Beware Reform, Do-Gooders & Busybodies.

It’s easy to just pick on people all the time. But there’s a time when there has to be a reason other than to just say “stupid” or “idiot.” Something more is required than simply trashing people if we’re to get a handle on the problems of this nation. And it’s easy to make short posts while picking on people; the nasty joke is but a few words or an image. Ah, but the bigger picture, the reality of the size and scope of the problem must be dealt with if one’s attitude towards it all is to be affected. Otherwise, if you just tinker with this or that, which is just maintaining this convoluted system. It’s not just the IRS or the DOE or the NEA — it’s the entire package of beliefs which has developed. And so I go through as many of the big one as I can. But at the heart of it all, is a personality type — the reformer, the do-gooder, the busybody, buttinsky, what word do you want to use. People who think they know best for others.

I once bought a house in Florida It was cheap, with a private mortgage. I bought it from a man who I never even met through a realtor friend of my mom’s for the asking price. My closing costs were $75 because I contested nothing. The deal was too good to pass up. A huge yard, and a small odd house that was diagonally placed on the rectangular lot. The property included a half a small lake, on which other side sat the house of the brother of the man I bought the house from. Though I did not know that second bit at the time. He turned into a busybody, that’s for sure.

I like plants. Lots of them. So I started planting. The yard was a lot of lawn. I hate lawn. So I took out bits and pieces and entire swaths of the lawn and started putting in plants, shrubs, trees, and anything else living I could find. And I didn’t buy a bit of it. I found it all, or got them from friends. And before I knew it I had a small farm and jungle growing and I had reduced the lawn by oh, 40%. I thought that was a good start. The brother complained right to my face, and I was like – what? “Get lost.”

Then one day I came home and there was this note on my door from an anonymous neighbor who complained that my yard had too many plants. I was like, “you got to be kidding me.” And I figured out whom that person was, starting with the brother who clearly hadn’t left it, by going through the small neighborhood on the other side of the lake and the brother’s house – since my house was the only house on this side of the lake, and I was across the street from a rather skanky bar and its parking lot. I knocked on every door until I saw the “deer in the headlights” look that gave away the owner of the note. And I made it clear, don’t tread on me or my garden. I pay the mortgage and the taxes, and it’s none of your business. That person was a reformer, a do-gooder and a busybody. Instead of just letting people be she had to butt into someone else’s life because she knew better how to live it.

She’s just a typical politician or lobbyist, or campaigner for some cause. They know how to run other people’s lives, so they gain political power. Sometimes it’s just at the community board level, to maintain community standards and the right color palate in the homeowner association’s rule book. My house was not in such a controlled place. I wouldn’t buy in a HOA if you paid me. The idea is abhorrent to me. But if that’s what you want, knock yourself out. But busybodies and reformers are the sort who make sure that every neighborhood has a HOA, even if it’s just the local zoning commission. Which is one reason I always loved Houston, Texas – there’s no zoning commission. Nope, no zoning much of any kind, except there are “deed restrictions” on some of the property that one can buy. Which is a sort of zoning, but it’s fixed, and you know what it is, and it can’t be subject to political pressure from some do-gooder out to reform the property rules. But at least HOAs are local, and you can avoid them.

If you want to clean up your community, then go get a bag and clean up your community. Walk around and pick stuff up. Get your friends and family to do so too. Better yet, why is no one teaching “don’t litter” concepts in schools and at home? Who are all these parents not stopping their kids from littering? Take care of your own. But don’t come and tell me I have to pay a tax to write laws creating anti-littering programs. You want to donate to that cause, then do so. And there is a lot of this sort of volunteerism, though it only seems to be after the fact. For the litter must come first. I was in New Orleans five days after Katrina, now there was some litter in the streets. But I couldn’t bring myself to drop a candy wrapper but put it in my pocket until a proper receptacle was found. OK, so I’m weird. Nah, it’s normal. I see people throw stuff out of their cars. They give small bags away at every store in the nation. Put one in the car. Switch it every day for all I care, if you make that much garbage. But out the window? Now that’s weird.

Then there’s the busybodies for the climate and the environment. They’ve really gone hog wild. Apparently, though, some site called Climate Depot, which, oh, I’ll guess, www.climatedepot.com – you’re on your own, I’m too lazy to do anything today – shows such fears as just lies. Lies by busybodies to gain political power. And that’s what the political class is doing. They’ve done it a lot already, but oh there’s so much more that can be done. There’s still taking over the oil companies and more of the banks yet. To make it fairer, and all of us to have a voice. Well, when 300,000,000 people have a voice no one is heard. And when those same 300 million turn their voices over to less and less people we’re going to be told to shush. It’s the way of government.

You can almost count the number of laws and see how repressive regimes are. The more laws, the more controls over the economy there are, the more repression there must be. It’s impossible to maintain a one size fits all oil company owned by 300,000,000 Americans and have it work out well. A few connected folks will get in charge and that will start the corruption and the funds to cronies instead of to the bottom line. But already there’s calls to “nationalize” the oil companies for the good of the people. This is not good. It’s not for the “people,” ever. It’s only for the few who get into the positions of power. In fact, a US Oil Company run by a CEO will not at all be different than Exxon run by its CEO. Only it’ll be bigger. And so much less accountable, for we can’t put it out of business. And no one else can. The joy of capitalism is to grow bigger until someone comes along to get bigger still, which happens because there’s more people through the ages. Exxon couldn’t have made this much money in 1940, there were less people, less cars, more people walking around. Exxon’s wealth shows we are wealthy.

But when the reformers and the do-gooders get a hold of it it will be whether it is fair and equal and perhaps it’ll be free but we’ll be allocated this or that amount according to the plan, and the numbers won’t make a difference. Indeed, the idea of “social fairness” presupposes that you make everyone poorer for you can’t make everyone richer without inflating the currency to mint a millionaire a minute.

There’s busybodies galore in education. They have the one and only best way to educate kids and all kids must be taught this way or it’s unfair because we’re all in this together, except, well, no, I’ve never been to Wisconsin and have no plans on going to that fine place, and so what happens there is not my business. But it’s been made my business because of the Federal Department of Education trying to make rules and laws that everyone must adhere to or else. And of course per pupil spending must be identical as if the amount of teaching any pupil might require is the exact same amount, and the type or style which is best suited to the pupil must be the same because the pupils are all the same. Right. Conformity is the evil there.

And education reform is all about conforming to the reformers do-gooding, for they have studied the issue, they say. And most of what they studied is about the administration of education, and not much about say, 2 + 2, H2O or the IRS, or anything. All the educators are educated in educating, I’m sure. But what exactly they know about the subject they teach beyond what’s in the approved textbook which they shall not deviate from lest reality runs afoul of the plans and the reforms, I don’t know. And now we argue over the tax burden for schools that don’t seem to teach, and no child is left behind because the standards have been lowered to point that even the stupidest pupils are honor students with strong self-esteem but no clue as to where Mexico is.

Which is the problem with taxes – they’re too high because do-gooders and busybodies have gotten the ear of Congress for “urban renewal” without a single renewed urban area to speak of, but billions spent. The Inner City is still in the inner city, indeed, from the looks of it. The poverty rate is the same, so the “War on Poverty” did not work. The teen pregnancy rate seems to go up and down depending on the number of teens that might be in the pipeline, but not by much. And of course, there’s the violence, so much violence. Entire TV shows given over to reporting the violence. Quite a trip what folks do to each other because of dissing the self-esteem or something. Very touchy people, indeed, lashing out at the slightest insult.

Social security is broke, and the do-gooders what to merely change nothing and hope for the best – I’m supposed to be on this side or that side, after having heard the debate of course. Or the countervailing do-gooders want to raise or lower this or that, and I’m to join them. So we fiddle here and there with that or these things and rules and ages and means and whatever else they get all riled up about in their effort to help the little old lady who can’t fix her house because the government has decreed that she had to pay into the system all her life for her investment in her retirement and they’re keeping the interest instead of her having earned it. Now they’re doling out a preset amount that is not at all based on the amount invested. It’s tricky, for money is collected, and pooled, and the interest collected and used for administration of course. And then the pool is divvied up by some formula that is inscrutable.

And we have to go down to the SS Administration (whose initials are so punful as to be scary) and give our number (which also has shades of things I don’t like thinking about) and be told all about the wonders of whether we’re eligible for our own money and how much of it and when. And that we’re never ever to consider a change to the system because it was created and saw to be good 70 years ago and to suggest any change other than the change you’re supposed to be for after the debate means you want granny dead.

Now they’re working on telling us through the health care on how to spend our money too. That will open a whole plethora of fine ways we will be instructed on how to spend our money. If we’re made to buy this product, we’ll be made to buy other products. We will buy this or that, and pay for this or that for everyone else, so that everyone gets their fair share of whatever it is there is to give away. And we’re being given our very own money, but first it’s taken and sent to DC and sees the Cherry Trees and some of it, a lot of it even, drifts off into the suburbs in the nice houses of federal bureaucrats to devise forms allowing us our money back. And a lot of our money is being given to friends of the lobbyists and politicians and to other good people I guess, who we’re told deserve our money more than we do because they need to maintain this or that national priority of some sort that I’m told we have.

And I have a voice of course, and if I contact my congressman I might get what I want done and spent on, instead of what my neighbor wanted because he called just 15 minutes before I did to give his priorities. Which are most assuredly not at all what my priorities are, I’d wager, and I’m not a betting man. And then the Congressperson gets I’m sure all sorts of advice and direction from a wide range of sources, on how to spend other people’s money. And everyone in his district, all 750,000 are completely not happy with how their taxes are being spent. And the congressperson only has to get in once and he’ll be there for quite some time for he uses our own money to ensure he’s reelected every two years forever and ever till death do we part sometimes. It’s like we’re married to the politician or something, and having this marital discussion with them over the kitchen table about how the family finances should be allocated. And then, alas, the spouse, the senator or congressperson, goes off and does what the hell they want anyway.

And of late, they’ve run up the credit cards, maxed out the prepaid cards, stripped the savings accounts of every last dime, and so complicated the records, if they bothered to keep any at all, that the nation is ready for a divorce of some kind.

No one is happy. No one. And that’s because everyone thinks he’s entitled to his three favorite things to outlaw, and three to control, and three to prohibit, and three to require of other people. It’s quite a trip, everyone’s got an opinion on how the politics should be and what the money should be spent on. And absolutely everyone wants reform and good done and for it to be fair. And no one really wants to tolerate anyone else’s version of what these three things should be.

And thus the country is going nuts. And it’s obvious. And we had better return to a far less busy government with a far diminished place in our lives, so we might keep more of our own money and do what we do, and either put down a lawn or a garden and be left alone to enjoy it, or we’re going to wreck the place.

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