They say the road to hell (or Los Angeles) is paved with good intentions.
I was a small child forty years ago in 1968 and I don't know how obvious it was that fixing big problems with big government wasn't going to work. Forty years of utter failure in so many areas has made it obvious in 2008. There is a self-serving, whining component of twentieth-century liberalism in America, but I believe a lot of its supporters meant well even if turned out badly.
P. J. O'Rourke said much of this better than I do. He said, "Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys" and wrote a nice piece on conservatism in America. Still, this is my web page and I get to put in my two-cents.
Just slowing Jimmy Carter's runaway growth of government was a major victory for Ronald Reagan's first term as President of the United States. His successor, the first President Bush, the father, was unable to continue that restraint. Bill Clinton created a surplus by cutting miliary spending the way a dying airline creates profits by cutting maintenance. The bill has to be paid later, often with substantial interest and penalties.
Not everything wrong with our country is the result of bad government. The Internet prosperity myth wasn't Washington's fault and neither was the crushing, crashing realization that people had spent their retirement savings in celebration of their newfound, non-existent wealth. Whatever caused the housing boom and bust clearly had a civilian, non-government component, probably the major component.
There is a short-sightedness in American business today that contributed plenty of grief in the American credit markets, especially mortgages, as well as the stock market. It's easy to look at Washington and to cry, "They should have done something!" but maybe it's our own fault. But now we're in a pickle, up the creek, and out of luck all at the same time.
From where I sit, American industry has clear mandate to get in gear and to become productive. Anything that interferes with that mandate needs to be dealt with or managed somehow. Corrupt unions, racial discrimination, and idiots promoted to management directly threaten our productivity and should be dealt with. Environmental and social issues require negotiation for appropriate trade-offs and should be managed.
Government has a clear mandate to get out of our way. America is a land of opportunity and responsibility. If the feds want to promote retirement saving and hurricane insurance, then that's great. If they bail people out for making bad decisions and make it clear they're going to bail them out next time, too, then that's not so great.
What about the rest of us in America? What's our mandate? It's simply to do our jobs in a productive way and if our jobs are not productive, then it's to find productive jobs to do and then to do them well. It's also to make it possible and practical for others to do the same, to show respect for productive people whether or not we like their skin color or their accents.
We're not afraid of the same things. The left-wing hippie wannabees are afraid of monopolies, pollution, war, and hate. I'm afraid of those things, too. But I'm more afraid of the institutions that these people created to deal with their fears. They've created different and nastier monopolies, pollution, war, and hate in their attempt to fix the problems. The grist that makes holocausts and world wars comes from the agencies and attitudes of do-gooders. I'm much more afraid of these and their consequences.
"We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America." It's not perfect, but it's better than what we have today.
I'm writing these essays now because I believe very strongly that one candidate in the 2008 November election comes a lot closer to promoting these values than the other. Without agreeing with everything they support, I believe John McCain and Sarah Palin will come a lot closer than their opponents to making my country someplace we all want to live in.
12:42:45 Mountain Standard Time (MST).
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