Government intervention

Trying to find the best way to think about when we should have government intervention and when we should not.

The founding fathers set up some very clear guidance that helps but still leaves some serious gray areas.

Jefferson ~~”That which breaks my arm or picks my pocket” are clearly areas where the government has a role in defending liberty.

or Jefferson again ~~”You are free to swing your fist where ever you want to until hits my nose”.

This leads to uncomfortable questions about how you give someone as much freedom as possible without interfering others liberty.

For example, Jill is a principled, ethical and religious doctor.  She believes very strongly in the value of life.  More specifically, never taking a life.  She is against the death penalty, strongly favors social assistance programs to help refugees and those in poverty or other life threating situations.  In her view “it is never okay to take another life.”  For this doctor is against her morals and religion to perform an abortion.  The only exception would be when it is life threatening for the mother, that is the only time it is okay.

Under what circumstances should this doctor be able to stay true to her convictions and in what circumstances should she be required by the force of law to perform an abortion that completely violates her personal ethics?

If we assume a legal right for a woman to choose an abortion, eg. Roe v Wade.  Then this gets complicated.

The above example led me to think about two guidelines for when the provider of a service is no longer allowed liberty in choosing who they provide services to.  But they should be allowed liberty in all other circumstances.

The two guidelines are:

  1. Monopoly – when the provider of the service has either an intentional or unintentional monopoly on the service.  Eg.  they are the only doctor in range, they are the only company providing electricity.
  2. Vital – the service is deemed vital to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  Eg. electricity to your home is vital, medicine you will die without is vital, and Roe v Wade establishes the right to abortion as vital.

Note, that in both of the above guidelines they can be sliding scales.  When someone has a monopoly and when they don’t may have multiple dependencies.   When something is vital and when something is not vital will be a thing that changes as society and the world changes.

Examples:

Wedding cake – even if the wedding cake service provider is the only one in the state, they can choose to not make a cake for a gay wedding if they so choose.  A wedding cake is NOT a vital service and further, the charge of monopoly is weak, eg.  Someone else can make a cake in their kitchen.

Pharmacist – who morally, religiously and, depending on who you ask, wrongly believes that AIDS is a sign of a sin against god and wants to refuse to carry AIDS medication.  The AIDS medication is easily classified as vital to life.  However, the monopoly part is harder.  If this person is the only pharmacist in town, then they have a monopoly and they MUST sell the medication.  If this is one of 4 drugstores in the middle of town and the other 3 are selling the medication.  The pharmacist is free to make the choice for themselves.

Are their examples where the guidelines fall apart?

Or are these guidelines enough to help most people see a path forward to providing as much liberty as possible but still providing protection in the more gray areas?

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