Being a good citisen does not mean being obedient to your government, as such. It means being critical of it. It means doing your bit to help keep your nations government straight.
I think that it's perfectly natural for people to have no interest in social policy as such when they are under pressure. That is, I think it's natural for people to operate on faith that their governments have their personal interests at heart, and that corruption exists only at the peripheries, not the core. At least it's natural if they also have received enough suggestion that this is in fact so, and again if they have other pressing concerns to be occupied with.
All of us have to take at least some things on faith, in part because we have to get on with our lives - namely, bringing up the next generation. People are not so much stupid when it comes to social policy, they are just busy. All of us are more ignorant than informed: Again because we have to be, to function, and to get on with our primary role of reproduction.
However, social policy is now responsible for a MASSIVE part of our lives, in New Zealand and virtually every other country too. We have a government that takes over 50% of our incomes via tax so as to direct and regulate the nature of our production and consumption. They also control the development of your children via compulsion schooling (at ever younger ages). They heavily regulate your gross income by regulating the labour markets. They control your health systems, and largely the quality (or lack of) of your foods. And so much more. Modern government has become incredibly pervasive.
So how can we justify being glib in relation to social policy? Ignorance is understandable when it relates to things that should not be a priority for our attention, but given the fact that New Zealand could now be described as a socialist state (or very close to it) shouldn't we be finding the time to focus on what our governments are and are not doing? Shouldn't this now be a critical topic for everyone?
It's ironic, but the bigger New Zealand's government has become the more indifferent the people have become to it. (That is, indifferent in terms of critical review, not just "where's my hand-out?"). The opposite should be the truth. The bigger your government is the more it should be under your microscope.
So where has this blind faith come from? I think propaganda within schools and the media must be a part of it. Topics of the type published on my blog, for example, are kept away from children. And we are all fed the impression that at base the government is our friend, and that corruption only really exists on the level of a few ministers being a bit naughty with happy-time credit cards, etc.
Well, there are two giant policies that I am very familiar with that have forced me to question the idea that the government/s is my friend. Education and city planning. There are others of course but for now I will just focus on these.
Here is the fact: Alternative schooling (in its many forms) has proven beyond a doubt that children do not need to be institutionalised in an expensive, inefficient government-controlled structure for children to master the basics and more. In fact children consistently learn better in alternatives, even in relation to what can be measured.
You could argue that the government should impose compulsions on some parents/children, but only on an innocent-until-proven-guilty basis, and only in response to gross developmental problems. But there is no argument to justify the government controlling the development of your children outright as they do today, at least no argument that the public should accept.
I know this. John Key knows this. And many well-informed others on this topic know it too. Yet government controlled schooling isn't going anywhere. We are getting ever more of it. So what does this mean? Special interests control our government? Maybe. But if special interests can pull off something as extreme as compulsion-schooling then your government is clearly not your government. (Maybe I should change my post title to "Your special interests are not your friend"?)
Education is not a "little" policy. It's deeply formative on both the individual and our society. In fact this policy alone is so big and our governments relationship to it so unacceptable, that alone it should make you question whether the government is your friend.
Take an intelligent, non paid-off individual who is first agnostic on the issue of forced-intensification (Forced intensification = cramming people together into high-density cities whether they like it or not). Let those 'agnostics' hear the arguments for and against forced intensification, and they will almost certainly agree that it is a shocking social policy that should be outlawed as soon as possible. Forced intensification devastates housing affordability and for a negligible or even negative environmental gain. It suffocates economic development and is ruthlessly anti-egalitarian.
I know this, and so does the current government (in New Zealand). Will it be reversed? Why was it allowed to happen in the first place? It has been going on for over 10 years now and I have yet to see any serious shot-across-the-bow on this issue from our government.
This is a another very big social policy that indicates that the government is far from our friend.
The government has made so many people so poor over the years, that people just don't have the time to see who exactly is whipping their backs, and why*. They are fed rubbishy face-value impressions from the schools and media, and they generally come to believe in those impressions because it takes just too much time and energy (for them) to otherwise study a little further.
People have been taught that it's ok to have essential faith in their government and all the institutes that revolve around it, because they are apparently only there to take care of you. I would like to believe this too, but it's not real. I have provided two substantial examples in this post that should indicate to rational people that they should worry about their government, or worry about whoever or whatever is maybe controlling it. Sadly, the government is clearly not your friend.
So if the government is not representing you, and is instead consistently employing strange (and drastic) policies that can't make sense, then what on earth is it doing exactly, and why? One interesting possibility is that there's a government behind our government/s driving an agenda through our governments [In short: The UN rules the world and they know what they want it to look like]. The idea being that our politicians are just mouthpieces and our public servants are just bureau-goons for an order from above...if you dare to entertain a conspiracy theorist.
So how do you escape a government that does not represent you?
Only answer in my opinion: Extreme (as in down to 5,000 to 10,000 pop units) governmental and economic decentralisation. Most power needs to be concentrated in a government that you can get your hands on, so to speak.
The more distant your government the less it will care about you. A "big government" within a "big society" becomes a society unto itself (classing). Their official role of representation at base becomes only an abstraction. On a socio-emotional level, the "little people" will hardly even exist to them. You might as well be Africans living in a far-away distant tribe.
*You've got double-income families that can barely afford to bring up two children without government assistance. Four decades ago, you could bring up 4+ children with only Dad bringing home the bacon. (My grandfather was a schoolteacher and managed to support his wife plus 8 kids - and they all got fat from eating too much pudding).
Very recently, as I understand, New Zealand's central government has insisted that the Auckland super city provide evidence-based research, for if it wants the national government to financially support its programmes, such as rail investment.
This is actually the least of what the central government should be doing, but their move is being touted as a shot-across-the-bow to Auckland's council.
I can agree, at least, that the current National government has thus far shown far less enthusiasm for the idea of forced-intensification than the previous Labour government. But we will see. Policy-unspecific words on paper don't mean much in themselves. "Demanding evidence" doesn't tell us what evidence will finally be accepted.
Also, if it is true that New Zealand's social and economic policy is primarily driven by the United Nations, then this "battle" between central and local government will be a show. And if so, then the predetermined winner will be Smart Growth because smart growth is UN policy. And likewise, if this is the case, central government will come to accept "evidence" for the desirability of forced-intensification and its accompanying rail-based development, as provided by the super city's council, because that would be the agenda from above. Who knows(?).
(And they would do so in the same way that they [seem to have] accepted evidence on climate change as provided by the demonstrably corrupt and politically-driven IPCC.)
But it's too soon to judge as to whether or not this will just be a show. A false validation may make the status quo even more irreversible. We will see.
The argument against what I have written about governments not being your friend relates to the idea that governments are only responding to what the public believes it wants. This is true but only up to a point. If a government knows that the public are ignorant on a given issue, then why don't they take the opportunity to help educate them, over time? Why don't they teach real economics in schools, and other things that kids should learn about to make something of a competent vote?
And why do we see the same nonsense policies being introduced all over the developed world? And why are we constantly being subject to false debates that confuse what are actually [otherwise] very clear issues?
Something bigger is going on. I am becoming ever more convinced that it's all about human management - not democratic representation.