Role of effective government

Far too often governments around the world at all levels have forgotten that they were elected to work for the people. Governments have either gotten complacent or willfully negligent to the best interests of the middle class and working-class people; the very people that elected them, the very people that perform the critical jobs and roles to make society function. The stated role of government in democratic societies is to represent the electorate yet more and more we are seeing people feel disillusioned and left behind. The latest example of this is the provincial Conservative government’s actions in Ontario with respect to CUPE education workers. There is vast public support for CUPE education workers and unions in general after the government negotiated in bad faith and then blatantly overreached their political powers to trample on labour rights by using section 33 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (notwithstanding clause) to impose a contract.

Responsible and ethical governance requires a government to always stand up for the people. It should not be about the parties, or the politicians, or political ideology, but rather about the people. Unequivocally and always. The middle class and working-class people who work in front of our eyes and behind the scenes to run our society and economy so that we can all have a good quality of life. We are all in this together, we are all stakeholders in this society and every ripple, positive or negative, affects all of us in one way or another. It is obligatory on government to recognize these concerns and to always promote actively, and fight for the rights, freedoms and best interests of middle class and working-class people, with concerted actions. Politicians, by and large, are always talking about standing up for the people, but actions speak louder than words. Often, what is missing is the resolute action required, the hard decisions needed to stand up to external economic and largely corporate pressures that work against the peoples’ interests.

Whether we like it or not, the reality is that capitalism has enabled us, in North America and western Europe particularly, to enjoy a very high quality of life compared to many other more populous parts of the world. Capitalism has its detractors, who have merit and raise valid points especially with respect to the ruthless rampant late-stage capitalism we see emerging today that is eroding freedoms and rights of the masses, and is routinely choosing profits over well-being. To reconcile what capitalism has given us and what it has become, there needs to be a balance such that we can enjoy the technological and economic advantages of capitalism while minimizing the downsides that result in people being left behind. The only real and lasting way to achieve this is to have a strong government with strong regulations to keep capitalism in check and to prevent it from becoming runaway and rampant.

A strong government must be a referee in the game of capitalism. A strong government must stringently make rules that advantage the people and then with equal zeal uphold these rules with regulations such that corporate interests and “the 1%” are never able to take advantage of the people. A strong effective government that seeks to build a healthy society must never side with corporations in opposition to the best interests of the people. An effective government should always side with the people without exception; the well-being of the people should always be a priority over corporate profits.

Corporations and large businesses will likely always be profit maximizing entities and that is fine in and of itself, however they should not be left to their own devices. They should not be left to generate and maximize profits for their owners and shareholders at the expense of the rest of society or by exploiting middle class and working-class people. The role of effective government is to be a referee in order to level the playing field such that corporations and large businesses are able to operate as they wish in order to maximize profits, while society as a whole does not suffer from any reckless behaviour in pursuit of profit maximization.

An effective government must always prioritize the needs and wants of the average middle class and working-class people, who make up the majority of our society, over the needs and wants of corporations, large business interests, and “the 1%”. The fundamental reason for this is that corporations, large business interests and “the 1%” use their often-significant resources, money and influence to advocate for their best interests, which is understandable and reasonable. However, the average middle class or working-class person does not have access to such levels of resources, money and influence to advocate for their best interests, which is why the government needs to use its power, money and influence to advocate on behalf of the average middle class and working-class people such that a large part of society does not feel disillusioned and discontented with their lives.

Let me be clear: this is not advocacy for government control or overreach but rather for a democratically elected government undertaking its fundamental responsibilities to its electorate. It may be easy to erroneously conflate the ideas presented here with government command and control style economies; that is simply not the case. I am advocating for a strong and effective government that levels the playing field for middle class and working-class people. In order to achieve this goal, strong regulation on corporate and large business interests is required which is not at all the same as the government owning the means of production and dictating how corporations or large businesses ought to be run or operated. Corporations and large businesses play an important role in our economy with respect to providing goods and services that enable our quality of life, however corporations and large businesses exist to serve the people, instead of the other way around. When capitalism is left to its own devices, the tables turn and corporations and large business interests feel that the people exist to serve them; this is where an effective and strong government is required to advocate for and to protect the interests of the people.