I was once told that I shouldn’t be allowed to educate my children (if I ever have any) because the individual I was talking to disagreed with some of my beliefs. He said that the government should be in charge of teaching my kids because he can’t trust me to be able to do a good job of it. I wasn’t even talking about homeschooling; I was arguing that I would like to be able to choose which school my children went based on their curriculum.
We could spend time right now discussing the merits of school choice. We can discuss whether or not bureaucrats can properly determine what’s best for my personal life. Those are great topics, but I want to think about a broader topic right now: People tend to like government when it acts according to their system of beliefs, but what happens when your beliefs become outlawed? I feel like this thought never once crossed the mind of the person who told me that the government should educate my kids the way he saw fit.
So let’s say that I am a supporter of subsidies to green energy technologies. Currently, our government spends a lot of money on these types of programs and many people stand steadfast in support of them. I’m happy because my wishes are being fulfilled by the government. But what happens when a new government steps in and decides to cut those subsidy programs and give money to other energy programs that I don’t like? Essentially, I have to sleep in the bed that I’ve made.
We’ve given the government the power to define marriage. Now people want marriage to be redefined as to include gay marriage. But many of these same people don’t want marriage to include polygamy. So it’s fine to regulate marriage when it doesn’t affect you, but as soon as there are unfavorable impacts in your view, the government is acting improperly?
Many people push the government to raise taxes on the rich. You might get a certain administration and/or Congress to achieve this goal for you, so you’re happy. Since you’ve given the government the authority to distribute taxation levels among income or wealth levels, what happens if a newly elected government steps in and lowers the taxes on the rich and raises yours?
We have to acknowledge that what I think is best isn’t always what you think is best. To fix this disagreement should I then use force to make you act a certain way?
It is very easy to agree that it would be immoral for you to beat me up for eating chocolate ice cream instead of vanilla. So why isn’t it immoral to beat me up for not using your views on marriage? Or your views on taxes? Subsidies?
If a law were passed mandating that schools teach Creationism, the government threatens violence against those who do not follow that law. If the government gives tax breaks to a solar company and an oil company tries to use the same tax plans as the solar company, the government will threaten the oil company with violence. Flip any of these scenarios around in any direction and what you have is one entity threatening harm to another because one doesn’t like a certain aspect of the other’s life.
This isn’t just. Before you force your beliefs on someone else, think about what happens if they suddenly get the power to force their beliefs on you.