Because life is a series of edits

A Funeral I’d Rather Miss

In Politics on September 1, 2008 at 7:48 am

In a comment on my previous post, Ed points out that, “Everything you’ve blogged about the political process has been ambivalent, indifferent, or mildly disgusted.”

I’ll own up to the observations. I’m weary of enduring two years of campaigning to get what we get in the end (and don’t even get me started on the millions and millions of dollars wasted in the process of running for a job that pays $200K). Regardless of who gets in, my overarching concern is that, as the size of government has grown, we are never going to get it under control, let alone cut it back. It’s the toothpaste-out-of-the-tube scenario – once it’s out, it’s out; there’s no putting it back where it belongs. From my perspective, we in America are standing in front of a sink covered in toothpaste.

I’ve yet to hear either candidate talk about cutting spending; taxes, yes, but spending, no. Even then, I wouldn’t mind spending as much if it were accompanied by head-on-the-chopping-block accountability, but that’s not inherent to the size and ethos of our government (and really hasn’t been for decades). We are drowning in debt and bureaucracy of our own making, and no one seems too intent on un-making it; we just add to it with each administration, regardless of which party is in power. At some point, however, it’s going to be time to pay the piper (and that piper’s name is China).

We are fast-approaching nanny-statedom in almost every area of our existence – international relations, national security, domestic affairs, state and local government. Why did we go into Iraq? Why are we putting up video cameras everywhere and wire-tapping anything that moves? Why is the federal government bailing out for-profit banks and businesses? Why is Congress investigating steroids in baseball? Why won’t the city of Maplewood get their inspector out of our house so we can actually live here? Because government (Democrat or Republican – it makes no difference) has become too big and too important for its own good, and we citizens are the ones who have allowed it to become so, administration after administration after administration.

John Adams wrote in 1814:

“Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There was never a democracy that did not commit suicide.”

If we don’t use our democracy to humbly preserve itself in the name of governmental limits, we’ll all be attending the grandest of funerals in the name of the State. Color me “ambivalent, indifferent, and mildly disgusted,” but that’s a funeral I’d rather miss.

  1. Well said.

    The only way to reduce spending is to reduce things to spend it on– namely, programs and agencies of the government. But that would require that politicians (and the people who elect them) agree that fewer agencies and programs are what is good for the nation, states, and municipalities. And, of course, most U.S. citizens are actually convinced of the opposite: that it is the agencies and programs that are our hope.

    Ken Myers discussed this once on a Mars Hill Audio thing… that, through the years and the varying predominant philosophies, the center of hope has shifted. For pre-modern cultures, where mankind acknowledged God and the reality of spiritual truth, then the church was the institution of truth-giving, hope, and stability. When Modernity took root and mankind shifted its trust from belief in God to belief in themselves and man’s possibility to shape a perfect world (through science and technology), then the university became the institution of truth-giving, hope, and stability.

    Now, Postmodernity is taking root more and more (though I seriously doubt it will ever be as dominant as Modernity became), and mankind no longer looks to God or himself for truth, instead believing in the general absence of absolute truths. In this culture, Myers says, the institution of truth-giving, hope, and stability becomes the State– which is to say, the government.

    As long as this is true (as is increasingly the case in the U.S.), taxes will go up, and spending will increase because the government will continue to grow. I agree with you about it– but I don’t think we’re going to see it change.

  2. excellent post craig, and excellent additions, ed.

    the prez only makes $400k, but the bennies are great.

    thanks for the great toothpaste analogy. with all the vote-friendly cutting taxes talk, i haven’t been so concerned with how much of my money the gov’ment is going to take but rather what they’re going to do with it. and therein lies (one of) my biggest peeves with federal government: as its size increases, both the money they take and the inefficiency with which said money is spent increase exponentially.

    perhaps an addition to ed’s point about postmoderism is the shift of responsibility from oneself to another. increasingly, the federal (not the state or local) government is bearing the weight of solving it’s citizens’ problems, not the citizens themselves: banks are not responsible for horrible business practices, homeowners are not responsible for buying houses they couldn’t afford, the sexually active are not responsible for the most logical consequence of sexual activity, residents are not responsible for leaving their homes in the event of a disaster, etc.

    i think it’s only becoming a nanny-state because we actually *need* a nanny, we don’t know how to take care of ourselves: we’re not adults, we’re still children looking to our parents to satisfy ever single need (and we cry & whine when we don’t get it right away).

  3. Thanks for the correction, Tyler. I’m showing my age (it was $200K when I learned it).

    Funny you should mention the adult angle. Almost a year to the day, I posted my recommendation of The Death of the Grown-Up by Diana West – might be some good fuel for your fire. It’s definitely worth a read.

  4. I was sadly prevented from casting my ballot for the one candidate that offered something innovatively classic: Ron Paul. The day of our primary (Feb. 5) I was still in the hospital with a newborn in the NICU. Sadly, I won’t have the chance to vote for him in November. The jury is still out on whether I’ll vote at all… and Sarah Palin hasn’t really gotten me more excited to get out. :( I’m with you, Eeyore.

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