Chapter 7: The Role of Government


Karen Wendling, “Four Myths about Government”

Understanding

  1. Wendling’s first argument against the claim that all government is coercive is that the public-private distinction is fluid. How is this relevant to the claim that all government is coercive?
  2. How do private coercion and public liberty show that all government is not coercive, according to Wendling?
  3. What difference does it make whether or not we believe all government is coercive? Why does Wendling think this claim must be shown to be wrong?
  4. Wendling argues that fair government is expensive, which requires that we pay taxes to support it. What are her reasons?
  5. Why does Wendling disagree with the claim that private services are better than public services?
  6. What good do bureaucracies do, according to Wendling?
  7. What is Wendling’s argument against the claim that governments should be run like businesses?

Evaluation

  1. What is Wendling’s argument against the claim that tax money is our money? Do you agree with her? Why or why not?
  2. Wendling argues that Canadians expect a lot from our governments, so we should be willing to pay taxes to support it. Why does she say this? What is your view, and why?

Tasha Kheiriddin and Adam Daifallah, “Vision Wanted: Tax Cuts Aren't Enough”

Understanding

  1. What is the core value of conservatism, according to Kheiriddin and Daifallah?
  2. What do Kheiriddin and Daifallah mean by enforced equality? What do they think is wrong with it?
  3. Why do Kheiriddin and Daifallah oppose the federal equalization program? What do they think should happen instead?
  4. What do Kheiriddin and Daifallah mean by “opportunity conservatives”? Why do they favour that sort of conservatism?

Evaluation

  1. What implications would opportunity conservatism have for businesses? for healthcare? Do you agree with opportunity conservatism? Why or why not?
  2. According to Kheiriddin and Daifallah, conservatives have to show “Joe Sixpack, Jane Lunchbox, and their kids” what conservatives have to offer them. Why do they say this? Do you agree with them? Why or why not?

John Roberts, “Liberalism: The Return of the Perennial Philosophy”

Understanding

  1. What are (centrist) liberal values, according to Roberts? Why are these its values?
  2. What has caused cracks within centrist liberalism, according to Roberts?
  3. In Roberts’ view, what caused the rise of neo-conservatism in the 1980s?
  4. What does Roberts think is wrong with neo-conservatism, and why?
  5. What does Roberts think centrists must do to counteract neoconservatism, and why?

Evaluation

  1. Roberts describes centrist liberalism as “pragmatic rather than ideological.” What does he mean by this? What views does he consider ideological, and why? Do you agree with him? Why or why not?
  2. Do you agree with the values that Roberts discusses? Which ones? Why or why not?

Ed Broadbent, “Equality is the Core Value of Democracy”

Understanding

  1. Broadbent claims that the economic meltdown of 2008 is proof that neo-conservative government policies do not work. What are his reasons for this claim?
  2. Why is Broadbent critical of the neo-conservative revolution of the 1980s to the 2000s?
  3. “More equal societies are not simply more stable and just; they are also healthier in virtually every respect for everyone in them,” Broadbent says. What are his reasons for this claim?
  4. Not only the poor but also the rich benefit from greater equality, Broadbent says. How? And what is his evidence for this claim?

Evaluation

  1. According to Broadbent, equality is necessary not only for liberalism but also for democracy. Why does he say this? Do you agree? Why or why not?
  2. Do you agree with Broadbent’s claim that the global economic crash of 2008 proves that neo-conservatism is wrong? Why does he say this? Do you agree with him? Why or why not?

Comparisons

  1. Do you think Wendling’s argument is directed primarily at conservatives, centrists, or egalitarians? Why?
  2. What would Roberts say in response to Kheiriddin’s and Daifallah’s opportunity conservatism? What would Broadbent say? Why? What do you think, and why?
  3. Kheiriddin and Daifallah oppose the federal equalization program, while Broadbent supports it. Why do they say what they do? What is your opinion of the equalization program, and why?
  4. How do Roberts’ criticisms of neo-conservatism differ from Broadbent’s?
  5. How would Kheiriddin and Daifallah respond to Broadbent’s argument that equality is necessary for democracy? What is your own view, and why?
  6. In the economic meltdown of 2008 the ruling Conservatives bailed out some major businesses, like automotive companies, and otherwise poured tax money into the economy. Do you think Kheiriddin and Daifallah would agree with what he did? Roberts? Broadbent? Do you? Why or why not?