The Purpose of Government
I often reflect back on my first day of high school civics class. In the first five minutes the teacher wrote on the board "the purpose of government is to provide to its citizens services that they are not capable of providing themselves or are not motivated to provide as individual citizens." Examples he gave were military and various types of infrastructure. This also includes regulation and large scale crisis management. Adam Smith believed that the “invisible hand” of a free market would self regulate. I am generally a proponent of less government, but there are situations where citizens whether they are people or companies when left to their own device will not self regulate themselves. There are also times of crisis that require acts of courage and oversight to get citizens out of the crisis, because they cannot do it themselves. The invisible hand cannot overcome a crisis. The current financial crisis is just that. We can argue over the excesses and lapses of judgment that got us into this situation or we can correct it. I believe it is the government’s primary responsibility to get the financial system "unstuck". This is a crisis that the citizens cannot fix by themselves. At this point it is not productive to argue about how we got here.