What is “big government”?
A frequent commentator at this blog has posed to me a question:
“so a gay person who leans to the right, and is against big government,
can you please explain what you mean by big government?
is it the control of womens reproductive life?or is it destroying entitlement programs,
so we can be more like el salvador, where most of the people are poor,
and the rich and big corporations rule the country,
so jim what do you mean by big government? please explain it.”
(that’s exactly how it was written.)
I shall endeavor to answer him; in part. For a full answer would require a book:
Perhaps one of the best examples of the conundrum of big government of our times are things like the fracas over a government grant for the “arts” to an artist who thought “art” was putting a crucifix into a jar of urine. The liberty person in me says: go to it. Do as you wish. Seek your audience. Ply your trade. Expose your wares. Get what you can. The decency person in me says: why bother? If your intent is to rile up, why? Is there not enough grief in this nation? Not enough grief in your life? Do we need to invent new methods? Yes, you have a right, I don’t question that. But you have a human duty to make nice, this I ask. Such people are always of the “don’t discriminate” vibe … but nothing is more discriminatory than to take a symbol many millions hold dear and make a mockery of it. If thou shall not be mocked, mock not the others; yea, but teach by example. Reach out a clean hand to give the peace, and say “hello.”
But what’s truly amazing, big government wise, is the funding for this “art.” Sure, anyone can buy a $1.99 crucifix – they are by the dozens in Christian stores sea to shining sea. And anyone can pee in a jar; why, for ½ the nation it’s a regular occurrence down at the doctor’s office, or applying for a job. But the man needed tens of thousands of dollars in the form of a grant from the NEA, or NEH, (twins, mere twins, to cut the “cost in half” for the apathetic public,) to pick up a crucifix and a jar? The pee is natural, no cost, of course; except for fluids the day before. Well, no, that’s big government. You have the right to be an idiot; you have no “right” to expect the rest of us to pay for it. Every dollar he got, and every dollar spent in making sure got the money ill spent “big government.” Sure, it’s “only” a billion a year. Yes, well, as a senator said sometime ago: “A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon you’re talking about real money.”
But that’s the “social” context which makes the news. That’s the blood of the lead. That’s the chum thrown to both left and right sharky social warriors. That’s what we “Know!” We shall now be on this or that side of the “crucifix in a pee pot” “social issue” and “First Amendment rights!” But it’s not a social issue; nor is it about Free Speech. It’s a financing issue. If the man had not gotten a federal grant, he would remain unknown, unless his work is actually popular. Alas for the artist, daring and iconoclastic he might be declared – for few people would buy a $1.99 crucifix and pee in to a jar and combine the two and put it in their living room. If the man tried to sell his work, he would make nothing. Who would buy a bucket of cold pee? Egad. So, no, he seeks a grant – for “art!” ha! And he makes his living and has his 15 minutes.
But still, that’s not “big government” in its entirety with the NEA & NEH (national endowment for the arts, national endowment for the humanities.) There’s the unseen, not discussed, not really thought of part: oh, say, the opera. Yes, the opera, hi falutin till the fat lady sings stuff – it gets money from the NEA and NEH – yes, to keep a “valuable” cultural thing alive. The fact that so much of it was either banned or referred to as “breaking down the culture” seems to make it “traditional.” Well, it’s on life support. Pull the plug; see if it can survive on its own; i.e. let those rich folks who like the stuff pay more, even pay their own way. Liberals, the left, progressives, caring, compassionate, oh pick the word, let me use yours, people want to help the poor black fellow – and go to the opera! Yes, well, me too. How? They tax the man to fund the two N’s so that they can fund the “poor starving artist” put a dime store Jesus in a pee pot. For his “freedom” and his “free speech rights” of course. The poor black fellow wants an extra beer, or a pound of bread – instead he gets a pot of pee. What chicanery perpetrated on the poor black fellow. You take his money to give him what he doesn’t want or need. For your good! Not his.
Meanwhile, he’s taxed, too, to allow rich Liberal folks (oh, redneck “racists” or Christian Fundamentalists don’t go to the opera, do they?) to discuss the warbling and histrionics of the fat ladies and tenor lads, while he’s taxed again to get him self some warm, or cold, pee. And you wonder why he’s poor? You wonder why he’s angry? Hell, he’s paying for opera and pee! And he has no use of the former, and sufficient of the latter. Let him keep his money – cut the funding for the arts. You want to say it’s only some “middle class” person – well, he’s got his priorities, and opera and pee are not among them. Neither for the working poor is this money well spent. Nor for the “working poor.” The numbers of opera goers is a .01% thing – what, 100,000 people? And yet these fancy folks take people’s money to fun their entertainment. That’s big government amok.
You want to make government smaller? Get rid of the two N’s and let pee-heads and fat ladies sell their wares at the price it keeps them going, if anyone will buy their services. And leave the rest of us the hell alone to enjoy a beer instead of giving you the taxes, and then make us argue over whether it should be the Ten Commandments or a Crucifix in Urine that should be funded, or the Opera, and Ballet, and many a museum, which never gets discussed. For the taxpayer must get his culture! Like he or she has none of their own, or none good.
What I mean by “big government” are all the programs that take money from one group of citizens and gives it to another. Get rid of it all – not tomorrow, but starting tomorrow. I don’t have all the answers on how to get it done – what ideas do you have?
Now, the big question: “destroying entitlement programs” – yes, well, no.
First, one cannot be for “hope and change” and keep every single program exactly as it is. There’s no change in that; thus there is no hope for getting out of the inevitable financial collapse of the grand entitlements: Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. There is barely a person alive in this nation who thinks these three things are working right. Yes, plenty of different answers to solve the problem, none liked, the proposer always a cad out to “destroy” the glorious mess: but the fact remains. The Problem exists. The systems are essentially broke, and on the hook for more trillions than they can ever hope to come up with; it ain’t pocket change.
Second, entitlements are essentially unconstitutional: we labor for money, money is therefore a battery or storage unit for labor. If person A is entitled to person B’s money, then person A is entitled to person B’s labor – and that’s indentured servitude, or slavery if you wish, and both are moral wrongs, as the 13th Amendment so clearly states; and our nation has so amply agreed. These two are prohibited. Liberals are very vociferous in their claim to be against slavery and indentured servitude. I join them. Therefore, to require one person to be indebted to another for some portion of his labor is morally wrong and unconstitutional. You cannot be against the two, and be for the two, at the same time, merely because the words “indentured servitude” has now become “entitlement.” Switching the focus from the poor schnook ensnared with the glorious recipient of the spoils does not alter the moral equation.
And what some people have proposed is to shift the current system to a new system, one more in tune with reality, and with liberty. Social Security is paid till you die – after that, your money is taken. If you worked for 45 years, 20-65, and retire at 65, and die at 70, or 75, even 80, you are essentially out the money you paid in; or a goodly portion of it. Soc. Sec. relies on this spread. It always has. But if you kept your own money in a simple pass book savings account, even that is government mandated, you would have more money at 65 than could be paid out in current Soc. Sec. to you if you lived to 105. And you would be able to access it when you need/want it, and not when the bureaucrats, who’ve taken their slice first, for sure, before they dole out the remainder to you, however scheduled that might be.
And when you die, you can leave the excess to your kids or others, to make their lives better, as they see fit. Those hit the hardest are, in fact, poor black fellows. They are the ones with the shortest life expectancy. Those guys, bless their hearts, die five years or more sooner than their white counterparts. There are many reasons this might be; but the fact remains: when they die their lifelong social security payments in their Al Gore “lock box” disappear into someone else’s pocket. In a sense, he’s screwed out of a lifetime of savings; so are his kids and wife/girlfriend. Which seems racist to me, but I’m cranky about this. Help the poor black fellow and his kids and grand kids by letting him keep his money for himself. And think of all the paper work we’d save? And the billions spent on administering this crazy system of begging for your own money. But “big government” keeps the current systems rolling along on the way to the falls.
There are many other examples of such things. They abound. Indeed, it can also be proved rather conclusively that big corporations love big government – not because they go unregulated – but precisely because the government will regulate on behalf of the big corporations. Big loves Big. Face it. It’s an oft told story that the Interstate Commerce Commission was set up to control the big railroads – but the salient fact that the big railroads were the ones who went to Congress and Prez to get what they wanted – regulation – is ignored. Doesn’t fit the meme. In the time of the railroad “robber barons” the numbers of railroads rose high, and their prices dropped low, and the big guys were in a run for their money. They sought to put a stop to all the unregulated railroads – so they asked for and got the ICC – and then, after that was enacted, that’s when they bought up all the small buys regulated out of existence by the new law. Oh, know thy history, believe not the fables of textbooks.
We now have some unknown billions being given to “farmers” to grow too much of one food, and not other foods, or letting the fields lie fallow, or just not growing anything, (to get paid to do nothing is one of the biggest frauds of big government,) – or not being allowed to grow some food on one’s acres, because it’s not in the allocated area for that food; you must grow the approved thing. And what this does is give billions to large food companies, which then are loath to end the gravy train. And it raises the price of foods. In effect, it’s a double or triple, ah, more, whammy on the people. To wit:
First, you tax the hungry man to give to the corporate farmers. He’s out cash to feed his kids. The cost of the taxation, that is, the operation of the IRS is some billions. Then the Agriculture Dept costs some billions more to dole out the hungry man’s money to more um, “deserving” folks. So we spend billions to take money from the regular guy, to give billions to the special folks.
Second, this raises the price of foods – which now the hungry man has less money to buy with, and a higher cost to do so. This cannot conceivably help him. Meanwhile, now he needs food stamps; or a food bank if he’s not “eligible” to get some “free food.” So a bureaucracy is set up for that, at the cost of billions. Now we’re “doing good.” I guess. You’ve taken the man’s money to support one group of citizens, then you take more of the man’s money, or his buddy’s money, to give it back to him in food stamps. For every dollar he gets big government has spent $2 already.
Third, because for some foods (sugar, corn, others, as special examples,) farming them were they are now grown, and in the way they are grown, causes massive environmental damage. Sugar is the worse offender, but because the federal overseers ban sugar imports, we grow it here, at billions in subsidies, to keep the price high. Then billions more are spent for environmental remediation, for the very damage caused by not allowing the importation of sugar.
Fourth, because we don’t import it from where it is environmentally sound to grow it, those countries are forever broke, and thus we give them foreign aid, to help them! Heaven’s forfend we should help them make a buck, so that the help is not required.
Fifth, we import the people to do the hard work of sugar farming from the countries that could sell us sugar – thus we have an immigration problem – no, not the people; they are decent folks, doing what comes naturally: trying to make a buck. No the “problem” is the luring illegals across the borders, and then having to assist the illegals and legals now living here. Those poor folks need help just figuring out the place; never mind food (kept high, see above,) and rent (kept high, easily explained.) So Billions are spent alleviating the problem here or there.
And all this because we have to help the sugar farmers with big government. Of course, big sugar loves big government, or they’d might have to earn only the 5 cents a pound raw that sugar sells for worldwide, and not the 16 cents guaranteed to them by big government for the good of the people. Meanwhile, high fructose corn syrup, aka, sugar, is cheaper, and more plentiful, and thus we have a health problem, supposedly obesity, so that we will now spend billions more on health care for all!
Corn, in turn, is chewing up the top soil of the Great Plains, which now runs off to the Mississippi laden with pesticides, so that we should need now to spend billions to clean up the river, and wonder what to do with the mud now silting up the river, to spend billions more on new and higher levees. Then too, along the way, we’re using a gallon and a quart of petroleum to farm us one gallon of corn-gas – a waste of billions itself – but which also raises the price of corn, because the corn-gas gets priority.
And all of this with the connivance and glee of big corporations and their friends and allies in big government. Still, it’s time to get off the merry-go-round. Ergo, if you wish to cut the power of the big corporations you must cut the power of the big government. There would be no corporate lobbying if there were no corporate rules – there would be naught to lobby for. No favors, no exemptions, no tax breaks, no nothing. No rules to get suspended or waived. No subsidies, or price supports, or export-import loans and favors. No US military to come bail you out of your ill thought out miscegenation with dictators who come to take your business. No bail outs, government loans, or grants. No government buying the stock of a company to help them along. None of this. Make it, or break.
But, importantly, only this one rule: if you screw up, if you cheat, if you damage, if you steal from your employees, if you into malfeasance – then you are liable to everyone and anyone for your negligence. You want “tort reform”? Well, then, remove all subsidies and tax breaks, and limited liabilities and sovereign immunities and public crusades and the rest of the unknowable rules, regulations and bureaucracies from big business that prevent you and I – the harmed party – from suing the company. Let them sink or swim. I dare say many would sink, quick. Oh well, jobs lost. Ah, not to worry, those that swim will hire them all. Or a new rubber raft come alone, like oh, Apple or Microsoft, and pick them up.
I would think that some 75% of the federal government could be eliminated with no detriment, and much advancement, of the national purse, politics and psyche. Yes, it’s a leap. It’s a hope for change, indeed. Keeping everything the same is neither “moving America forward” “restoring our values” “hope and change” or “making a better America.” Stasis is not doing anything – that’s what both parties are for – stasis. For it means big government, from which they gain their millions – and not liberty for the people to pursue their own happiness without giving ½ their income away to help other, better off people.
As for a woman’s right to “choose” abortion – my conservative side says: Killing a baby. No doubt about it. It’s a viable human until you rip it out of the womb – don’t blame “not viable” after you’ve removed it from its cocoon. On the other hand, I’m a gay guy, and the abortion issue is so far from my experience that I can’t really answer to what any individual woman should wish, or not have, or be denied from. It’s a heterosexual problem – and I just can’t fathom those people. I would leave it up to the woman, and her God and her doctors and clergy, family and whatever other heterosexuals she wishes to consult. It should be neither state supported or paid for, nor illegal. It should be discouraged, but not prohibited. Rare but not impossible. Frankly, it comes down to heteros teaching their hetero progeny to keep it in their pants, and stop worrying about gay marriage.
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