Saturday, April 6, 2013

A Weird Phenomenon

Has anyone else noticed that a lot of people seem perfectly content with saying the State should use fiscal policy, monetary policy, social safety net programs, etc. as a way of satisfying justice and an inherent moral obligation towards its citizens and God, but that this obligation does not and cannot reach into any non-economic sphere?

We need food stamps, easy credit, the EITC, and so on and so forth because it's "fair," it's "social justice," or whatever, and that's great and non-controversial.

However, the idea that the State could intervene to limit access to pornography, contraception, divorce, or anything that isn't purely economic is received with utter contempt and horror.

Who arbitrarily limited the State's duty to the realm of the pocketbook? Or that "doing the right thing" is only a matter of dollars and cents?

It's weird.


Brian said...

Interesting. But there are plenty of non-economic needs and problems (or not-wholly-economic needs and problems) that many people, including liberals, want government to be somewhat activist in addressing: terrorism, violent crime, child abuse (including child pornography), substance abuse and mental illness, medical research, food safety and other public health issues, unsafe labor conditions, educational issues, civil rights, and what have you.

The desire for an activist, helping government is always in tension with the desire for freedom from government. For example, a couple may be happy to have the government fund marriage counseling services, but may not want the government to take charge of deciding whether continuing their marriage is good for them and their children.

It's similar on the economic front, where services for the poor are more popular than the taxes needed to fund such services. Both economically and otherwise, there's a need for some kind of a balance between anarchy and the much-feared "nanny state."

Throwback said...

There are absolutely lots of things that are mentioned as desirable. I'd suggest that these are often fragmented and without wholesale support in a single direction in the way that economic policy seems to be.