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The Government's Authority: Drawing a line

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by Curious George, Jun 25, 2019.

  1. Curious George

    Curious George Veteran Member

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    Can we draw a line by which we say a government authority ought to be limited? If so, where is that line? In the U.S. we have levels of scrutiny by which Court systems review whether a statute violates the government's authority as detailed by our constitutions (state and federal).

    For fundamental rights strict scrutiny is often involved. However, there are lesser degrees of scrutiny which courts employ based on the type of law, the people affected, and the rights affected.

    In addition to this we have some areas that are carved out as it was never the intent of the people to limit the government in regulation.

    I often hear, or see written, the notion that "your freedom to swing your arms ends where my nose begins." While this is pragmatic for conceptualization it is hardly coherent.

    Most would want some form of limitation. I want to know what your line is, how you rationalize it, and to discuss whether or not such lines are consistent.

    Some issues to consider: Vaccinations, guns, discrimination, abortion, freedom of speech, circumcision, freedom of religion.
     
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  2. joe1776

    joe1776 Well-Known Member

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    I think that ...

    how much power a government should have depends on whether it's competent or corrupt. If it's completely corrupt or incompetent, we should want it to be powerless. We should chuck it.

    If someday we invent a government that is superb at decision-making and completely free of corruption, then we want it to have whatever power it needs to implement its decisions.

    A society is a cooperative venture which requires that each citizen trade in individual rights for greater benefits. A good government will manage those rights so that the rights of individual citizens will be preserved as much as possible while maximizing the benefits to the group.
     
    #2 joe1776, Jun 25, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2019
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  3. bobhikes

    bobhikes Nowoligist
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    It depends on how peaceful you want life to be. When personal harm is perceived or actual the government needs to have final say whether the government is right or wrong for a peaceful society to exist. At least as peaceful as we can get. We would otherwise break into tribal groups enforcing our own rules for perceived and actual wrongs with constant skirmishes between groups causing many unnecessary deaths. Instead of people fighting each other with the current system they will fight the government.
     
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  4. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest Greased up & ready for action!
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    Governmental authority is a dynamic thing, changing over time due to influences
    of culture, fundamental law, & the living breathing creature of government itself.
    The only limit is how fast it can change. This varies with the nature of each factor
    listed above.

    Let's consider fundamental law....
    For Ameristan, it's the Constitution. I know of 3 philosophies to interpret it.
    1) Originalism, ie, reading both it & writings of the founders to discern original intent.
    2) Strict Constructionism, ie, reading it literally.
    3) Living Document, ie, it means what we want it to mean.

    #1 & #2 are slow to change because the Constitution specifies how it can be
    changed, & these methods are slow & cumbersome....by amendment & by
    constitutional conventioon.
    #3 can be fast, eg, by Supreme Court fiat.
    So there is no ultimate limit. There is only the limit on the rate of change.
     
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  5. Brickjectivity

    Brickjectivity Veteran Member
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    As you point out the authority to make laws must have a philosophical basis, but sometimes rights seem to bump into each other. I focus on the word 'Practice' that law is a practice not a system or confirmed eternal monolithic source of good and bad. For that reason the legal system should acknowledge that it is humble and makes mistakes.

    It reminds me of the problem of commonwealth states. In a commonwealth state its very difficult to convince the state that it can make mistakes. For example if the state paints the road wrong, causing accidents its hard to get the state to recognize that it is at fault in those accidents. Often the punitive systems are a lot more harsh in commonwealth states, too. Guilt is absolute if you are convicted.

    When we find ourselves arguing about rights versus rights it is evidence that the legal system has limited powers (as in limited capability), and we should recognize it as such.
     
  6. Curious George

    Curious George Veteran Member

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    But where should we draw the line prior to knowing whether it is corrupt or not. And what if it is somewhere between corrupt and "competent?"
     
  7. Curious George

    Curious George Veteran Member

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    The only limit to government authority ought to be how fast it can change?
     
  8. Curious George

    Curious George Veteran Member

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    Good thoughts, but i am not seeing a line.
     
  9. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest Greased up & ready for action!
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    I observe that is what we deal with.
    Absolute limits appear impossible.
     
  10. joe1776

    joe1776 Well-Known Member

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    If the government exists, one should be able to make an assessment of whether it's incompetent, corrupt or both. That doesn't mean we will all agree on what grade to give it.

    For example, as an American, I'd give my government a D and Denmark's a C. I don't give any existing government a grade higher than C because I think the best have yet to be invented.

    If social democrats were to take charge in the USA, I'd like them to have the power they need to raise us to a C.
     
  11. Curious George

    Curious George Veteran Member

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    This is where you believe the line ought to be drawn?
     
  12. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest Greased up & ready for action!
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    I don't get to draw the lines.
    So I only observe what they are.
     
  13. Curious George

    Curious George Veteran Member

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    That doesn't make much sense to me. You do not seem to have a rational criteria by which you "grade" governments.

    But assuming we are dealing with a C or D government, where should we draw the line?
     
  14. Curious George

    Curious George Veteran Member

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    Lol, so you expect me to believe you have no opinion?
     
  15. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest Greased up & ready for action!
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    I gave my opinion.
    I prefer the slow more deliberate changing of the Constitution as
    specified within, as opposed to the Living Document philosophy.
    If absolute limits are impossible, it would be senseless to prefer'm.

    You ask many loaded questions.
    What are you advocating?
     
  16. Curious George

    Curious George Veteran Member

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    I favor strict controls on government action. In most cases this would include imposing strict scrutiny when civil rights are involved, the exception would be for providing equal access to classes with immutable characteristics. I also favor transparency within government so I would also limit the government authority to shield its actions from the public.
     
  17. joe1776

    joe1776 Well-Known Member

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    I didn't give you my reasons because that would require a lengthy response that would take your thread off-topic.

    There's no way to answer your question because we don't have an accepted standard for measuring power. However, I told you that if social democrats took charge in the USA, I would want them to have the power to make the changes they want. So, that's an increase in the power that I now perceive in our government.
     
  18. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest Greased up & ready for action!
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    I observe that all governments change over time.
    What system of government do you believe will
    ensure those unchanging limits?
     
  19. joe1776

    joe1776 Well-Known Member

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    Who would decide what controls would be put on government? Would you add another branch? How would they enforce those controls?

    What specific measures would you take to make government more transparent?
     
  20. Curious George

    Curious George Veteran Member

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    You needn't worry about taking any of my threads off topic.
    So you want them to have unlimited power when they want what you do and no power when they want what you don't?
     
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