The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

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By Steve Erdman
47th District 

Straight Talk From Steve:

Good Government


January 12, 2022 | View PDF

The second session of the 107th Legislature has already begun and new bills are now being introduced. Although new bills may only be introduced within the first ten legislative days of the session, I expect approximately 500 new bills to be introduced this year. Many of these bills will likely venture outside of the scope of what good government ought to do. Therefore, today I would like to remind my readers about what good government is supposed to do.

Milton Friedman once famously said that “Freedom is a tenable objective only for responsible individuals.” He was right. Government is needed because human beings are prone to doing what is morally wrong and irresponsible. In Christianity, we call this kind of behavior sin. In American politics, though, this is the kind of behavior which treads on our most basic rights and liberties. Therefore, the primary purpose of government is to protect those rights and liberties guaranteed to us by the American Constitution and the Nebraska State Constitution. Tyranny and oppression are what results when governments stray too far away from this primary purpose of government.

Because the primary duty of government is to protect our rights and liberties, it is unreasonable to ask the government to do that which goes beyond these limits. For example, compassion is neither a right nor a liberty; instead, it is a virtue which must be learned and practiced on a completely voluntary basis. Governments cannot coerce their citizens to be compassionate. A government which regulates compassion ends up oppressing its own citizens by punishing them for non-compliance, and this results in a tyrannical government that is uncompassionate towards its own citizens.

What about government spending? Good governments tend to only spend taxpayer monies on what is necessary to secure our basic rights and liberties. Whenever governments stray too far away from this primary purpose of government, they inevitably fall into fiscal irresponsibility, waste, and reckless spending. Many of our State agencies have little or nothing to do with securing our basic rights and liberties.

American society has been moving further and further away from this understanding of the primary function of government. Today too many Americans believe it is the primary responsibility of the government to take care of them and to solve all of society’s problems. They expect the government to take responsibility for their lives from the cradle to the grave. They forget that our American form of government is a form of self-rule and is comprised of the governed. As president Abraham Lincoln famously said in his Gettysburg Address, our constitutional republic is supposed to be “government of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

As the second session of the 107th Legislature convenes this year, I will be on the lookout for those bills which protect our constitutional rights and liberties. These are the bills which matter most, and these are the kinds of bills which I will be quick to introduce and to co-sign. Whether they be bills that protect unvaccinated persons from undue government mandates, bills that protect our constitutional right to keep and bear arms, or bills that protect our taxpayers from being over-taxed by the government, these are the kinds of bills that will merit my attention this year.


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