I don't mean to offend. It's probably going to happen anyway.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Political Ethics 2

Considering political ethics to be the means by which governing figures balance and carry out the responsibilities they have, the next logical point of study is what exactly those responsibilities are.

In terms of the social contract, the governed give up something in return for something, almost universally protection, and its subset of societal structure and welfare. The specific terms are highly variable, and will not be identical between neighboring households, let alone between Oregon and Florida. The specific ramifications of this will be discussed later.

One of the best places to look for this agreement is the US Constitution. The first sentence demonstrates it perfectly.
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessing of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Here we have a self-identified group, the People of the United States, agreeing to sacrifice some freedoms in return for a list of responsibilities that another group, the government as defined in the Constitution, has. To the people of the US, Justice, being here protection against other people (including the government) and redress of grievance, domestic Tranquility, being again protections from other people and from assorted other causes of societal disturbance, defense, in this case being against foreign powers both militarily and diplomatically, general Welfare, being a very general summation of the assorted duties of government in aiding societal function, and the Blessings of Liberty, being governmental guarantees of personal freedoms, are what the people of the United States thought government should be involved in in 1787.

What all this boils down to is that the government's responsibility is to uphold the terms of the social contract that it was created under. The particular nature of the protections vary from place to place, but government exists at the behest of the people, for the good of the people. As said here,
"The social contract exists so that everyone doesn't have to squat in the dust holding a spear to protect his woman and his meat all day every day. It does not exist so that the government can take your spear, your meat, and your woman because it knows better what to do with them."
Next week, how is all this broken, and how did it happen?

Apologies for missing a week, things got busy. Also, mondays are generally a better posting day, so that will probably be the schedule for a while.

1 comment:

  1. Politicians should have higher ethics than anyone else. See "Ceasar's Wife." I think the reason they appear to have no ethics at all is simply power. We have ceded such power to our government that they will do anything to maintain that power. We have allowed the citizen congress to morph into a group of professional politicians, and we have made running for congress so expensive that only the independently wealthy or those who can persuade others to part with their money can successfully run. Parting people from money usually means you have to give up something in return, and it's a lot easier to give up your ethics than it is to give up your power.


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