Just like a family decides how to manage it’s monthly budget, governments must decide how to mange their budgets as well. Just like a family decides what the priorities must be, governments must decide what their priorities as well.
Life is a constant struggle between what a person needs and what a person wants, particularly when it comes to financial matters. Government is not immune to this conflict. There are many things that it would be nice if government could do them, but there are a few specific things that government, particularly at the local level, must do.
Just like a family must spend a portion of its monthly budget on food, clothing, and shelter a local government must, at its most elemental level, provide for the rule of law. Most school children can recite the second sentence of the Declaration of Independence:
We hold these truths to be self- evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.
The third sentence then begins:
That in order to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among men…
Once the necessity of government is realized, the question of its responsibilities soon arises. We choose to have governments in this country because we believe they are necessary to secure our unalienable rights. To further secure them, we charge that government with the creation of a just system of laws defining what conduct and behavior our society will tolerate. We must have a system of courts that can be trusted to adjudicate disputes in a fair and impartial manner. And we must, at the tip of the spear, have a cadre of dedicated men and women prepared to enforce the laws fairly, to investigate violations of those laws, and to apprehend those that would break those laws.
If a city’s citizens are unable to leave their homes without jeopardizing their physical safety (their Life) due to an escalation in the crime rate then the community will fail. If a businessman can’t enter into a contract without fear because he believes that he will be defrauded by those smarter than he and that he will have little or no legal recourse, commerce will fail. What good is it to have a park if no one will use it for fear of being raped, robbed, or murdered? What good is it to have a Chamber of Commerce or to market your city for development if the city’s government has failed at providing for the rule of law? To put it bluntly, Lexington can’t have nice things if it can’t protect them.
Over the coming weeks and months we hope to foster discussion in the community about what Lexington needs versus what Lexington wants. Please join us in making that discussion productive.