agree with this to an extent. But I wonder, is there no scientific definition of personhood? Certainly, zygotes and embryos that don't even develop male/female characteristics before the 14th week of gestation are not persons. Why should we put the emotionally charged political opinions on the same level with science, then call the government in to arbitrate?
Science makes definitions all the time, and that's fine as definitions are necessary for communication, but in this case the definition will be used to control other lives and science does not have the ability or right to make that kind of definition. Communication is secondary to the moral and ethical results of the definition.
That is the prerogative of society in general and, in this case, government in particular. If we leave it to individuals, letting everyone make their own definition, we see such things as murder of surgeons and bombing of abortion clinics. Only a consensus, a cooperative compromise, can produce a definition that everyone (except the radical fringes - they will never accept anything but their own personal belief) can accept and use.
That's what government is at least supposed to do; produce a cooperative compromise that all can live with. Ours isn't doing that anymore, because it's broken, but that's what it's supposed to do.
Very true. Science does not deal with morality but with facts. But what good is morality that is not based on facts. That is basically what we have now, morality that is based on emotional interpretations of religious texts.
Isn't it the radical fringe who are doing the murdering and bombing? Row vs. Wade was born out of a highly emotional even: tthe discovery by children of the corpse of a woman who died from a bootleg abortion. Then a movement began. But like most movements, they slid right past the center, running pell mell to the other extreme: partial birth abortions.
Government can help us get recentered if we stop equating extremism with sincerity and moderation with oppression.
Morality is of great value without facts. What is the fact behind "thou shalt not kill", or "thou shalt not steal"? Both religious based but what are the facts behind them? Science, except perhaps for psychology, just doesn't deal with these things.
It is absolutely the fringe that is doing the bombings and murders, but they are quite sincere. They are willing to give their freedom and perhaps life to promote their views - that's sincerity beyond what most people have. They also declare (with utmost sincerity) that their, and only their, views are correct without a shred of evidence (read "fact" here) to back it up and few people will accept that unless it agrees with their notions.
Moderation is not oppression, however, and we DO need to understand and accept that.
It's possible to be sincerely wrong. It's possible to be sincerely deluded. Given a choice between a half-hearted kiss and a sincere punch in the face, I'd probably go for the former:)
"Thou shalt not kill" makes no sense without facts. What am I not supposed to kill?Am I breaking the commandment when I kill insects? Am I only not supposed to kill mammals? Primates? Humans? When does a fetus graduate from being a mass of cells with no gender characteristics to being a viable person? That is a question that science can answer and these answers are the facts that determine whether I am breaking a code of morality or following an emotional sentiment.
Yes, it is certainly possible to be sincerely wrong. All the sincerity in the world won't make a wrong become right.
But, Rhonda, science can't determine when a mass of cells is a person. Even if we claim it must be viable to be a person, what does "viable" mean?
Survival outside the womb without help? That won't happen for another decade or two. Even if we say viable means survival if someone feeds the infant and cares for it that's still just an artificial definition and science can't always tell anyway. What about an infant with a bad heart murmur? Is it then non-human? Or one with some other condition that needs immediate intervention - non-human and thus disposable at the parents request?
If science could make that determination - what "viable" means - it is still a philosophical definition that others do not agree with. Including me - a 7 or 8 month fetus is usually viable only with massive hospital intervention but it is human in my opinion whether in the womb or out. Location does not determine "humanness" IMHO.
Government has provided an acceptable definition, at least as far as I am concerned, by declaring that abortion prior to 3 months is destruction of a cellular mass; after that it is murder of a person. Yes, it's gray and there are exceptions where a older fetus is still killed without it being murder, but I can accept those cases as well. Science cannot make such a determination as there are no facts at all - just opinion and that is not the field of science. Government made it, and that is the field that it specializes in - making opinions into acceptable social definitions and determinations.
So you are saying the government just arbitrarily chose 3 months as the cut off date for abortion without recourse to scientific knowledge about the development of the fetus?
Mostly, yes. The development of the fetus certainly played a part, but was not the determining factor. That was decided by a compromise that left neither side really happy but was acceptable to both (ignoring the zealots on both sides, of course).
It certainly had nothing to do with the viability of the fetus outside the womb; I've never heard of a 3 month fetus being delivered and still survive.
I wasn't present in those debates of course, and can't truly speak for what the debaters were thinking, but it seems apparent to me that the 3 month age was a compromise. As with all compromises, facts and science make their case but then leave the room while society makes a determination that all can live with rather than looking at what science provides. Opinions and a willingness to compromise mattered more than actual facts.
Thank you wilderness. I found this to be very informative and specific. It helps me to understand government's role more clearly. (Btw you changed your photo!)
But here's my question. When it comes to defining the different roles, how does one know where to draw the line?
Regarding the redistribution of wealth, if it helps (I'm not saying does as I'm fairly ignorant about how the economy works, I'm saying that if helping is the motive) the nation as an entity to get back into a state of financial stability, does it not enter into the governement's territory? Why or why not?
Yes, my cute little grandson is gone. But not forgotten - a printed picture is taped onto my computer desk.
Drawing the line is the key isn't it? Nothing is black and white but always gray and therein is the problem. The line location is the determination of the population and must be agreed to by consensus.
IMO, one key is the term "maximum" as in maintaining individual freedom. Many disagree, wanting ever more government interference into otherwise private matters - wealth re-distribution is one such area. The massive polarization of American populace in the recent election is the result of everyone being stuck pretty far from center on this very basic determination of governmental roles today, with neither side willing to give an inch.
Assuming your use of the word "help" refers to helping individuals survive (welfare programs of one kind or another), that is always the given reason for wealth redistribution. It is usually a spin more than anything, a fabrication that the ones getting the "help" actually need it. Today, we see more and more that the redistribution is to give "help" in the form of luxuries that are totally unnecessary for life, or what many would consider even a "reasonable" lifestyle just a few years ago.
There is always a disagreement on how to force an economy into recovery as well; those wanting redistribution will always require that the "rich" pick up the cost, while those in opposition will always claim that the rich need more money to accomplish the goal (trickle down theory). Both are right, of course, just as both are wrong - specific areas and functions of the economy require different solutions. Nevertheless, it is the government's task in either case to provide the solution and effect the change, or least kick start it. It is a very important part of what makes a country, and it is very much in the interest of the country as a whole to maintain a vibrant economy.
AThousandwords: You make a good point. Being for and against something at the same time is really a good definition of insanity. Why try and argue a point with people who literally believe abuse is a necessary evil of living?
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