Yesterday, I was reading Charles C.W. Cook's excellent National Review article, "Why I Despair", and something jumped out at me that I would like to address. Actually, my wife read it first and pointed this one out to me, but it jumped out even more after I read it myself.
So many in our society are rolling over and not only letting government take over their lives, but actively demanding it.
What have we become?
On page three of the article, Cooke says the following:
"In 2010, on the BBC’s Question Time — a British current-affairs show on which the guests trip over one other to display the appropriate degree of fealty to whichever orthodoxy is in the news that week whilst the audience tries to be as clever as one can be without doing any reading — the question of impending government spending cuts was raised. One audience member stood up and, waving her hands around, asked who would mow her elderly mother’s lawn if the government no longer did it. The audience clapped. The host looked serious. Not a single person on the panel said, “You!” Neither of the putatively Conservative guests even raised an eyebrow. A particularly oleaginous MP proceeded to tell her that it was a “good question.” I threw a coffee cup at my television."I had to do a double-take, as I could not believe somebody could seriously ask that question, and nobody would call them on it.
When I was in high school, I mowed the lawns of both sets of grandparents. It would never even have occurred to us to wonder if we could somehow get the government to do it. When I went off to college, I still did it in the Summer and I think my Dad did it when I wasn't around. Somebody in the family did, anyway. If it had become an issue, we would have hired some local kid.
THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD NOT HAVE A DEPARTMENT OF LAWN-MOWING.
This is the mind-set we're dealing with, where everything is a government program, where we don't rely on ourselves to actually get anything done.
The idea that conservatives put forward of "self-reliance" has been misconstrued so badly, as sort of a "everyone must fend for themselves!" type mentality. That couldn't be further from the truth. When we say "self-reliance," it's things like this, that you should not be depending on the government for. Government should not be mowing your lawn. Government should not be shutting down kids' lemonade stands because the kids didn't "obtain a peddler’s license, a food license, and pay $50 per day for a temporary business permit."
Where do you draw the line? When you demand that government do everything for you, how can you say that you're living your life at all? It's not your life if you're not doing anything for it.
Privacy? Many liberals decry the invasive policies of the TSA and their airport security procedures. Of wire-tapping and demanding that cell-phone companies cooperate in anti-terrorist activities, to name two examples. Sorry, but you can't have it both ways. If you're demanding that government should provide everything in your life, then you don't get to complain when they take that extra mile forward that you allowed them to take. You let them in the door.
It's like a home invasion in one sense. If you open the door for the robber and say "come on in," you don't get to demand that they only take the broken microwave that's sitting on the counter. The robber will also take that nice brand-spanking new TV you just bought.
This is an honest question to all of you out there: where DO you draw that line? How much government intrusion is too much?
Lawn mowing? Lemonade stands? Diet? Should there be a Department of Diet Control that you submit your grocery list to every week and they strike off the stuff that's bad for you? Where they come and inspect your home every week to make sure you're not hiding any candy or cookies, especially if you have two kids? Where they weigh all of your kids and take them away from you if they've become too big because you're obviously a bad parent?
I don't think any of you want that. I hope you don't.
So why do you want them running any other aspect of your life?
It just boggles my mind.
Why do you trust the government to make one choice for you but not another? The common perception is that all politicians are crooks, or greedy, or corrupt, or out for themselves, or whatever. Nobody likes a politician, and such has been the feeling for hundreds, if not thousands of years. Remember that old Mark Twain quote? "Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself."
And you want these people making your life choices?
In Calgary at least, they also serve a number of schools where kids are not having their nutritional needs met.
This is a charity, with volunteers and donations. It's not a government program. If it were a government program, it would be so fraught with waste, abuse and bureaucracy that it wouldn't be funny.
There used to be a time where we all looked out for each other. Society as a whole took care of its own. Families looked after their loved ones; churches looked out for their flocks. Charities took care of those who couldn't help themselves and had nobody else.
We have developed a society recently with a "me-first" mentality. These people not only don't look after their fellow human beings, but have instilled a "I don't need to do it because the government will" attitude as well.
It's all a vicious circle. When we demand government do everything for us, we figure that the government will help so we don't have to. Since nobody's actually helping anybody, the government steps in, blasting through that open door that this mentality has provided it.
How can we break this cycle?
I wish I knew. But if we don't, society will continue to deteriorate to the point where it's unsalvageable.
If it's not already there.
*Edit* Just came across this brilliant quote from an otherwise not-so-brilliant President Gerald Ford, which sums it up beautifully.
"A government big enough to give us anything is strong enough to take everything"