11 January, 2006

Big Brother vs. Good Neighbor The government-or rather governments-spend over 50% of US GDP. Spending has risen more during the present administration than in nearly any other period in history. The blame for this streaches from the White House all the way down Constitution Avenue to the Capitol Building. Excessive spending is nothing new to our government nor to any other. Of the two competitive parties we are stuck with in the US, one believes that the problem is that we aren't spending enough. The other party claims to be the champion of smaller government, lower taxes, and greater personal freedom; the party that, in the mist of a decade-long, ever-widening majority in both houses, has produced—well—much bigger government. The President’s and others' periodic cries for reform fall on the deaf ears of partisans who are too worried about offending “key constituencies” and loosing their seats to make any changes in the pace of the ever expanding government. Ultimately the argument over how much the government should spend (or, on the other side of the coin, how much they should take in taxes) comes down to two basic theories of government: government as Big Brother and government as Good Neighbor. Those who want to have government as Big Brother, holding everyone’s hand from the cradle to the grave, are those advocating unlimited tax and spend power. Through rose colored glasses they view the arrangement as though Big Brother will be there with a strong hand to catch them if they fall. The reality of the situation is that Big Brother is more likely to tighten his grip and, drunk on power, replace his warm hand with the cold iron of chains. The more aspects of your life that the government controls, the more monopolies that the government holds—retirement, education, firearms, healthcare, production, the media, the church, money—the tighter and more inescapable the grip gets, the heavier and heavier the chains become. Big Brother doesn’t come for free, the more he “helps” you the more he charges. In 2004 for the first time the costs Medicare exceeded the amount of payroll tax revenue which was taken into the Social Security and Medicare Trust Fund. This “Trust Fund” is nothing but a big pile of worthless IOU’s which amount to one huge horribly unfunny joke played on the American people by their elected representatives in Congress. This money was “reappropriated” for pork projects by legislators on both sides of the aisle, many of whom have been in Washington for decades, to secure votes back home and gain contributions for the next campaign. This is done in many ways; corporate tax breaks, paying farmers (or corporate farms) not to grow crops, social service handouts, bridges to nowhere, and of course various public buildings and highways named for their benefactor. Voters think they’re getting something for nothing. Their getting something alright but it certanly doesn't come free. The other alternative theory of government is that of“Good Neighbor.” Unlike ever-present Big Brother, Good Neighbor smiles and waves when he sees you but he stays on his side of the fence and you stay on yours. If good neighbor sees a burglar in the yard or smoke coming from the window he’s quick to lend a hand but otherwise he minds his own business and leaves you free to do as you please. The absinth of power can never be over drank by Good Neighbor because the liquor is not available to him. It was Good Neighbor that was envisioned by the Founding Fathers and it is the idea of Good Neighbor which draws millions from around the globe to seek, and find, a better life far from their own “Big Brother” back home. Most likely the new Congress will produce the same thing that the one hundred and eight congresses before them—larger government, higher taxes, and less freedom. Just what the exact solution to this problem is I do not know (congressional term limits would be a great start) but we all need to look for it now before the crisis becomes too bad. I do know that it is up to us, future taxpayers and voters, just how far down the Road to Serfdom we go.

13 November, 2005

People often say there are two things which you aren't supposed to talk about, politics and religion. I think this is one of the most stupid things I have ever heard. I can't think of two more important topics; one relates to how we live our lives on earth and the other what will happen to us when we die. Both are a hell of a lot more important and pressing than last night's game . Maybe if we talked a little more about these subjects we would have a few less problems to complain about.