What is the Proper Role of Government?
Last week, news broke that the IRS had been targeting conservative groups that were claiming non-profit status.
Yesterday, news broke that the Department of Justice had secretly obtained phone records of AP reporters and editors, effectively tracking how they gather their news, including possibly uncovering some of their confidential sources.
Of course, the government always claims “national security” in almost all of these cases. They are always trying to find and seal leaks within the government, making it less transparent.
It is the continued assault on our rights, be it the First amendment (the AP & IRS scandals), the Second (gun control), the Fourth or the Fifth Amendments.
John Stewart had a funny bit last night, and while he usually goes after the right wingers, he lambasted the government for its lack of managerial skills and incompetence.
One thing that Stewart said got me thinking. He said that he believes that “good government has the power to improve people’s lives and the people have the power to restrain its excesses”.
Is it the role of government to improve our lives, or is that our responsibility?
I’m not saying that government has no role to play in our lives, or that all government regulation is bad. We need protections to keep lead out of paint and out of children’s toys. We need regulation to keep companies from dumping toxic and flammable chemicals into our rivers and streams. We need to work to keep our cities from dumping raw sewage into our rivers.
These are all things government can, and should do. However, government should not regulate everything.
Tobacco poses a serious health risk, but I am aware of those risks, and I am an adult. I don’t need the government telling me I can’t, or shouldn’t have it.
I have been very anti-marijuana, but my stance has been softening on this a bit. If alcohol is legal, pot should be as well. There have been concerns that someone may get high and drive, but people get drunk and drive. There have been concerns that someone, like a doctor may partake and go to work, but what stops them from drinking?
Plus there is the added benefit that if the states are allowed to regulate it, they can tax it, and maybe fill some of these budget shortfalls they are experiencing.
Yes, these are risks that exist, but there are millions of people who are responsible with their partying. Should the government ban it because of the irresponsible actions of a few?
Junk food and fast food is not the best thing you can eat, but again, it’s my choice.
Is it the role of government to tell me I must live a healthy lifestyle, that I must exercise?
Some people like to exercise, to get out and run or ride bicycles.
That’s their pursuit of happiness. It’s their inalienable right.
But why do they feel like they have to infringe on mine by telling me I can’t have a 32 ounce Coke? That I can’t have a bag of Cheetos? I have to admit, I have a weakness for Cheetos, especially the puffy ones. So do my dogs.
Oh, shut up! They’re fitter than I am because he has an obsession with chasing his ball all around the yard.
Playing ball is his pursuit of happiness.
The other one likes to run along the fenceline barking at the neighbor’s dog.
That’s her pursuit of happiness.
Is it the role of government to require me to have health insurance?
I’ve seen the argument that government requires us to have car insurance, but that is to protect against property damage and injuries inflicted on others.
Is it the role of government to tell us what we can do in the privacy of our own homes, to tell us who we can fall in love with?
As much as the government tries, it is not the morality police, nor can it legislate morality.
Why do people feel that I need to be saved from myself?
Is it the role of government to take from the haves and give to the have nots? I understand those who, like Stewart, feel government can improve people’s lives, but is it improving someone’s life to give them fish?
Government assistance should be temporary, but there are those who make a career living off government assistance. How much taxpayer money is wasted on fraud like this?
It seems like everything today is a war or a crisis of some sort. Remember the book 1984, where Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia were at perpetual war with each other?
The war of poverty. The war on drugs. The war on terrorism.
The Federal government has decided that “provide for the common defense” means giving money and weapons to other countries, and they use justifications such as the so-called wars on drugs and terrorism to do so. It also uses these same crises to grab more power for itself.
Is it the role of the Federal government to own large swaths of land? Especially when the Constitution expressly forbids it?
and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;
Nothing about National Parks or National Forests. Honestly, they are not needful.
Turn them over to the states!
Is it the role of the government to own corporations?
Is it the role of the government to guarantee loans, be it corporate or student loans?
Those who believe that the government should be a vehicle to lift people up have not studied the history of government. Any government.
The American experience is unique in that it is the first honest attempt by people to govern themselves. This nation was founded by aristocrats to be sure, but the people were involved. Are the people all knowing, all wise? No! But we elect a diverse range of folks to go to Washington and make decisions for us. If we feel that they are doing a poor job, we elect someone else. If we feel that they have made a wrong decision, we challenge it in court or bombard our Congresspeople.
The system was designed to be limited, to be difficult to get anything done. As much as people complain about gridlock, that’s the design, and the beauty of it. It should be difficult for Congress to pass anything, unless it is a really good idea. It is difficult to change the Constitution on a whim.
Today we live with a government that is big, bloated and corrupt. John Stewart said that he believes that the people have the power to restrain the excesses of the government. If that’s true, we have been doing a piss poor job of it. We rely not on the politics of substance, but the politics of personality, of personal attacks and false promises. We vote for the one who promises us free ice cream.
Too many government agencies, too much overlap.
Power must be restored to the states, to let us make our own decisions, not have to live with Federal government mandates.
John Adams believed that the Federal debt needed to be extinguished every once in awhile to keep it from growing too large. Politicians today believe in spending more and more, denying there is a debt problem.
It is up to us to restore the Federal government to some sort of sanity, and elections are not doing it. We need a Constitutional Convention, and we need it now more than ever. The states are close to calling one, but as long as there are only two parties, I fear we will never get them to agree on anything to pass along.
Somehow, some way, we have got to figure out how to restrain the government. So, Mr. Stewart, what do you suggest we do?