Is the United States a “Failing State”?
According to Max Weber, a state could be said to “succeed” if it maintains a monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force within its borders. The key here is the word “legitimate.” To be legitimate, a state must must be seen by its citizens as protecting their interests, and being fair and just. With an approval rating of Congress of 18% can we consider the government legitimate? And, if not, is the United States a failing or failed state?
The Federal Health Care debate brings to the surface a number of problems that indicate how the United States is failing:
- The method of passing legislation in the Congress, which has shifted from items that serve the interest of the citizens and the nation as a whole to legislation that serves the minority interests of enough special-interest lobby groups attached together in a combined bill to get passed. This is against the intent of the founders and the Constitution but has become the operating norm for Congress. The 2,000 page healthcare bill is symptomatic of this process.
- The citizens of the United States are asking the federal government to take responsibility for their healthcare, believing the government actually has the capability to do this. This undercuts the principle that a democracy can only stand on the foundation of citizens capable of caring for themselves. It is not wrong to want a government to care for a minority group of people who cannot care for themselves, but when “universal” care is asked the democracy becomes, by definition an oxymoron…and the state is destined to fail.
- The proposal for solving the problem is at the federal level, the level farthest removed from the problem of personal health care. Administrating programs on this level are the easiest to defraud, as proven with the Medicare program. They require the greatest number of levels of bureaucracy, and therefore the largest number of paid bureaucrats not involved in actual treatment, increasing the top-heavy weight of the system and the price tag for the care one actually receives. When a government is centralized to this level it is like a cancer that has grown exceedingly large and killing its host.
- The role of a legitimate government is to protect life and property, not to ration life and steal property under the threat of physical force. The impending legislation will force working people and small businesses, the backbone of the economy, to pay taxes and premiums that will ration their health care and fund new jobs for bureaucrats that will creates panels to tell them what health care they are entitled to.
- The new federal employees who oversee these programs will receive their jobs and benefits without having to produce anything comparable to those hard-working producers of the goods and services necessary for people to live to remain in business. The better life for a parasite than a host will be viewed as unjust. In a democracy, it is the hosts who decide how much government they will support, it is not forced on them by special interests.
My conclusion is that the United States is a failed state in principle at the federal level, and that a collapse is inevitable unless changes such as those I recommend in Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, Version 4.0. are implemented and restore legitimacy to the system.
I hope that Gordon’s allegation that the US is a failed state is an exageration, or at least premature. The country reminds more of earlier great powers (Spain, France, for example) that got into trouble, but not terminally, like ancient Rome.
Regarding the SS ponzi scheme: Part of the solution has to be the drastic raising of the age at which benefits start. After all, the population has aged a great deal.
On balance, the articles are excellent, the blog is elegant and well thought out.