I’d like to try something a little different. I’ve tried to research material to address different aspects of the political environment that are starting to become factors in the world in which we find ourselves today. I did one article regarding the healthcare issue, where I probably included too much personal information. I wanted to attempt to put together an article that gets us refocused on the purpose of the site, and that is COMMON GROUND!
The one thing that sticks with me the most about the posters on this site is that you are all passionate in your beliefs. Unlike so many sites in this anonymous world called the internet, we have actually been able to forge friendships, however fragile they may be at times. For those of us who have been fortunate enough to meet in person, from what I’ve heard on all accounts each and every one of these meetings has reinforced opinions that folks here are rock solid! This is quite a remarkable feat no matter how you look at it. Sadly, sometimes I think we lose sight of that simple fact in our discussions. So what I’d like to do with this article is to take my personal observations of our discussions and see if we have more in common than we have differences. I know we all realize that there are some major problems that we face together – where the disagreements come is in the solutions. Here are my simple observations.
The first issue that we have is our differences of opinion on the role of government in our lives. Some feel the federal government should be the dominant factor, others believe the states should be. If you look at it strictly in terms of our Constitution, the sederal role is to be limited and the states are to be dominant. I don’t think that anybody can really argue the opposite honestly. Everybody realizes that government is a necessary evil in our lives, simply because without it we would be living in anarchy and nobody wants that (except anarchists). The real question is how do we get back to a proper balance and still benefit the entire country, not just certain segments.
We’ve all heard the phrase “government which governs least governs best”, and there is a reason that rings true. It places the individual in charge of doing the “right thing”, even though there is little oversight. When I go bowling on league nights, I drive on rural roads, with stop signs and stop lights. I come to a complete stop when I get to a stop sign, and I wait for the light to change even if there is no traffic. Why do I do this? Quite simply because it is the law, it’s part of the rules we live by. I don’t think there is anything unique about me in this respect, I think most people are capable and willing to do the same thing for the same reason. There is a trust, a bond if you will between government and the citizenry to obey the law even when nobody is watching. Somewhere along the line, that trust has been lost in both directions of governance. I suggest the following for your consideration.
Due to the nature of our budget difficulties hitting us at the federal, state and local levels, the elimination of all unfunded mandates should be discontinued, for one simple reason. If legislation is so important that it needs to be passed, it should be fully funded by the level of government passing the legislation. It’s easy to spend other people’s money when there are no consequences. Try having something forced on you in your own personal life by any entity and you’ll take issue with it. This simple step could remove a huge burden from every level of government other than local. That’s the way this system of ours was designed to operate.
The second step of this process would be to eliminate duplication in the various federal agencies involved in so many aspects of our everyday activities. We really don’t have to look too far back in history to find an example of how this interferes with a reasonable and timely response to a problem. I give you as an example the Gulf oil spill. There were numerous stories about how the various federal agencies each had their own specific spans of control. Because of all the layers of government involved, steps that could have been implemented quickly to minimize damage were delayed simply due to layers of bureaucracy. It slowed our response considerably. Why have seven different agencies involved in the decision-making process in this emergency? If your house was on fire, would you want to have to get the okay from seven different people before the fire trucks were dispatched? This is the easiest example to use, and it’s rampant in every layer of government.
Once that duplication has been eliminated, we then can focus on what the federal government should be involved with, and this is where it all gets very tricky. There is an argument to be made that some standards need to be applied across the entire country, and in some instances I agree that it is necessary. For this example I will use the Department of Education. I firmly agree there should be a basic set of educational standards, but none of them should involve diversity training, sex education or self-esteem classes. Those are not issues that should fall into the realm of government at any level, in my not so humble opinion, but rather to the parents. What purpose does it serve the citizenry for a child to feel good about herself when she can’t even read the diploma she is handed? At some point we have to get back to parental responsibility. Many of us were born and raised before the Department of Education was created in 1977. Think of how much has changed in the US during the subsequent three decades. It’s mind-boggling when you take the time to contemplate that. As a small aside, the Energy Department was created at the time to make us energy independent. Anybody honestly think it’s even gotten close to that goal?
These are all things we have discussed here, time and again. When you take the time to stop and ponder just these simple steps, do you understand the amount of money these simple steps would save? State and local governments could implement the same principles, and the savings would be compounded further. A profound attitude change would occur from both the perspective of the taxpayer toward the government, and vice versa. It’s all quite simple when you think about it. Most taxpayers don’t mind paying taxes, and they really don’t mind government. Where the real conflict arises is when the taxpayers don’t think they are getting their money’s worth out of THEIR investment. Government doesn’t invest in infrastructure and schools, taxpayers do.