The Purpose of the State

You know summer is indeed over when Parliament goes back to work. For some, this signals little more than the return of bickering background noise, while for others, this signals a passionate call for a return to arms. Regardless of the extent to which we pay attention to what goes on, and regardless of the extent to which we engage, as it begins to unfold we would do well, I believe, to reflect on what the role of the state is and what it should be. What is its task and in what areas should it intervene?

There are many disagreements over this most important question, with answers varying from “as much intervention as possible” to “as little intervention as possible”. I suspect, however, that a great many parliamentarians go about their business on an issue to issue basis, mostly out of good will no doubt, but also without being able to provide a principled and robust explanation as to why the intervention to which they hold dear, be it an action, policy, or program, should even finds itself within the jurisdiction of the state in the first place.

Continue reading →