Blogs > Liberty and Power > Anti-Government or Pro-Goverment? Make Up Your Mind!

Nov 21, 2011

Anti-Government or Pro-Goverment? Make Up Your Mind!

Here you you see conservative reporter reporter Michelle Fields being shoved to the ground by NYC police. (Hat-tip to Ray Sawhill.) (Earlier this year we at "E pur si murove!" enjoyed her capturing Matt Damon's curious claim about the "shitty salaries" that government school teachers get.)
I'm sure her tears at the end were more a matter of shock and anger than physical pain. But what is she shocked about? Doesn't she know what police do?

There is something here that I've never understood. How can conservatives say they are anti-government, or at least skeptical of government, and yet love the police and the military? What could be more government-y than the police and the military? They are where the government rubber hits the road. They are the hands-on part of the government.
I see the mirror image of this mystery on the other side of the spectrum. Liberals like government. Okay, here there is a problem, because they almost never admit to this. But it does seem clear that they tend to see new government rules and more taxpayer money (and not free markets, free discussion, or ordinary human decency) as the solution to society's problems.
Okay, to avoid being accused of exaggerating, I'll just put it like this. Conservatives: favorable attitude toward police and military, unfavorable attitude toward government. Liberals: unfavorable attitude toward police and military, favorable attitude toward government.
I don't see how this can be denied. And yet it makes no logical sense.
After all, what is government? Government makes rules. There is only one big difference between these rules and other rules - such as the rule that you are supposed to say "you're welcome" when someone says "thank you," or the rule that in English the adjective comes before the noun. Government rules are enforced -- by police of some sort or other. That's it.
If you favor more rules and regulations, you favor the cops -- the government's muscle -- making people do things, whether they want to or not. If you favor fewer of these things, isn't it because you don't want people to be muscled in this way?
Like I say, I don't get it. (HT to Alan Kors for picture.)
Update: Since writing the above, I found out that Michelle Fields is actually a libertarian and not a conservative, so she's actually not a good example of the general point I was making here. But of course the point is logically independent of the instance that I ignorantly chose to illustrate it.

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