Modern governments are full salvation providers.
Roman emperors took the title saviour, but for them it was just a title. They looked after their loyal elite, but treated the ordinary people as slaves.
The modern government does not take the title saviour, but it has taken over the role by promising to solve every problem that arises. Modern state salvation includes education, healthcare, roads, poverty, crime and defence. In each of these spheres of life, the state provides only very average salvation and not surprisingly, it sometimes treats people as slaves.
Jesus claimed the title saviour by dying on the cross and rising from the dead. He proved that he was saviour by healing the sick, casting out demons and raising the dead. Unfortunately his people do not understand the scope and substance of this salvation. God's salvation is better than anything than the state can provide.
To Tell Them What to Do?
There are several answers to this question. Most of them show that we are foolish to trust in human government and confirm that it is unnecessary.
Some people believe that we need someone to tell us what to do.
Children sometimes need some to tell them what to do, but generally they have parents for this purpose.
Most adults do not need someone to tell them what to do. Most of us prefer to make our own mistakes. Anyway free wisdom is plentiful in this world. There are plenty of people that we can ask for advice, if we need it.
Christians have God to show them what to do, so they need human government for this reason, least of all.
Governments throughout the world are saving their people from sickness by spending more and more and more on health care. The problem is that sickness came into the world through sin, so dealing with the cause of sin is the key to healing sickness. Turning back the curse of sin is an impossible task for the state. When one sickness or disease is cured, another that is worse pops up in its place. Governments will always fail to deal with sickness, because they are unwilling to deal with sin, the cause of sickness.
Modern health technology is so incredibly expensive that health budgets are "blowing out". As aging populations make this problem worse, rationing will be needed. Governments will be unable afford every treatment that is available for its citizens.
Compulsory funding of health care is morally wrong. If I choose to pay for the healthcare of another person, that is fine. However, the government does not have authority to make one person pay for another person's healthcare. Taking money without consent is theft.
The only effective solution to sickness is the cross of Jesus, because it dealt with sin and removed the cause of sickness. The gift of healing is God's solution to sickness. It works, because it rolls back the curse.
The state also struggles with education and generally turns out mediocrity and failure.
God has given parents responsibility for educating their children. (Deut 6:6,7). They are free to delegate that responsibility to schools with teachers that they trust. If parents are paying for the cost, they will choose quality education for their children.
When the state controls education, it inevitably becomes more and more secular. Politicians will generally be unable to agree on religious and moral values, so they will settle for secular education. State funded education is generally compulsory, so a world view that is hostile to God is foisted onto Christian families.
When parents fund and control the education of their children, they can teach their children within a theistic world view.
State education uses a factory system. I cannot understand why ayone would want to put a thousand teenage boys together in one place. Parents-controlled education will be radically different. Young adults are capable of work, so their education will take place within a work environment that provides interaction with adults of all ages.
Modern information technology has eliminated the need for teachers to pass information on to their students. Teachers will become tutors who show their students how to find and assess information. They will teach them how to communicate and present information in effective ways.
Some people believe that we need the government to care for us if we fall into poverty. This is a false hope. The state will never resolve poverty, because its solutions create dependence. Governments have put enormous resource into caring for the poor, but their efforts have tended to increase the extent of poverty in the world. Despite 70 years of increasing taxation and hundreds of new social welfare programmes during a period of unprecedented economic growth, the state has failed to solve poverty.
A solution that has failed so consistently should be rejected. We should avoid solutions that take a large share of income to do something so ineffective.
A variety of options are available to people who fear falling into poverty.
- Insurance allows people to share the risk of irregular events.
- Insurance allows people choose the level of risks from which they want protection.
- Families should provide for those in poverty.
- Deacons in the church will often help those who are poor.
- Belonging to a caring community is a good option.
- Someone might feel sorry for you.
Many governments now provide housing for the poor. There are two problems with the state taking this role.
There is no shortage of people wanting to invest in housing, whereas the state is always short of capital. Instead of wasting its capital on housing, the state should leaving house to the many people who want to invest in housing.
here is a problem of what to do when the recipients of state housing no longer need help. If they are allowed to continue to live on in their state-owned residences, most state housing will be wasted on people who no longer need it. If they are forced out into private housing, they will be given an economic shock, just as they are getting back onto their feet.
It is always better to help people in privately owned housing as they can then stay on as long as they choose.
Most people believe that we need the government to make laws.
Laws can restrain the worst evil, but that is all. There are more than enough laws in the world, and many are ignored. I doubt that we gain much from inviting politicians to make more laws.
Protection from Violence
Many people want the government to protect them from violence. However, a variety of options are open to those who feel vulnerable to attack.
- Staying inside at night and only going out when it is safe.
- Learning a martial art.
- Paying protection money to a local gang.
- Employing a personal body guard.
- Staying close to a group of people you trust. This is the cheapest option.
The civil government is a poor option, because the police do not undertake to provide protection for individual people. Their only commitment is to catch people who assault others and fine them.
The worst offenders will be put in prison for a time. The existence of the police may discourage people from being violent and may take the more violent people out of circulation. This may assist others, but it does not help the person who is being assaulted. Even if a person being threatened is able to call the police, they are unlikely to arrive in time to prevent an assault occurring.
Those who want government for protection from violence are likely to be disappointed.
Protection from Theft
Several options are available to those who are worried about their property being stolen.
- Giving possessions away to the poor.
- Placing all valuables in a band for security.
- Employing a personal body guard.
- Purchasing insurance against theft.
- Putting locks on all doors and gates.
- Living in a community of people who are honest.
The civil government does not protect our property, because the police will only act after a theft has occurred. If they catch the thief, he will be fined, but the stolen goods will not necessarily be returned.
The modern state claims responsibility, but it is not really interested in solving crime. Despite enormous advances in technology, crime is now worse than it was fifty years ago. A crime will often be too small to justify using police resources for an investigation and prosecution. Police avoid crimes they consider to be insignificant, but every crime is significant to its victim.
Justice from Theives
Most people who have something stolen expect two things to happen.
- They expect the stolen goods to be returned.
- They expect the thief to get sufficient penalty to stop them from stealing again.
Civil government cannot be counted on to do either of these things. The fines collected by the justice system go to the government. The victim only rarely receives financial compensation for their troubles. This is that this is now accepted as normal.
When criminals are caught, they are locked up in prisons. More and more people are being locked up, but very few are being rehabilitated. Putting people in prison is another expensive solution that does not work. The cost is paid by taxpayers, so prison punishes the victims a second time.
Some people believe that the state will defend them from war. There are several ways of getting defence from invaders.
- Local communities can form militias, so they can defend themselves.
- Communities could employ mercenaries to defend them. The Vatican City has relied on Swiss guards for hundreds of years.
The government is just one method of getting defence and it is not a very good one.
The modern state is not seriously interested in protecting people. Defence forces plan to protect their capital city and military bases, but the rest of the country is expendable.
Many governments are reluctant to spend money on defence, as there are very few votes to be obtained from better armed forces. The state only defends those who support it and any innocent people are harassed by the state.
The reverse problem is that the modern state also tends to be over-ambitious at getting into unnecessary wars, so we should be cautious about giving governments this power.
Temporary military commanders are a safer method of defence.
Infectious diseases are another form of external attack, so biosecurity is a big issue for modern governments. The Bible teaches that biosecurity problems are the consequence of sin. They are the first step down a path that leads to invasion, as God sends a biological army, before he sends a human army.
The LORD will strike you with wasting disease, with fever and inflammation, with scorching heat and drought, with blight and mildew, which will plague you until you perish.
The LORD will cause you to be defeated before your enemies. You will come at them from one direction but flee from them in seven, and you will become a thing of horror to all the kingdoms on earth. (Deut 28:22,25).
The solution to biosecurity problems is to obey God's law. If a nation rejects God, then no biosecurity measures can protect its border from biological invasion.
Modern governments control entry to their country. The biblical approach is different. Anyone is free to enter the country and refugees are welcomed. However, migrants can only enter a country, if they can find a community that is willing to receive them. People who do not love Jesus will generally want to live among Christian communities.
Running the Economy
Even if the economy does need running (and that is not proved), the evidence that governments can run an economy successfully is fairly sparse. There are plenty of counter examples of government stuffing things up. Those in power usually end up lining their pockets at the expense of their people.
According to the book of Deuteronomy the state of the economy fluctuates according to the righteousness of the people. A decline in the economy is a warning to turn Back to God. By attempting to prevent economic downturns, the state is attempting to hold back the tide of sin. In the end it will fail.
Rather than relying on the government to boost the economy is unnecessary. It is easier and more effective to love God.
Controlling the Money Supply
Many people believe that someone in authority must control the supply of money. Governments usually believe that they are the ones with the necessary wisdom. They believe they should manage the money supply through the operations of a central bank.
Most governments now realise that they cannot control the supply of money, and the best that they can do is set interest rates. But even this is too much for them. Interest rates reflect the value that people place on the future. A central banker can never know the future, so we should not trust then to set its price. The chances of a political appointee getting the price of the future right is even less, given that only God knows the future. Governments generally set the interest rate too high or too low.
Central banks did not exist before the beginning of the twentieth century, and economies functioned just as well as they do now. This role is rooted in a false understanding of the way that money works. All that is required to prevent the manipulation of the money supply is punishment of fraud and theft.
The modern state has an immense and complicated apparatus for collection and spending funds taken from citizens. If the state were to cease providing salvation, tax collection would be unnecessary. Contributions to the cost of justice and defence should be Voluntary Taxation.
Governments have no need to be in the business of radio and television broadcasting. Private groups already provide these services, so there is no need to use taxpayer's money for entertainment. Public broadcasting can easily be used for manipulation and state propaganda.
Some people believe that we need the government to build roads and highways.
We tend to forget that most new streets in a city are built by property developers, as they open up new subdivisions. These new streets are handed over to the care of local government. The new streets are generally well built, but the quality of maintenance by city councils is variable.
Most new roads and highways are built by private contractors. The government maintains roads that have been built by others. Roads are often not maintained as well as they were built, so this does not inspire confidence in government.
Some argue that we need to government to pay for roads. The problems with government funded roading are evident in every large city. Whenever the price of a good or service is set to zero, demand escalates. People have to queue to get the good or service. In the Soviet Union the price of bread was set too low, so there was not enough bread available to supply needs. Queues for bread were common.
In most large cities, the price for travelling on many highways has been set to zero. The result is that many people are queuing to use the highway. We call this traffic congestion, but it is really just a queue for a government-provided service for which the price has been set to low. The economic phenomenon is no different to the bread queue in the Soviet Union.
Highways can be built for by private companies and paid for by tolls. Private companies have to build the roads that will be used, before they can collect any tolls. Governments collect the money before they build any roads and then often do not build them at all. Paying for a service before it is delivered is not a good practice.
Most residents have no control over the standard of services provided to their streets. They just have to accept what the politicians decide to provide. Residents have no control over what rubbish collection services they receive, because they are a political issue. When the government gets involved, freedom to pay for a chosen level of service goes out the window. Governments always work on principle of one size fits all.
The modern government establishes a Building Code that sets the standard for all buildings. There are four reasons why building codes do not work.
The government does not know enough to set a code that will cover materials in all situations. New Zealand has thousands of "leaky homes" that complied with the building code when they were built. The building code has been modified to prevent this problem occurring. This has dramatically increased cost of complying, but it will not prevent the next problem from occurring.
Builders, engineers and architects focus on complying with the code and stop thinking about quality the buildings they construct. They are the ones who determine the quality of a building, so the owner really wants them to be thinking about quality, and not just doing the minimum to comply with the building code.
Manufactures of building materials can void warranty on new materials once they get approval by the building code. They focus on complying with the code, rather than taking responsibility for the quality of their products.
The owner of a building is given a false sense of security. They will end up being liable for most problems with a building, despite the building code. If they were more aware of this responsibility, they would be more careful about buying or constructing a building. They would protect themselves by paying an expert to check out the building before taking on a liability. They would make sure they have good documentation about the quality of the building for when they want to sell it.
In most aspects of life, liability and authority go together. The building code splits these apart. The government takes authority and tells people what they must do, but it refuses to pay if things go wrong. Building owners are liable for any problems, so they should be given authority to make decisions about the quality of their buildings.
It is always better to help people in privately owned housing as they can then stay on as long as they choose.
Car owners are forced to get a mechanical check on their car twice a year. The check required is specified by the state. As usual, the state sets the standard, but takes no accountability for consequences. The result is that car owners focus on the test and do the minimum maintenance necessary to pass the test.
If the state got out of car maintenance, people would take more responsibility for their safety. People who harm others through failure to maintain their cars would be liable for the full financial consequences. This would force most people into maintaining their cars well.
Owners of roads may require a standard of fitness to protect their other clients from being harmed by people who do not maintain them.
The state should not become a conduit for compulsory donations to people in other nations.
Foreign Aid is the process by which poor people in rich countries give money to rich people in poor countries (Peter Bauer).
The problem with government aid is that it is usually channelled through government agencies in the recipient country. Politicians are expert at wasting other people's money, so it is a mistake to give politicians in even more money to control (and waste).
If people want to help people in poor countries, they should give through individuals or organizations that are accountable for the money they handle .
Two Groups Benefit
The civil government benefits two groups of people.
Many people benefit from their largesse. These are the people who keep them in power.
The administrative elite who are employed by the government also benefit. They are the ones who benefit most.
The DANG Conclusion
The boundary around the role of government is simple.
If the issue is not theft, violence, murder, false witness or fraud, the government should not be involved.