Indeed, take what Trump is clamoring for: weaker government, less regulation, a more homogeneous society. In some sense, you find the ultimate extension of all that right here.
No regulation! No long lines at the D.M.V., because there is no D.M.V. in the conflict areas. In practice, no taxes or gun restrictions. No Obamacare. No minimum wage. No welfare state to breed dependency. No sticky rules about eminent domain. And certainly no immigration problem.
In a place that might seem an anti-government fantasy taken to an extreme, people desperately yearn for all the burdens of government and tolerance of social diversity that Americans gripe about.
One lesson of South Sudan is that government and regulations are like oxygen: You don’t appreciate them until they’re not there.
Two political scientists, Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson, argue that America’s achievements rest on a foundation of government services but that we Americans suffer from “American Amnesia” (that’s also the title of their book coming out this month) and don’t appreciate this.
“We are told that the United States got rich in spite of government, when the truth is closer to the opposite,” they write. Every country that journeyed from mass illiteracy and poverty to modernity and wealth did so, they note, because of government instruments that are now often scorned.
These instruments also create a sense of national identity that eclipses tribal identities, even if this process is still incomplete in America.
What we Americans excel at are our institutions. We have schools, laws, courts, police, regulators, bureaucracies, safety nets — arms of a government that is often frustrating but always indispensable. These institutions are the pillars of our standard of living.
From the perspective of a South Sudanese war zone, our greatest challenge isn’t big government or immigration, but the threat to those pillars from those who miscalculate our national strengths and weaknesses.
It’s odd that some conservative candidates should be so anti-government when an intellectual forerunner was Thomas Hobbes, the 17th-century philosopher who rightly warned that life in the natural state is “nasty, brutish and short.” Trump and Cruz would do well to remember his point:
Government, laws and taxes are a burden, indeed, but they are also the basis for civilization.
Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.