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Letter: Government’s Purpose Is to Serve the People

I’d like to propose that 2010 be the year people begin to think about good government because, as Irish nationalist Michael Collins said of an independent Emerald Isle, considering it a reality is the first step towards it becoming a reality.

Good government is the issue because bad government is the chief cause of America’s potentially fatal economic woes. (By “fatal” I mean that there is a chance that, within the next 15 years, the United States will collapse the way the Soviet Union did in 1991).

Banking institutions are free to fire their American employees and outsource their jobs to India but are forced by government regulations to loan them money even though they are now likely to default on the loan. The government then bails out the bank using the tax dollars of the bank’s former American employees. Hydrogen and oxygen may yield life-giving water, but a mixture of anarchy and tyranny doesn’t produce anything viable.

Our own Emerald Isle (which has more people than Ireland) is one that’s off the coasts of Rhode Island and Connecticut but is part of otherwise land-locked New York State - taken away from Connecticut’s jurisdiction by a vengeful Duke of York anxious to punish the Hartford government for allowing some of Cromwell’s men to live there in safe exile. Now I think that the Empire State is just fine but the needs of Rensselaer and Oswego counties are not the needs of Nassau and Suffolk counties and home rule would be more effective.

The question of home rule on Long Island underscores the whole issue of government by a multiplicity of special districts vs. government by consolidated municipal entities. Do we want to be lorded-over by amateurish local yokels with Napoleonic complexes or by distant faceless professional bureaucrats enamored of their own sense of entitlement and swayed less by their next door neighbor’s entreaties than by the onslaught of special interest groups? There is, of course, a third approach to government. It’s manifested in the idea that taxes, fees, and fines are collected for something other than the collection of taxes, fees, and fines. It’s manifested in the idea that government exists for something other than to provide lucrative jobs to the friends and family members of politicians. (There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with nepotism - only nepotism when it acts as government’s principal reason for functioning). It’s also manifested in the idea that, like water, government needs to seek its own level; determining the appropriate jurisdictional level for a public service when said service cannot be better provided by the private sector.

Government existing to serve the people whose taxes finance it is a radical idea and, as I metaphorically hoist the blue-and-orange flag of the Paumanok Republic, I suppose I’ll be placed on some watch list for advocating it. But it’s 2010 and time we started considering it a reality.

Paul Manton