Role of government, safety nets and shark nets

The role of American government is to protect the interest of the owners of capital. There is nothing sinister about that; just read the nation’s history. Specifically, government does three things.

First, government protects one’s rate of return on capital. No taxes wherever possible. No unnecessary transfers of wealth between owners of capital and non-owners.

Second, and closely related to the first, is the protection of one’s liberty to pursue and accumulate capital; the pursuit of happiness. One has the liberty to engage in commerce as a producer and sell their goods and services in various markets with little or no interference by others in society who may attempt to extract value from one’s work either through fraud, theft, or taxes.

Finally, government must consistently maintain the doggy-bone for the masses. For those of us who do not have capital, we are intentionally distracted from acknowledging the deficiency by government. Government offers us “participation in the democratic process” via the vote, or a “bill of rights” that says nary a thing about your right to accumulate real capital. It also says nothing about your right to take another’s capital (fortunately).

Government-sponsored social programs are a reminder that our political economic system is not designed to maintain all of us, which is not to say that everyone is not capable of doing a Kate Winslet impersonation by clinging to a piece of wood after the Titanic sinks. Government, in its protector role, is concerned that those who do finally figure out how truly non-invested they are in American society will get so ticked as to attempt to tear down the economy, so it crafts a safety net of social programs to keep the have-nots afloat.

But is this the true role of the safety net. I don’t think so. Think instead of a shark net; one designed to keep the predators out. That’s the true meaning of the safety net. A tool implemented by the owners of capital to keep everyone else away from their capital.

Unfortunately, progressives have taken this negative aspect of government’s role and parlayed it into an industry. Either a a willing partner or naive participant, progressives have promoted the design and implementation of social programs that add meat to the shark’s net that owners of capital initiated.

It’s no wonder that cynics claim that the right and the left are in cahoots. Just go to any bar in Georgetown and you’ll have a hard time distinguishing the progressives wearing Armani suits from the conservatives wearing Armani suits.

All is not lost, however. We can unplug. Next time, I’ll provide a few tips.

About Alton Drew

Alton Drew brings a straight forward and insightful brand of political market intelligence. Alton Drew graduated from the Florida State University with a Bachelor of Science in economics and political science (1984); a Master of Public Administration (1993); and a Juris Doctor (1999). You can also follow Alton Drew on Twitter @altondrew.
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2 Responses to Role of government, safety nets and shark nets

  1. Ken Ciszewski says:

    ” Government, in its protector role, is concerned that those who do finally figure out how truly non-invested they are in American society will get so ticked as to attempt to tear down the economy, so it crafts a safety net of social programs to keep the have-nots afloat.”

    This is very much like the argument that Richard Wolff the economist made in is book about WSDEs (worker self directed enterprises)–after the Great Depression of 1929, there were the capitalists on one side, and the socialists/communists on the other side with FDR in the middle. FDR realized that unless he did something to moderate the exploitation caused by the capitalists, the communists/socialists might win the day and really put the clamp on business. He basically used that argument (it was almost a threat) to get the New Deal Policies enacted. Of course, capitalism really never liked them, and has been chipping and chiseling away at them every since.

  2. Ken Ciszewski says:

    I’m eager to hear more about this from you, Alton.

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