I'm not lazy in general. The reason for my dearth of blog posts is due to the fact that I'm working some serious hours on a big project. However, I do believe in the maxim "never do anything today that you can put off until tomorrow." I learned this in high school where the requirements of long-term assignments would get changed due to the pathetic pleadings of other students, in the process, nullifying my head start.
I've been thinking lately about the psychology of the debate over the role of government. Emotionally, I think that laziness and boredom might have a lot to do with my positions. There are lots of things that just don't interest me. Like most people, I find it extremely difficult to work on something I'm totally apathetic about.
Take retirement plans. Please. Boring, tedious and dull. Filling in forms and reading fund prospectuses are like watching paint dry. I might even prefer watching paint dry. Anyway, there are many chores in society that I would really rather avoid. That's where government comes in. Highway planning, agricultural subsidies, retirement plans, tax collection, zoning, vaccinations, etc. All necessary, all worthwhile, but really, all I want to know is that they're getting done.
For me, government is something that should just work in the background. I pay taxes so that all the things society needs to keep running just happen without me really having to think about it. If I pay a bit more so I can do a bit less, I'm okay with that. Every year or two or four, we audit government performance and elect the officials who will do the best job. I can handle that much.
Not only is this emotionally satisfying, it also makes a lot of sense. If I wanted to take personal responsibility for the traditional role of government, I'd have to spend 20% of my time working as a bureaucrat, hiring private sector firms to do what government does today. Like most people, I don't want to be a bureaucrat. Not that there's anything wrong with being one. It's just that I would rather have that 20% of my life back so I can have a social life, take vacations or work at my real job. It's simply inefficient to have every adult in the country duplicate the same tasks of governance.
Besides, when people aren't interested in the work, they do a bad job. The private sector firms that would replace the government would not be more cost effective. In fact their role would be that of extracting money (for profit) from the public. Private companies are also not transparent like the government.
So why do libertarians and right-wingers want to get rid of the government? I don't think they have a compelling case intellectually, though I'm certain I would agree with them that certain things should be returned to the private sector. But psychologically, what's the appeal?
Are libertarians fastidious when it comes to chores and housework? Are they control freaks who want to do everything for themselves? Do they want to know where every penny goes? Are they more likely than average to return an item to the store, despite the hassle involved? None of these qualities are bad, but I wonder if there's a correlation between these qualities and where one falls on the political spectrum.