Q&A Friday #10: How Can You Support The Patriot Act And Be Against The Welfare State?

Question: “im a college student, and i just received a paper on domestic policy (in regards to homelessness and poverty) back. in the paper, i wrote that i believed that govt. involvement in the lives of it’s citizens should be kept to a minimum, and that the “welfare state” in America is detrimental. the professor in his comments on the paper asked me how i could support the Patriot Act and still believe this statement.

so, here’s the question:

is it hypocritical to believe that the government should stay out of the lives of its citizens where issues of welfare are concerned, yet still support the Patriot Act?

I have to meet with the professor tomorrow at 2pm EST, so i’d like to have an answer by then.

p.s. – personally, im fine with the selfish, ayn randian answer that welfare doesn’t work for me, but the patriot act does, so i vote accordingly. but he wont by that.” — BlkMktBabyDealer

Answer: As you’re describing it, this is actually a very easy question to answer.

Put simply, the Founding Fathers intended that the Federal government take responsibility for our national defense. On the other hand, they did not intend for the US government to create a “welfare state”. Given that, it’s bizarre to claim that it’s inconsistent to be in favor of the Patriot Act while still being an advocate of small government.

In fact, if you followed that silly line of reasoning out to its natural conclusion, you’d end up saying that you couldn’t support the government fielding a military or the CIA without being a proponent of the socialistic policies supported by the likes of Ted Kennedy.

On the other hand, if your professor is trying to claim that you can’t support keeping government “involvement in the lives of it’s citizens…to a minimum” if you support the Patriot Act, then apparently you have different definitions of what “to a minimum” means. Personally, while I have some minor quibbles with the Patriot Act, I don’t find it to be a draconian measure, especially given that we’re at war.

Moreover, in my experience, I’ve found that most (but not all) of the people who’re horrified by the Patriot Act are against it not because of what’s actually in the law, but because of other reasons.

They either tend to be Libertarians/Conservatives who oppose giving our intelligence services any new powers domestically on general principle (I understand this view, but don’t share it) or are hysterical liberals who are terrified by the Patriot Act because Bush proposed it and the GOP backs it. From what you’ve said, my guess is that your professor is a member of the latter group.

Hope that answers your question. Let us know how the meeting with your professor goes in the comments section tomorrow night…

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