Oct. 19, 2012
I want to highlight a well-written and insightful article by Hunter Baker on the proper role of government. I like the illustration of the hammer in the articles title because it shows that the main power of government rests in its ability to use force to achieve its goals. The article echoes many of the sentiments of the great French writer Frederic Bastiat in The Law. Bastiat decried the legal plunder of his time in which many politicians sought to use the government as a tool to redistribute wealth and engineer cultural outcomes based on their own ideals. The government is supposed to protect citizens in their persons and property from incursions by others. In this way it promotes freedom and punishes injustice. It is inept at producing social outcomes. Having freedom allows people to engage in the pursuit of happiness which the great law commentator William Blackstone noted was inseparably linked to justice:
God has so inseparably interwoven the laws of eternal justice with the happiness of each individual, that the latter cannot be attained but by observing the former; and if the former be punctually obeyed, it cannot but induce the latter. (Sir William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England (1765), vol. I, Ch 2, p. 40).
Often government often tries to promote its own sense of equality instead of justice and attacks our faith and harms our families. Our sincere Faith should guide us to love and provide for our Family and it is through these two institutions that societal outcomes can be changed. Then the government can concern itself with protecting both from injustice and we can truly have Freedom. Indeed, we will then understand what it means to correctly use the hammer.