Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Why Do You Hate Government, David?

I don't "hate government," but I think it should be limited, right? This week has been full of examples, but here's a subtler one.

Florida quietly shortened yellow light standards & lengths, resulting in more red light camera tickets for you

That isn't very subtle, is it? The ever-growing maw of public spending demands to be fed, so this kind of crap happens. It's happening in Cincinnati right now with the shortfall, the streetcar, the cuts, etc. Every level of government is broke (with a few notable exceptions). Stop spending so much. Encourage business while encouraging thrift. Don't waste.

Most importantly, don't do stuff that the government wasn't intended to do in a representative republic. If you don't, then these traps of spending and cutting and wasting are much less likely.

I'm going to quote myself from a post from last year, it was a part of a conversation, but I think I explained myself fairly well:

The Administration gave...gave away $500 Million to one solar energy company that they knew would fail, and it did, Solyndra. Twice Romney's reported net worth, our tax dollars, given away. That is why I don't care about one rich guy's capital gain rate, it's chump change to the larceny going on by both groups in power in DC, I could grab a Bush, Clinton, Bush, Reagan, or Carter administration example, as could many: if you like imagine how many teachers' taxes went to Solyndra, or whatever. We, the people, as a group, participating in the market, will choose better than the folks at the capital, so I say let us keep more and quit trying to do so much that our wise founders never intended our government to handle.

Before I nod off, I just want to clarify what the Solyndra example meant to me: the problem with empowering govt to do what the reactive market should do. Using our money to pick winners and losers (bank/car maker bailouts) is just wrong, and Solyndra is just one on a long line of what I see as an example of misguided spendings, that taken by itself, is chump change, but shows the flaw in trusting, expecting, or allowing govt to decide: this business shall succeed. Why? The reasons are always political, and I trust the market (that collective decision making of the citizens) over the influence-peddled, lobbied, donated-to, "I really like being a Senator and will do whatever is necessary to keep the job" guys and gals we elect. Now, I realize that opens up a new can o' worms, but let's not get too distracted! This then verges into philosophy (rather than party nitpicking, which I have tried to avoid), but that is where the crux is, isn't it? If you, like me, are a kind of Founding Principles guy, then it isn't a revenue problem, it's a political philosophy one: our Federal Government is doing way more then that wonderful document says it should be, so, the decisions get much easier. If it's not enumerated, no matter how worthwhile, no matter how kindly or whatever, (and here I wish for italics), the federal government doesn't get to do it. That doesn't mean it doesn't get done, there are all kinds of things the states are specifically enabled to do, but not the federal government.

Obviously, that isn't the only political philosophy at play in the country, so there will be a conversation about what should be done, what can be done, and how. I guess I will always fall on the individual liberty side: if the church decides it's wasteful to pay soloists, that it's right, right? Is it the government's job, and do they (or should they) have the right to determine what you called "wealth equality?" How? Seriously, how? Who gets to decide? I think we are all very reasonable people, and I wouldn't trust us to decide that because it isn't for us to decide, in my opinion, nor the govt. I'm back to the idea that no government of any country should be able to say "you get to succeed, but you are on your own" because those decisions are always tainted. One side will say the oil companies lobbied to gain dominance just as others will observe as Mike did, that alternative energy companies did the exact same thing. My thought is that if you remove the creeping ability of the government to reward the benefactors, then there may be no favoritism, as there will be no tax abatements, green energy loans, CO2 credits to curry favor or votes with. Imagine that! Of course, all those lobbyist jobs would be lost, as they will have nothing to lobby for when the Feds have no power to give their industry a dime.
How is it a function of the federal government? Confiscating a portion of one person's income to supplement another's? Again I ask, who gets to decide? Who do we trust? With the changes in power, office holders, etc. how can that possibly work? How's the track record so far for the federal war on poverty? Don't mistake me here, I'm not saying do nothing, just pointing out that of all the ways to help those in need, using a central government is possibly the worst choice, that's all.

Our country is a unique experiment, there is only our short history to try to get some lessons about how our representative republic with it's focus on individual liberty and free(ish) markets have worked, but it's been pretty powerful, I think. The other ways, central planning, benevolent dictatorships, monarchies, tyrannical despots, are all there marching through history saying "tried it, failed." century after century. I happen to think that we are in many ways fighting against very basic human natures, conflicting ones: the scary, yet liberating desire to be free against the desire to have someone, anyone, take care of us, to push away responsibility and say "you decide, fix it for me, you take care of me" because that is so much easier than being an independent, self-actualized person. We head toward wanting more from our government to do stuff because it feeds that side of our nature, and our founders knew this as well. Similarly, I think that free markets are the most humane markets, they provide the most dignity and hope for those that need it, that capitalism has rescued more people from poverty than governments ever have, as it is what exists when there is no imposed economic system. Show me every poor country in the world and we will see closed market, meddling government (usually corrupt strong central, personality-driven Marxist-leaning), despots, many democratically elected.
That's what makes America unique in all of human history. All of human history is a long time. To want or expect or wait for our government, even though they are largely nice people that we chose, to take care of us isn't US!

It absolutely is not the American Way.

No comments:

Post a Comment