Thursday, June 23, 2011

What's wrong with having Big Government?

[From a weblog I used to write.]

Someone recently asked me why I was opposed to Big Government. I guess I've been a conservative for too long--my first reaction was How can anyone *not* be opposed to it?

Still, it's a good question. After all, on the surface of things, a lot of government programs seem like a good idea. Food stamps, for example. Who wants to see people starving in the streets? Or farm subsidies. Who can be opposed to support for the family farmer, who's been tilling the land for generations?

But the problem with programs like this is that they're so broadly defined that they end up robbing the poor to give to the rich--and the definitions keep getting broader. Social Security gets paid to people who make a lot more money than I ever will; farm subsidies go to millionaires whose farm interests are marginal at best; people are getting food stamps whose biggest problem isn't malnutrition but obesity.

Well, there's a little fraud and waste in everything, I suppose. Some sharpie will always be able to work the angles. The problem gets out of hand, though, when there's nothing but angles to be worked, and the help for those who truly need it comes at a staggeringly high cost.

For example, the government spends millions of dollars a month on various anti-smoking campaigns--yet also pays subsidies to tobacco farmers.

The programs themselves need to justify their existence, so they are constantly on the lookout for more ways to interfere. A program that helps abused children will see abused children everywhere; a service that provides translation services for immigrants will try to get a law passed that requires the availability of their translators on every streetcorner.

When the providers of goods (let's use the example everyone loves to hate: prescription drugs) know that not only the costs but the prices will be paid with other people's money, they not only have no incentive to control prices, but are actively encouraged to raise prices as much as possible (regardless of costs).

So, the cost to the government skyrockets. But wait--government doesn't pay for anything. The only way they get money is by taking it from someone else. So we pay for everything through taxes. (And in case you haven't been paying attention, taxes aren't something the government is entitled to--it's our money, involuntarily taken away from us.)

If, for example, the government said, "Cars are expensive, but people need to get around, so we'll pay for everyone to have a car." Pretty soon, cars would be unthinkably expensive--not only would manufacturers make the most advanced cars they could, people would demand the best transportation available.

Imagine, though, if government simply stayed the hell out of it, and didn't subsidize things like healthcare. Would some people suffer? You bet they would. But if medical treatment priced itself right out of a market, offering drugs and treatments that no one could afford, don't you think they'd pressure themselves into finding more economical solutions? And guess what--people are suffering anyway. There's no government program on the planet that can stop people from dying--they can only slow it down. More to the point, the tax dollars that go to programs like Medicare are dollars that are taken from individuals and businesses--so those individuals and businesses can't use those dollars for other things, such as expansion, or research and development, or education, or a new home.

Then there's another dimension of the problem--the removal of freedom. Every time people turn to the government to "fix" something, they've rejected the idea that they can do it for themselves. Self-reliance is a core American characteristic (or so I always thought). Government doesn't do anything without having lots of strings attached--and the more strings you have attached to you, the less you're able to move.

These aren't simple matters, and there are no simple solutions. Turning to government, however, is one way not to do it.

The basic idea of government is to alleviate suffering and unfairness by spreading it out. Each of us hurts a little (taxes) to prevent a few people from hurting a lot (those on Medicare, people in bankruptcy, etc.). A noble idea, and in some ways achievable (roads, for example). But government has overreached itself. Now, instead of mitigating these things, it has convinced itself (and a lot of voters) that it can eliminate suffering and unfairness.

I thought that was God's purpose. Frankly, I trust Him a lot more than I do anyone in government.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Headline: Universities partner to dying save languages

"Universities partner to dying save languages"

Including English, obviously.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Contest on Catholic Bible weblog!

Here, check it out!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Lowering the US carbon footprint

Apparently there's a move to get the U.S.* to lower its "carbon footprint".

How much lower would it be if we sent all illegal aliens back to their native countries?

*which is becoming less "U" every day

40,000 Americans stuck in England?

Too bad they're not Haitian refugees; the Navy would send an aircraft carrier to evacuate them to the US.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Obama's View of Private Industry vs. Government

So, our great socialist president thinks that private industry can do a better job with the space program than NASA can?

Where was this attitude when it came to health care, financial services, the automotive industry, or mortgages?

All it means is that he thinks the space program is a waste of time; otherwise, he'd want another trillion dollars for it--and have it be under the stultifying yoke of Big Brother.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Obama's Stalingrad

One of my favorite weblogs is Power Line; in this post, John Hinderaker refers to the necromancy of the Democratic Party with their foolishness trying to pass health care legislation that the people clearly don't want:

"Now the Democrats are back on health care, sort of like Napoleon returning to Waterloo."

With all due respect to John, a much better historical analogy is Hitler's assault on Stalingrad, where, to the detriment and eventual defeat of his army, he focused on capturing the city bearing Stalin's name, instead of merely bypassing it in the Blitzkrieg tradition. Month after month, Hitler poured precious divisions into the meatgrinder of the city, which Stalin was just as determined to defend--while preparing to counterattack.

Not a pretty sight in 1942, and not pretty in 2010.