Letter: Educated citizens a check on gov't

The U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C. on The U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 19, 2011. Photo Credit: AP

advertisement | advertise on newsday

The Aug. 3 letter "Government must get out of its own way" criticized our governments for expanding and usurping power. While I am sympathetic to some of these complaints, they are simply an emotional statement of the writer's preferences without a helpful, balanced principle upon which to improve things.

We can probably agree that ideally a republic is a place where citizens choose their leaders; a democracy one where citizens have a more direct role in laws and policies. These principles suggest that governments should be limited in their functions so they would serve us, not so that we are servants of government.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Beyond those ideas, there are very serious differences. The writer suggests that the only way government can be prevented from becoming oppressive is to compress it -- perhaps to bathtub size? Wrong! Some ancient Greeks saw a better way: education for citizenship in the broadest sense. Without an intelligent, informed and involved public, neither a republic nor a democracy is possible.

If these conditions are not met and striven for continuously and vigorously, then the writer's prescription is correct. It is up to us to raise our children to be citizens, or we will be ruled by selfish and bloodthirsty elites serving themselves. Of course, they prefer to operate behind the panel, controlling the distracting flashing lights and sounds.

Robert M. Goldberg, Jericho
 

Sign up for the Opinion newsletter and get the latest analysis delivered to your inbox.

You also may be interested in: