Government does not always have to “do something”

I’ve been thinking about health care, the auto industry, mortgages, banking, housing and even the self-imposed energy crisis. With every one, Americans seem to have fallen into some desire for the federal government to step in and fix it. They need to do something!

How have we fallen into this over-dependence on government? Conservatives will tell you that it started with FDR’s New Deal, ramped up through the 1930s to quickly move formerly private projects into the federal domain.

Many liberals report “the train has left the station” concerning the federal government’s involvement in everything from Social Security to the replacement of your local blinking-yellow traffic light. They use this as an excuse since they totally missed the incremental approach employed by government caretakers to slowly move responsibility from local, to state, to the federal government.

I’m sick of people telling me that I’m absolutely right but it’s never going to get fixed.

This year, President Obama plans to ditch the incremental approach and [multi-metaphor alert] go all-in with his our chips when it comes to the auto industry, banking, stimulus spending and health care. Mind you, this is a full-fledged dive into the deep end and he’s pulling you in.

Many will not have a life preserver as they have become completely dependent on The One. Obama will be (hopefully) climbing out of the pool in 42 months, leaving future generations wallowing through incomprehensible debt.

Our Founding Fathers were brilliant. Without a crystal ball, they were able to foresee that the federal government acting as a centralized solution to day-to-day problems of the individual, could not work. Can you name one, just one, federal government entitlement program that works?

Social Security is broken, so broke that nobody even wants to attempt to fix it anymore. Our education programs are falling behind, even with more government involvement introduced by Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) and President Bush (R) seven years ago. Medicare is basically insolvent, and physicians are opting out of the program every hour since they are loosing money every time they see a patient; best referred to as victims of federal health care.

Even though the our federal government has failed when it comes to their involvement in Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education, the war on drugs, and the war on poverty, Americans continue to ask government leaders to “do something”. Maybe the cry should be “do something better than you did before”.

Our friend Walter Williams has a good opinion piece today reflecting on why Americans Love Government.

I don’t think that stupidity, ignorance or insanity explains the love that many Americans hold for government; it’s far more sinister and perhaps hopeless.

I’ll give a few examples to make my case. Many Americans want money they don’t personally own to be used for what they see as good causes such as handouts to farmers, poor people, college students, senior citizens and businesses. If they privately took someone’s earnings to give to a farmer, college student or senior citizen, they would be hunted down as thieves and carted off to jail. However, they get Congress to do the identical thing, through its taxing power, and they are seen as compassionate and caring. In other words, people love government because government, while having neither moral nor constitutional authority, has the legal and physical might to take the property of one American and give it to another.

The unanticipated problem with this agenda is that as Congress uses its might to take what belongs to one American to give to another, what President Obama calls “spreading the wealth around,” more and more Americans will want to participate in the looting. It will ultimately produce something none of us wants: absolute control over our lives.

He’s right, and the only way to curb the insanity is to return power to the state and local governments. Really, must we remind elected officials of the United States Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and Amendments?

This is where I think the Tea Party movement should be focused. Sure, it’s sexy to complain about  Sen. Dodd’s (D-Conn.) cottage in Ireland, or his friend-of-the-CEO status with Countrywide, but wouldn’t it be better if Connecticut – and every other state – were less dependent on federal politicians bringing back the bacon?

We’re in a situation where state legislatures – including Republicans – demand a governor apply for stimulus funds from the federal treasury and take him to court to force the issue. What’s wrong with this picture? This is exactly the revolution we need – demand the federal government stop taxing to simply redistribute funds based on political favoritism.

Local budgets depend on state and federal grants for larger and larger portions of their funding. State budgets depend on federal hand-outs even more so. Soon, those grants turn into unfunded mandates and the finger is pointed at the federal government for leaving states and communities high-and-dry, as politicians demand even more money to replace lost funding.

This – for a lack of a better term – is our disease. Our politicians in Washington are rated on how much money they can steal from the residents of other states to be redistributed back home. This continues while most of you don’t even know the names of representatives on your town’s finance committee.

With the disease defined, I’ll identify competition as the cure. By returning spending power to towns, cities and states, residents and local leaders will be able to make their own choices on programs to fund. As an example, one state may choose to provide health care, while another may elect to stay out of the health care business all-together.

This competitive drive between local communities and states would be a great thing. Want to live in a state with a 50 percent tax rate that offers the services you want – go ahead! But if a state next door offers the same services at only a 25 percent tax rate – where are you going?

Where are we going?

[Edited for style 11 June 2009 at about 12:30 p.m. ET]

5 replies
  1. Dimsdale
    Dimsdale says:

    Yet they always manage to do something stupid.  And they always seem to have to do it quickly, so quickly that the resultant legislation is flawed beyond repair.

    To our "esteemed" legislators, both state and federal:

    There in never time to do a job right, but there is always time to do it over.

    Legislate in haste, tax at leisure.

  2. skepticalcynic
    skepticalcynic says:

    Damn steve

    Great article!  Youre the one who has a future in writing! I agree with 99% of the article.

    I don't like government involvment either.  But I don't want it in same sex marriage or individual decisions on drug use or religion.  Thats all I would add.  Don't look at the government as ANYTHING but a necessary evil.

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