By John F. Di Leo -
The Associated Press, in partnership with GfK, a German market research firm, jointly released a poll.
No big deal there, as people release polls every hour or two, especially in election season.
But this one was considered unusual, because it revealed a truth that scared the American Left to their very core: Americans don’t appear to trust government to solve their problems anymore.
As with every poll, interpretation is dependent on whether we trust the questions to have been asked objectively (we don’t), whether the respondents were given a comprehensive and clear array of possible answers to choose (they never are), and whether the sample was representative (increasingly challenging every day).
Surprisingly, in this unusual case, for whatever reason – even taking the above flaws into account – the results of this particular poll were shocking to the MSM. And since the MSM is never supposed to be shocked, and they believe their job is to pass on their own emotions to the news consuming public, they dutifully wrote their press releases (some antiquarians might still call them “news articles”) in such a way as to convey this very shock.
No matter what the threat, miniscule minorities are confident that government can keep them safe; even self-identified members of the Democrat party, yes, the “Damn the Torpedoes, Trust Government No Matter What Anyway!” party, have lost their once-robust faith in the idea that overpaid bureaucrats with badges and acronyms can work miracles in the realm of public safety and civil order. People now doubt whether government can protect them from newly severe threats like terrorists, perennial threats like criminals, or imaginary threats like Manmade Global Warming. They just don’t seem to trust government at all.
Not So Shocking
Of course, conservatives and historians weren’t shocked at all; if anything, these groups were relieved. The United States was never MEANT to be a country that trusts government to solve all ills.
The entire non-military federal government, which is today the biggest employer in the country, could fit in the White House and the Old Executive Office Building in Washington for the first century of our nation’s existence. Our nation was designed to foster a healthy and prosperous private sector, not to provide birth-to-death security from every imaginable threat, through the hand-holding management of a leviathan in a three-piece suit.
But over the last century, we have chosen – largely unconsciously – to place ever larger burdens on the shoulders of this once-small government. We have directed government to protect us from the possibility that a child might put a desktop game in his mouth, or the possibility that a smoker might not be able to figure out on his own that ingesting burning carbon fumes is unhealthy, or the possibility that one’s employer might be driven out of business by the crush of red tape, or the possibility that a life-saving drug might have some side effects… and we have built massive government agencies to address these risks.
In short, our country suffers from a galloping case of mission creep.
Ripped from the Headlines
If the MainStream Media (MSM) really wants to know why government is failing at the myriad responsibilities that a nervous public has stacked on its yoke, all they need to do is read their own headlines.
From the Chicago Tribune, October 3, 2014, we learn that “A woman charged with killing her sister in Carpentersville previously stabbed a man to death in an unrelated case, but was found not guilty by reason of insanity.” She stabbed the man in Tennessee more than 120 times in 2001, and was released into her family’s care by the courts “over prosecutor’s objections.”
When you ask a government to protect you from mad killers, but then simultaneously refuse to punish mad killers because you feel sorry for their madness, can you really complain that the government’s level of protection is imperfect? It’s not the prosecutor’s fault that mixed messages from the public prompted a fool judge to err on the side of the psycho killer’s family’s self-destructive wishes.
Also from the Chicago Tribune, October 3, 2014, we learn that five criminals were “busted in a brazen heist” in Chicago’s Gold Coast, having stolen four hundred grand in luxury wristwatches. The gang of illegal immigrants had rap sheets including identity fraud, robbery, and immigration violations. At least three had previously been deported, but here they were, back again, committing more crimes. Deportation doesn’t quite hold the aura of finality that it once did, in an era of airlines and porous borders.
When you ask a government to protect you from robbers, but then simultaneously refuse to enforce the borders to keep criminals out of the country, and refuse to lock up criminals but instead just pay for airfare to send them away for the weekend, can you really expect the community to be immune from burglars, rapists, drug dealers, and all the other criminals who flourish in the pool of the undocumented?
In the first nine months of this year, the city of Chicago alone has reportedly seen some 2000 shootings, resulting in hundreds of fatalities and thousands of injuries… and that’s just the ones that have been reported! The statistics are never a surprise; the preponderance of perpetrators are repeat offenders. They always are.
We COULD protect the community from these villains, if we wanted to. We do catch them, and we do prosecute them, and once in a while, despite our insanely skewed-toward-the-thug criminal justice system, we do convict them.
But then we let them out, on “time served,” or some similarly, ridiculously short period of time. There was a time when criminals spent so long in a cell, they’d counted the cinder blocks in their walls, the tiles in their floors, the wires in their bunks, the bars in their hallway boundary. Today, they’re barely there long enough to learn their cellmate’s name.
And we wonder why people lack confidence that government can protect them against threats.
Jack of All Trades
There’s an old saying: “Jack of all trades, master of none.” The message, from time immemorial, has been that there is a limit to how far any one, or any team, can be stretched, without compromising their ability to do all that is asked of them.
Our Founding Fathers wisely designed a system with a narrow role for government – coin money, defend the borders, manage disagreements between the states, maintain the rule of law. This wasn’t just for the Federal government; no, our Founders believed in small government at EVERY level. From the nearby town hall to the distant national capitol building, our Founders wanted to keep every level of government small enough to be watched, small enough to be analyzed at election time and be reformed if necessary in the next administration.
The current system, as we end this destructive century of bloat that began in the Wilson Administration, attempts so much that it cannot possibly succeed in meeting anyone’s expectations.
You CAN’T protect people from criminals if you’re squeamish about punishing the convicted. You CAN’T foster job growth if you’re so terrified of corporations that you regulate them to death. You CAN’T ensure good healthcare for almost everyone if you’re so terrified that one patient will get a nicer room than another that you spend half your healthcare budget in writing rules and establishing artificial government “marketplaces” and websites and authorization panels to choke off any actual healthcare!
Over the decades, as farming became ever more productive, while government simultaneously grew ever more bureaucratic, a favorite joke in Washington concerned a guy who sees a friend, a caseworker at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, sitting, head in hand, sad and bored on a park bench. “Why so glum?” the fella asked his friend. Came the reply: “My farmer died.”
That joke worked, thirty years ago, because only the USDA was considered that bloated. Today, the same goes for so many federal and state agencies, the USDA’s purported (though exaggerated) one-to-one ratio of caseworkers-to-farmers no longer even stands out as odd.
A Solution that Pleads to be Remembered
Back to our poll: the AP/GfK survey tells us that people are worried because their government can’t be counted on to do everything for them anymore.
Well, there IS a solution, and all it takes is a bit of wisdom… not our own wisdom, mind you, but the wisdom of the Founders:
All we need to do is dust off the Constitution and remember what was originally proposed, the system that provided our nation with over a century of robust and unprecedented growth.
All we really need to do is say NO… to the mission creep that a century of leftists have imposed on every level of government. We can cut back the overgrown bureaucracies of Washington, Springfield, Trenton and Sacramento. We can again devote our governments to their REAL jobs, providing security for patents, copyrights, real estate and other property rights… coining money without overprinting of currency that causes a slow and secret devaluation… guarding our borders from anyone who jumps the line and thereby cheats the good, decent immigrants who’ve been waiting honorably for a slot for years.
It can be done, and it’s not hard. Our government could again be the small, compact, dedicated protector of a few specific social goods, as defined in the Constitution.
All it takes is the election of the right people, and the firing of the wrong ones. Tossing out the Senate Majority Leadership this fall would go a long way… and tossing out the incompetent king of micromanagement, Barack H. Obama, would go even further. Between his appointments and his executive orders, the federal government lost track of its real jobs years ago.
Or let’s put it another way: if you want the government to be able to put handcuffs on criminals, you have to stop telling the government to put handcuffs on everyone else too!
Thirty years ago, President Ronald Reagan enunciated the Founders’ vision, as he reminded us that “Government isn’t the solution to our problems; too often, government IS the problem.”
If there is to be any prayer of our nation finding its way out of its current malaise, the philosophy of Ronald Reagan needs to again be quoted, disseminated… and implemented.
November can’t come soon enough.
Copyright 2014 John F. Di Leo
John F. Di Leo is a Chicago-based Customs broker and international trade compliance lecturer. He spent the Reagan years as a young Republican activist with Northwestern University’s College Republicans, the Maine Township Regular Republicans, and numerous civic groups and political campaigns. A former county chairman of the Milwaukee County Republican Party, he has now been a recovering politician for over 17 years (but, like any addiction, you’re never really cured).
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