General Welfare & The Role of Government

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General Welfare & The Role of Government

Post by Ambrose Didymus on Mon Apr 27, 2009 11:28 pm

I am releasing this article in 5 parts on eRepublik, but here is the full text in case anyone gets interested.

Each republik in The New World is made up of citizens with their individual beliefs, desires and intentions.

Some want to become successful businessmen, others simply want to entertain or enlighten their fellow citizens and others still aim to become great military fighters.

The citizens who take part in the political process are elected to promote the General Welfare of their fellow citizens. This is a noble goal, however attempting to implement this simple objective is more difficult than any other in this virtual world. The result of which is often petty bickering over ideological differences.

The General Welfare
A solid definition of this term is the key to solving many of the policy issues which congressman face every day in eRepublik.

Some sort of base is required - a key point to help clarify the fairest way in which a government can promote the general welfare of all citizens.

The word "general" actually means to apply to the whole (as opposed to applying to one particular group), so with this in mind, the General Welfare can be defined as acts that help citizens without harm or discrimination against any others.

What then are the consequences of this definition for good governance in eRepublik?

It could be argued that this means government should never tax it's citizens. After all, taxation forces citizens to donate money to the government treasury and taking a citizen's property by force is a form of harm isn't it?

While eRepublik does allows for no taxation (Setting taxation levels to 0%), there are factors in The New World that can prevent this ideal from becoming a reality.

For instance, the prospect of military take over by another republik is a very real threat, and governments are wise to maintain a well-organised military or to establish hospitals or to sign agreements with other nations.

Prudent governments could still fund these projects with no domestic taxation. Import tax could be raised to a point which contributed funds to government coffers, but wasn't so high as to discourage foreign investment. This would still fulfill our General Welfare definition, as it wouldn't be harming any local citizens. Coupled with donations by private individuals/organisations, this could be a way to pay for some of these projects.

In reality, many of these projects require substantial funds and are often required to be carried out concurrently. In these cases domestic taxation is unfortunately required.

So how can we reconcile these two conflicting viewpoints?

On one hand we don't want to force citizens to contribute money via taxation, but on the other we need money for projects that will keep these same citizens safe.

Consequences of The General Welfare Definition

With threats to general welfare of citizens in mind, it falls upon congress, and all those who elect congressmen into power to ensure every proposal that coerces a republik's own citizens to pay more taxes fall within a system of proper oversight.

There are three things to look for in every proposal which attempts to appropriate funds from the people:

- The proposal should be clearly defined by congress or the president
- The proposal should be assigned a cost
- The proposal should be assigned a due date

The due date is the most important of these three elements.

It provides congress with an opportunity to reconsider the nature of a proposal sometime in the future. At this time, congress can decide whether to:

- remove the taxes if the proposal's goal is complete or no longer a priority
- raise taxes if more money is required or has become more urgent
- mantain the current taxation rate if more work is still required

Ideally this due date should not last for more than a single mandate, so a proposal can be considered by two different parliaments.

The Role of Community

As mentioned in the Introduction, each citizen has their own beliefs, desires and intentions. One such intention that is common to the majority of citizens in The New World is "to help fellow citizens".

Offers to gift fellow citizens, offer free food, donate money or simply provide helpful advise are everyday occurances in The New World.

It is this aspect of a republik which ultimately makes our eLives worth living. And it is this aspect that poorly governed regions often fail to appreciate.

This is because Government tends to regulate and formalise this process, reducing the incentive that individuals have to help their fellow citizens. After all, why bother helping someone out if the government will do it anyway?

Government usually tackles these issues in two ways:

1) The creation of a Minister of Education (or equivalent) is one of the best ways government can promote a community. Centralising articles, discussions, tutorials and knowledge in general allows new citizens to feel part of a community sooner and a republik that does this successfully is likely to retain more citizens and develop a healthy, caring culture.

2) The creation of a Minister of Internal Affairs (or equivalent) is one the worst ways government can promote a community. Programs which provide gifts, food, jobs may seem like a nice thing to do, but these are always paid for through taxation. Taking from one citizen and playing favourites by giving to another citizen is clearly theft. If any individual citizen or organisation did this, they would be banned, so why can a government do it? It is clearly a violation of our definition of the general welfare.

Governments which engage in activities described in the second point above are well advised to reduce the tax burden on their citizens rather then pay for these programs themselves. Let individual citizens determine how they spend their money.

In short time, you will find that caring individuals will band together and create a charities organisations to help citizens in need. You will find that without the taxation burden, companies will be created more readily providing jobs. You will find that citizens will be helping each other because they want to, not because they are forced to.

This can only help a community to develop and is consistent with our theme of general welfare.

I acknowledge that this series presents a case against so-called "left-leaning" governments, which tend to tax citizens highly in the name of "general welfare" without considering the unintended consequences of these actions.

Instead of disregarding this article based on your ideological opinion, I ask simply that when you become a congressman, president or are simply calling for your elected officials to be more accountable, do not base your opinion on a left ideal, a centrist thought, a communist ideology or a free-market heuristic.

Base your opinion on your own beliefs, desires and intentions and consider the following question when making crucial descisions that can impact on other citizens:

"Will my actions unfairly harm any of my fellow citizens?"

Thanks for reading.

Ambrose Didymus
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Re: General Welfare & The Role of Government

Post by nishchay on Tue Apr 28, 2009 3:20 am

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Re: General Welfare & The Role of Government

Post by ArjaaAineZ on Wed Apr 29, 2009 6:02 am

great article as always dude.. good read

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