Political Expediency

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I have a very good friend with whom I occasionally discuss politics. We agree on many of the small details, but in a big detail way, we tend to vote for opposite parties. For, while there is so much we both want to see from and in our country, he thinks that can be best achieved through a large and strong central government whereas I, on the other hand, believe the better solution to be a small government or—barring that—anarchy.

One of our Presidents or statesmen is said to have opined that, “The government that governs best is the government that governs least.” If we mean “least” as in “most ineffectually”, then that man (or woman, I’m not going to all the trouble to look this stuff up, you’re going to have to do some of the work yourself) has his (or her) wish. We have an incredibly ineffectual government if the effect we’re striving for is something esoteric like, oh, I don’t know, competence?

For instance, our government, which is telling us it may not have enough money to pay its obligations, is in the midst of spending millions of dollars on a research grant that involves putting shrimp on a treadmill. No, I’m not kidding. Our President is telling us to take a “stay-cation” (that’s where you “vacation” by “staying at home”) while he throws himself a party on the taxpayer’s dime for what he’s pretty sure is his fiftieth birthday. Congress, meanwhile, promises to protect those Social Security checks … somehow, but is not offering to go without their paychecks in order to meet that obligation.

And, let’s not forget the “stimulus”, which sounded like something you would be offered in a particularly unsavory and unwanted email, and was supposed to create new jobs. It created jobs, all right, at a cost of over $200,000 per job. Let’s see, without picking up a calculator, that means they “created” my job almost seven times … only to come out with an unemployment rate that’s about twice as high as when they started. I figure that’s about how well those email stimulants would work, too, considering the senders aren’t even competent enough to use a spell-checker when they offer cut-rate “Viagara” and “See-Alice”.

Now, if the by “government that governs best is the government that governs least” we mean that the ideal is a government that just protects our life, liberty and happiness and, otherwise, gets the heck out of the way … no, we don’t have that. Not only is the government setting itself up to tell us which doctors we can use and which insurance agents we may not patronize on penalty of death, in many municipalities the local children can’t set-up a good-old traditional lemonade stand unless they first get a food-service permit and post the nutritious facts of the lemonade.

It’s not that I’m complaining. For one thing, I don’t think complaining accomplishes much. I think it’s just that I’ve been out in the heat way too much. Once I’ve cooled off I’ll think more cogently and I’m sure I’ll be more favorably inclined toward my government, especially if they give me one of those free air conditioners they’re spending my tax dollars on.