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Letter: How Much Government Is Enough?

Obviously the citizens of 1776 had had enough. Their government ruled through absolute tyranny. Taxation was completely overbearing, justice absent and the people oppressed. Who knows by what courage a leadership council arose to defy their masters and by what loyalty a people followed. It is a rare and precious thing.

I’m not saying today is the day that our government has become completely useless but it is certainly headed in that direction. Every politician comes into office with promises of change but comes upon a people who expect everything and want to pay nothing for it. So, they trick the tricksters by offering everything at the cost of nothing, charge us even more obtrusively and give us even less obstructively. Are they to blame or are we? We must pay for the government we want and we must demand the government we pay for.

If we want a government to support our every need then we must give up our every freedom, it’s as simple and as complex as that. If we want a government to insure that no one is sick without a doctor, no one is hungry without a meal and no one is unemployed without a paycheck then we must give up our freedom to spend our money as we see fit. We must give up our pursuit of happiness in order to have a pursuit of comfort. The original Declaration of Independence stated the right to a pursuit of profit not the pursuit of happiness. It is interesting to note that without the pursuit of profit one cannot pursue happiness. Put aside all the talk of “the rich;” the “investor class” having to pay more taxes; the poor and the middle class are getting taxed to death under this government. Every time you use your cell phone, buy a gallon of gas, buy anything at all, travel over any bridge you are being taxed seven ways from Sunday. It is unruly, burdensome and obstructive and unneighborly and we downright asked for it.

What amount of government is enough? From a local level, we need schools, police, and firefighters. We need flexible schools. If a population of children doubles in 10 years of course the number of teachers and schools must double. What happens if the same population halves in ten years. Oh, you cannot fire teachers, they have tenure. You can retire some of the teachers and downsize through attrition and possibly transfer some teachers but you cannot halve your expense. You’ll be lucky if the expense only stays the same while the student population is halving. The same goes for every other unionized civil servant position. Interesting word, servant isn’t it?

We need to have the services we need and not have the services we don’t need. We need enough schooling for our children and no more. We need to have roads and have those roads maintained. President Eisenhower had the vision in 1956 to create a federal road system. That was a boon for America with roads, interstates and commerce. Along with that we must accept seat belt laws and cell phone driving laws. As harassing as they might seem at times we need to do sensible things to keep our population safe. Therein is a difficult gray area - how much government interference is enough. Should the government be able to mandate that we must drive 50 mpg two-seater death traps? It would seem not. On the other hand should the government mandate that we all must strap in with a $5 piece of leather that will save 10,000 lives every year? Most of us would say yes. It is not always as clear-cut as this. The problem here is that common sense doesn’t translate well into law and law doesn’t translate well into common sense.

From a federal level we need a military, we are the envy and scorn of the world and we must keep ourselves safe. We need independent courts to keep law. We need to regulate money and enforce the law. What else do we need? Education and scientific research seems prudent. What about a safety net? Therein lies the difficulty. How much of a safety net is enough? We have come to the point at which we are considering covering everybody for everything. It is not enough to ask how much should I get out of a system in which I have invested that is in what we call Social Security to how much do I need out of a system in which everybody has invested. There is not enough money in the world to satisfy everybody’s need even if the system of determination and delivery were perfect which it is not. Haven’t the Communists taught us that already? It was drilled in my head as a sixth grader. There should be a safety net, in today’s money it would be $12,000, let’s say one-third poverty level per year for a 65-year-old and catastrophe insurance in the tune of $10,000 in a calendar year at any age. That is my level of safety net. Is it enough to live comfortably on? No, but that is not my problem. If you want to be comfortable, work, go to school, and make something of yourself. If you cannot or do not want to it is not my problem, I think I am quite generous in providing you with something that other societies do not provide you with.

In a way it is nice to have a government that regulates everything. I don’t want to have to worry about tainted milk when I buy powdered milk for my baby or diarrhea when I go to Taco Bell or SUVs that flip over. On the other hand, I don’t want somebody to give people a mortgage they can’t afford because the government thinks they should have one either. Our government, while not completely broken, had broken elements. If you want to waste our money today that’s one thing but if you want to waste our future money that’s another thing. This government has been putting us in debt for thirty years and it will take another thirty years to pay it off. Our debt is five times what the government earns in a year.

What I want from my government is less. I want less taxes and less services. The thing about getting lean is it cuts out more fat than meat. Yes, we would lose some vital services and the fight would be over what to keep and what to axe but I tell you what, when you cut, the axe has a greater chance of cutting fat than cutting bone. Let’s start cutting. People right now are being squeezed, our local taxes are going up, our paychecks are going down and we’re being forced to downsize.

We are standing on the edge of a cliff. We are going to take away good medical coverage for those who work and give it to those who don’t. Are we nuts? When your beloved family members die because they are told they can’t get a procedure that will save their lives, meanwhile the moochers get the golden treatment, you will see a country in riot. This government is more than enough and it’s time to make it less.

Peter LaBarca