Through out the course of history, the biggest issue faced by political scientists, economists, financial experts, sociologists and historians is how to balance between individual rights and government authority. Along with the powers that any government may have, there comes an inherited risk of fringing on individual liberties and overdo in the name of public interest and national security, for example. Unfortunately, our government has shown this tendency, too, all along. It is just a matter of who is in power. If Democrats are in power they would like to infringe on individual liberties in the name of ‘helping less fortunate’ and ‘welfare of citizens’. If Republicans are in power, they would use the ‘national security’ and ‘public interests’ arguments to infringe on individual liberties.
Even the most conservative economists, political scientists and sociologists, accept that an individual cannot do everything by himself or herself. That is why, we need government, to do these things for individuals. For example defense, law and order, fire departments, education and public works like roads, are traditionally accepted in our form of government as the responsibilities of government. To perform these jobs for their citizens, a governments must tax their citizens, since this is usually the only source of income that a government may have. Now, the questions, difficulties and controversies arise, when, it comes to, what a government can and must do and how much and up to which level and limit?
This question is often discussed and answered in different terms, methods and ways like constitutional, moral, legal, ideological and religious terms. The range is full length. It encompasses the dynasties, kingdoms and communist philosophies, in which government can control everything and anything, up to any extent without any limitations, agitations, resistance, challenges and protests, to the most libertarian ideals, in which government is merely a symbol and has no inherited right to control anything, to any extent. It is only the limited powers in very few aspects of everyday personal and national life, provided by individual citizens, legislature, courts, laws and constitution of the country, where government can exercise some limited control.
The authoritarian and liberal ideologies a mostly based on the concept of collective welfare. They are based on the idea that human beings are social animals and they cannot and will not survive as an individual. They all do and must exist as one humanity, as a one whole, not as an individual. Survival and benefits, and well being of every member of the society is tied to each other. Just like the sailors of ship, they all sail and sink together. Society, as a general rule, cannot overlook, any segment of population or any individual as a matter of fact. Because, in accordance with these ideologies, if one person or a segment of population goes down, everyone else, goes down, too. Recently, we have been experiencing these type of events and incidents on global level. We are seeing, how crisis in one country or part of the world is negatively effecting everyone else in the world. For example, the real estate and markets crash in United States, European sovereign debt crisis, tension and protests in middle east, Iran related issues and ups and owns in oil prices, are effecting everyone in the world.
On the other hand, the libertarian, capitalistic and other ideologies, focused on individual rights and responsibilities, stress on the notion that every individual has certain inalienable rights and responsibilities. Governments cannot and must not infringe on these personal liberties. These rights include right to the pursuit of happiness and freedom, and equal opportunities in every aspect of social, economic, financial, access to information and freedom of speech. As per these ideologies, this is a give and take situation. In order to have and preserve these rights, commonly termed a basic human rights, individuals must accept certain personal responsibilities. The reason for this is, if am individual does not accept these responsibilities, then government will take over, which is more likely to go over and take away more of the personal freedom, then what it is supposed to. These responsibilities are, to always abide by the law, take care of him or her self and family, work responsibly, continuously and hard, take charge of his or her own finances, keep improving his or her skills and qualifications, to keep up with the increasing and changing demands of job market, so that he or she always have a job and is able to take care of himself or herself and the family.
The ideologies based on collective welfare are mostly run by governments. Individuals are freed from most responsibilities and governments take care of their needs. The economies in these societies, like very thing else, are also controlled and run by governments. They decide where to invest, how much to invest, who is to benefit, who will get a job and for how long. The basic necessities like food, clothing, shelter, education and healthcare are usually guaranteed by governments. In turn, people have to give up their freedom of choice. Usually governments will decide which food items will be available on stores, what variety of clothing will be available for people, what type of residential units will be built in a particular community, where a child will goes for education and where a certain group of people will get healthcare.
In the societies built on ideologies more focused on individual rights and responsibilities, individuals build and acquire skills and qualifications necessary for survival and decent living. With these skills and qualifications they compete in relatively open job markets, get a job, work hard and efficiently at work, earn income and living, and take care of themselves and their families with these incomes. Contrary to socialist and communist societies, almost nothing is guaranteed. You have to work and compete for every benefit, opportunity and privilege. If you cannot, for any reason, including age, sickness, disability, discrimination, poor resources, financing and /or contacts, then, you are at your own and you have to bear and live with the consequences, at your own.
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