Governments do some things well and they do some things not so well. While at the FAMiLY Leader Conference on Friday July 16th I started thinking about this and wondered how many people would agree or disagree with me. Our Founding Fathers thought government has some specific things to do and among those were to protect the people from physical harm, protect people’s rights, and protect people from government.
Government has been taking on more and more “tasks” of late and so I started wondering what government is good at and what is government bad at. Many times, people want the government to do something, and it turns out that government is just not good at certain things. For instance, governments for thousands of years have been trying to eliminate the following: poverty, drug abuse, domestic violence, homelessness, and other social issues. The problem is that government is just not good at doing those things. Each instance of these things is different, and government must operate at such a scale that it develops cookie-cutter solutions to an individual problem.
Government, on the other hand, is good at defense, collecting taxes, maintaining records, setting ordinances and zoning, and other things that demand a cookie-cutter approach to fulfill the requirements.
Why is it then, when we determine that government is not good at certain things, do we want to continue to have governments try to defeat these things? Lets talk about poverty, for example. Governments have been fighting poverty for centuries. It is a noble and just cause and certainly no one can be faulted for trying to end poverty, which brings about hunger, disease, and multitude of other negative issues. Why then has poverty not been defeated?
Even in our own country, we had/have the war on poverty and the Great New Deal, which brought about many social programs and “safeguards” that were intended to defeat poverty, why do we still have it? Maybe I am overthinking these issues as having traveled to many third-world countries, I know for a fact that our “poor” are vastly more well-off than in other places in the world.
I come back to the question of why do we expect government to do things that it is not good at? I for one am not a person who feels that government is the end-all. I believe in personal reliance and responsibility and that the government, when left to its own merits, will consistently overstep its bounds.
If government is not good at things, why not ask entities who are good at those things to step in and fill the voids? So, I will step on toes here when I ask who is good at the war on poverty, fighting the abuse of drugs, fighting domestic abuse, foster care, adoption, homelessness, and many other social issues and why aren’t they doing it? I believe that churches, neighborhood organizations, locally supported food pantries, service organizations and other connected to the people organizations are good at tackling these issues at the individual and local level.
I don’t think we should rely or look to the government to do these things but instead look to the local church who can respond faster, with greater specificity, and will hold the individual to accountability much more reliably than the nameless and faceless government entity who can’t know each person on an individual basis. What has happened, in my opinion, is that churches have become lazy in the fact that they rely on the government to do the job the Church should be doing.
It is time for the Church to step up and take the role that God meant it to take and that will be tough because of the complacency that has taken place over the last 70 years. We will see much better results when neighbors help neighbors in all these social issues. Will it take a resurgence in faith to do this? I don’t know but I am willing to give it a try. Our Constitution doesn’t require government to do the social programs that it does, and it isn’t good at it so let’s try something new.