Should social problems be solved through government activity?

 Should social problems be solved through private actions and interests or through government activity?

by Shane Goodrich


Social norms guide our actions. Our view of the world shapes what we think is right and wrong. When it comes to current social issues, for example my personal views regarding things ranging from discrimination of transgender folks to drug addiction I tend to get along quite well with hard leftists, hippies and Bernie Sander supporters. I think everyone should be accorded respect, people should have no problem serving or dealing with the transgendered community and so forth. I want many social ills from racism to drug addiction to go away.

Where I tend to differ with these folks is how I want to get there. I want private action to be the motivating force. It’s difficult to force a belief system on someone. Forcing someone to treat people better often does not work. After the North won the civil war and Slavery was abolished across the nation the personal views of former southern slave owners did not magically change. They did not wake up one day in May of 1865 and think to themselves you know slaves really are people. Blacks and Whites are equal. No we got Jim Crow and the systematic mistreatment of blacks for another 100 plus years.

This leads me to another point, many social ills are caused by government laws in the first place. Slavery was legally sanctioned in the south, afterwards Jim Crow laws abounded in the region. Top-down solutions to social problems only tend to work when government activity is being curtailed. When it was bad laws perpetuating the problems in the first place. The protests of people like Dr. Martin Luther King brought light to the harsh realities of being a black person in the south (or really anywhere in the U.S) at that time. It was this bottom-up approach that helped change hearts and minds.  The government might put its stamp of approval on something and seem to help bring about social change but that tends to be after popular opinion has changed.  Marriage equality is a recent example of this. Until very recently even democrats on the national level were against gay marriage.  But once it become political viable as a position the pols jumped aboard the band wagon. Another similar issue in this regard is drug prohibition.

I think the drug war is a terrible immoral mess and that marijuana prohibition is especially absurd. Until very recently (when the popular opinion on legalization of recreational pot changed in this country) few politicians would advocate for legal weed. But now people are starting to “evolve” on the issue. Politicians are pandering to the masses, but most of them will have been behind the issue, not ahead of it. Social changes happens from the bottom-up not the top-down.

So Before we think about using the government to solve social problems can we at least stop the government from causing social problems in the first place?

Shane Goodrich Co-Host and Video Editor for Local Liberty


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