“Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.” -George Washington
Government is often the best and most effective argument against itself.
If we as citizens learn one thing from the present government shutdown, it should be this: that the government ought to do less and remove its burdensome presence from the private sector’s ability to more efficiently serve peoples’ wants and needs.
In the current shutdown, we saw an administration act, with arbitrary and sadistic intent, to inflict pain on the American people in a way never considered by previous administrations. The pain was necessary to show the people the great harm that would befall them if they did not adopt the administration’s preferred way of thinking.
The administration would have us believe that the Affordable Care Act should be left intact. That it should maintain big business exemptions not offered to small businesses or individuals–not even part of the original law–only recently unilaterally added to it by the Executive branch, which we note does NOT have legislative authority. That the ACA should extend a subsidy for Members of Congress, also specifically not permitted by the original text of the law and unilaterally enacted by the President‘s administration.
Republicans disagree with the administration on special treatment for the government and exemptions not available for individuals. Democrats support these special treatments and exemptions. Republicans control the House of Representatives. Democrats control the Senate. And there you have the mechanics behind the current government shutdown.
Enter the stories reported since the shut down began: paying government employees to erect barricades from open-air memorials (including the World War II and Vietnam Memorials, granite wall with a sidewalk); closing unmanned scenic pull offs, shutting down the Amber Alert website (not the system) but not the First Lady’s “Let’s Move” website; closing grocery stores on military bases but not the president’s favorite golf course at Andrews Air Force Base; attempting to force privately funded parks to close.
And moving from malicious annoyance to outright thuggish behavior: forcing homeowners at Lake Meade to leave their homes, forcibly closing private businesses that operate on leased property, and threatening to arrest Catholic priests who (volunteering on their own time) defy administration orders to enter a military base in order to celebrate mass with Catholic soldiers.
And to top it all off, the federal government “shutdown” represents only 17 percent of the government–leading us to think that the government can’t even close itself down effectively. But if it can cause this much havoc by only closing less than one-fifth of itself down, what greater damage will it do when it controls more healthcare operations?
Would a future government shutdown lead to people on a cancer screening wait list not being approved to see a doctor, get a test, or enter a treatment study? Think it’s not possible? It’s already happening. The government also has injected itself into approving US exports of liquefied natural gas–holding up exports during the shut down as projects requiring review by Department of Energy bureaucrats sit on empty desks.
As the federal government claims more and more power for itself, it creates dependency. Dependency in turn grants more power to those in government over those who are dependent. Control becomes a lasting side effect. If there’s a more insidious way to destroy one’s freedom, it would be difficult to beat this one.
What if people became dependent on government (via a single payer healthcare system as some political statists advocate)? Do they become dependent pawns of the political party in power? What if people depended on the government for energy? Food? Shelter? Transportation? All aspects of life become levers of control by which a political scoundrel can hold your life and freedom hostage in order to ensure acquiescence and compliance with his agenda.
Americans must reconnect with our past. Our birthright of rugged individualism and a pioneer spirit are not completely gone–even if they are alien to many products of a progressive education system. If people demand that their federal government stay out of their lives, return lands to the states, and allow problems to be solved at state and local levels, then we can let political elites in Washington DC play whatever games they would like, for however long they care to play them. Instead, we have our own lives to run and our own future to shape. And a federal government diminished to its core functions of providing a national defense, foreign affairs, and the only absolutely necessary intrusion on the private economy would not play such a central role.