Guest Editorial Series: Helping People of Our Own Volition

By Doyle Beck

Idaho Freedom Foundation President Wayne Hoffman’s commentary, “Rendering personal assistance to people reflects who we are as Idahoans,” which described our moral obligation to render assistance to people in need, struck a chord with a lot of us on the Bonneville County Republican Central Committee. Hoffman’s correct. It’s the responsibility of individuals to help our neighbors in need.

It’s interesting that Idaho liberals often entertain the question, “What should be done to help the people in the Medicaid gap?” Conservatives and libertarians never said that nothing should be done. Far from it. Instead, we’ve consistently argued that we should render assistance to people in need. But the correct way to assist is through people offering help of their own volition. For the government to help is not the proper role of government.

How do conservatives understand the proper role of government? Well, according to the Idaho Republican Party Platform, the proper role of government is “to provide for the people on only those critical functions that cannot be performed by individuals or private organizations.”

There are numerous organizations that exist—from churches to charities—whose mission it is to serve the poor. When the government intervenes and provides aid typically offered by people and private organizations, it undermines the ability of private groups to do good deeds and serve the greater community.

Moreover, it’s a fact that government services can be as hurtful as they are helpful. They tend to offer inferior services to that of the private sector, forcing the poor to have to navigate a labyrinth of bureaucrats and paperwork. At the end of the paper trail, the recipient of government assistance is usually assigned a form of aid that was designed by politicians and government lawyers, unspecific to the plight of the individual and commonly inadequate to help the person. Private organizations, however, are better equipped to provide the tailored services that are generally needed to yield real, long lasting results for those most vulnerable among us.

None of this implies or insists that people in need “fend for themselves” or be further victimized by their misfortunes. Rather, conservatives believe we have an obligation to help one another, to care for our neighbors in need, to prove assistance and to make a difference in our communities.

In his essay on the proper role of government, Ezra Taft Benson notes, “Right and wrong as moral principles do not change. They are applicable and reliable determinants whether the situations with which we deal are simple or complicated. There is always a right and wrong to every question which requires our solution.”

Benson continues, “Unlike the political opportunist, the true statesman values principle above popularity, and works to create popularity for those political principles which are wise and just.”

Though it is popular in certain corridors these days to measure politicians’ or political parties’ love and caring by the number of government programs they create, conservatives feel differently. Our measure of success really should be the number of people we free from government programs and dependency.

Doyle Beck

Bonneville County LD 30 Chairman

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