E.J. Dionne Jr. opens his Labor Day column for the Washington Post with a basic reflection:
Many conservatives and most libertarians argue that every new law or regulation means that government is adding to the sum total of oppression and reducing the freedom of individuals.
This way of looking at things greatly simplifies the political debate. Domestic issues are boiled down to the question of whether someone is “pro-government” or “anti-government.”
Alas for the over-simplifiers, it’s an approach that misreads the nature of the choices that regulators, politicians and citizens regularly face. It ignores that the market system itself could not exist without the rules that government establishes, beginning with statutes protecting private property and also the various measures against the use of force and fraud in business and individual transactions.
More important, it overlooks the ways in which the steps government takes often empower citizens and expand their rights. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the realm of work.
It’s Labor Day, so there is no required reading. Might I, then, strongly encourage Mr. Dionne’s holiday offering?
Image note: Hey, I’ve been there! ― McPoverty protesters outside Wendy’s restaurant on Lake City Way in Seattle on Thursday, Feb. 20. (Photo: Joshua McNichols/KUOW)
Dionne Jr., E. J. “The right question to ask about government”. The Washington Post. 6 September 2015.