Today’s musing minute: Role of Government(s)


There are at least two ways to think about the role of government.

  1. To dispassionately safeguard and implement the rule of law equally for all individuals.
  2. To use the law (and if necessary change the law) to benefit those deemed worthy and/or those who can benefit the rulers.

The challenge of constitutional liberal democracy is to ensure the prevalence of 1. in the face of the compelling desire to act according to 2. As time goes by this becomes more difficult.

It seems to me only a very small minority of people think in terms of 1. and that everyone else has either never understood it that way or has cynically given up on it. Acting in terms of 2. means doing what you can to get the laws that benefit you (or that you want for whatever reason) and making sure that those who can and will do it for you stay in power forever. There is not much difference between this and the law of the jungle.

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