Another Example of the Prudence of Minimal Governmental Intervention

The outrageous tragedy at the Tree of Life Congregation synagogue in Pittsburgh on October 27, provides another example of the vital importance of governments, particularly at the national or international level, maintaining a “skinny agenda”.

It appears that his hysteria on the Immigration issue was the ultimate motivation of the unspeakable villain, Robert Bowers, in his evil attack at the synagogue.  Forming a conclusion that the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society was engaged in activities on the opposite side of the divide on the issue, he lashed out at innocents who he identified with it.  (This in no way implies any justification for his heinous actions but is only intended to provide the context for below perspective — as his psychopathic behavior was not inspired only by personal animus but by positions on public policy.)

The question of Immigration policy has of course been one of the most hotly-disputed current issues. It has inflamed people and occasioned excessive incendiary rhetoric on both sides of it. The polarization on the question has resulted in a constantly-spiraling descent in inflammatory rhetoric by both sides.  (At the risk of inspiring ire by paraphrasing POTUS’ inarticulate comments on the 2017 Charlottesville Virginia rancor, there are, in addition to good people, also bad people, on both sides of an issue.)  Certain people are deranged by this rancor.

On any issue there are discrete groups of people with contrary opinions.  On both sides one will find tiers of these groups, consisting of:

  • good people espousing rational arguments,
  • good people espousing irrational arguments,
  • bad people, and
  • evil people.

If an issue is sufficiently detached from immediate interest and impact on most people, the persons involved in expressing and effectuating an opinion on these issues will generally be only those upper tiers.  However, as the impact from it becomes more direct and significant, as well as the rhetoric surrounding it becoming more incendiary, then the lower tiers will begin emerging from the woodwork.  Then the threat of intense conflict and violence accelerates.

Wisdom and prescience are always in short supply.  The inability to accurately assess and evaluate an issue curses the vast majority of the decisions of everyone.  Therefore, maintaining flexibility and humility in formulating, expressing, and effectuating one’s opinions is of paramount importance; for the most confident anyone should be is that the contrary opinion of another may be the correct one.

Unfortunately, in the context of government, this is usually an impossible challenge.  Both historically and by theory the vast majority of decisions are decided by the will of a simple majority.  This necessarily then excludes a substantial portion of the people within its jurisdiction, and imposes a policy contrary to their opinion.  This policy will necessarily, proceeding from the decision by only a portion of imperfect persons, fail in attaining its intended objectives.

The more a government attempts to intervene in the regular activities of its citizens, the more intense will be the reaction of those who disagree with and oppose the policy.  Rancor will then result, and the tiers of bad people and evil people will swarm into the controversy.  Thus, the skinnier the agenda, the less likelihood of intervention in common activities and the inspiring of hostility by those affected.

Admittedly, Immigration policy might be a poor example upon which to base this characterization.  This policy is not only one that can only be determined and administered by a national government but is a basic function thereof — as well as one which was required to be performed not only by the current administration but by all previous ones.  Yet, if government had not intervened on many other issues that are justly outside of its jurisdiction — thereby introducing an environment of hostility and conflict — the impact and effect from the controversy on Immigration policy might have been minimal.  For the less a government causes irritation among its citizens, the less sensitive will they be to policies with which they disagree, and less susceptible to agitation by malefactors.

Thus, government structure, when conforming to this “skinny protocol”, can be envisioned as a pyramid, with the national government at the top pursuing the narrowest agenda, and downwards gradually expanding into broader agendas at lower levels, with the broadest being at the local level.  With local units that are, by chance or choice, more homogenous in their citizen composition, then even broad agendas will be unlikely to inspire hostility and conflict.

WAYNE A. SMITH
Sanilac County, Michigan USA
30 October 2018

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