Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Back to the Future

As the incomparable Ronald Reagan once said, “We must not look to government to solve our problems. Government is the problem.” With Congress and the Administration scrambling madly in all directions to “solve” the critical problems of the day, it's easy to forget how those problems arose in the first place, and the most elemental solution to them. Since government is the problem; it should be obvious that radically less government is the answer! Of course those involved in wielding the powers of the state will never criticize or limit themselves. They will not even volunteer basic statistics that might inform the average American about the size, scope, and growth of government. Fortunately, with a little diligent research, that information can be unearthed. An excellent primer is this analysis by the Heritage Foundation - www.heritage.org/Research/Budget/bg1831.cfm#_ftn38 that explores the relationship between the size of government and its effect on economic growth. It is readily apparent that we have long passed the optimal point where government spending starts to stifle growth, and in light of the trajectory of the last several years, is about to flatten growth to near zero levels. In real dollar terms, the St. Louis Federal Reserve in 2006, http://research.stlouisfed.org/publications/review/06/01/GarrettRhine.pdf notes in the first paragraph that per capita spending, in real dollars, has grown from $129 dollars in 1910 to an astounding $7,100 per person in 2004! I can tell you with absolute certainty that it has probably doubled since then, and is currently on an unsustainable upward path with no end in sight,

So what do we do? Simply, as William F. Buckley said, “ A Conservative is a fellow who is standing athwart history yelling 'STOP'! We have to kick and yell and scream at the top of our lungs that government must stop! Stop spending – period – and immediately freeze expenditures right now. Stop increasing regulatory interference, which is nothing more than a hidden cost of government. Start looking at reality, and do what every businessman must do – a simple cost/benefit analysis of every existing agency, panel, commission, program, rule and regulation. While some level of government is absolutely necessary to provide for the common defense, maintain basic infrastructure, and provide for the administration of justice, most everything else is counter-productive and should, as the founders intended, be left to states and communities to provide for themselves. The time is long past when we can afford to indulge our every compassionate impulse and Utopian vision. Fairy tales are nice, but you can't live in dream castles. We're going to have to replace a whole lot of our benevolent, wise and noble politicians with hard-hearted, stone cold realists. In short, we can continue to rush headlong like lemmings off the cliff, or we can start a return to our original vision as a country. It is a travesty that we no longer study our founding documents, or the men who crafted them. I'll leave you with an excerpt from one of those “old dead white guys”, James Madison, who wrote this in Federalist Paper #62, discussing the need for cautious and reasoned legislation.

It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is today, can guess what it will be tomorrow. ...Every new regulation...presents a new harvest to those who watch the change, and can trace its consequences; a harvest reared not by themselves, but by the toils and cares of the great body of their fellow citizens....But the most deplorable effect of all is that diminution of attachment and reverence which steals into the hearts of the people towards a political system which betrays so many marks of infirmity, and disappoints so many of their flattering hopes. No government, any more than an individual, will long be respected without possessing a certain portion of order and stability.

It's back to the future, where the choice is still the same as it was 250 years ago – Live Free or Die!

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