An alternative to popular faith

Ever since Ronald Reagan said, “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem,” (then proceeded to run the largest federal deficits in history), the chic thing has been to criticize big government as an affront to our self reliant, can-do, cowboy heritage. The media pundits, both major political parties and the Tea Party repeatedly call for less government.

On March 24, 2009, Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana said, “There has never been a challenge that the American people, with as little interference as possible by the federal government, cannot handle.” Oh, really? Today, May 31, 2010, the Chicago Tribune published a wonderful article written by Leonard Pitts, all government haters should read. I’ll quote a few passages:

“. . . Bobby Jindal . . . is singing a new song . . . Now, he’s BEGGING for federal ‘interference.’ He wants federal money, federal supplies, wants the feds to help create a barrier island to protect Louisiana wetlands from oil.
“One hears pointed questions about President Barack Obama’s engagement or lack thereof in the unfolding crisis. One hears accusations that the government was lax in its oversight duties and too cozy with the oil industry it was supposed to be regulating. One hears nothing about deregulation, about leaving the free market alone to do its magic […] the sudden silence of the apostles of small government and free markets is telling.

“Yes, government is not perfect […] Any bureaucracy serving 309 million people . . . is likely to have flaws. […] But . . . people like Jindal rail against the very concept of government itself, selling the delusional notion that taxation and regulation represent the evisceration of some essential American principle. They wax eloquent about what great things the free market and the free American could do if government would just get off their backs.

“One thinks of one’s meat oozing with salmonella, one’s paint filled with lead, one’s car getting 12 miles to the gallon, one’s self being breezily denied a job for reasons of race, creed, gender or sexual orientation and yes, one’s ocean covered from horizon to horizon with a sheen of oil. And one shudders.

“[…]there are no small government disciples in massive oil spills. No, . . . Bobby Jindal turned righteously to that big, sometimes bloated, often intrusive federal government and asked for help. He said, Send money, send resources. You will notice he never once said, send less.”

Yes, it is so terribly chic, so wonderfully clever to criticize big government, as though each of us were ready to shoulder the responsibilities of the army, Social Security, Medicare, roads, bridges, education, policing and the thousands of other tasks we happily delegate to the bureaucracy.

I have spoken about this on many occasions, for instance YOUR CHILDREN WON’T PAY FOR DEFICITS and EUROPEAN WELFARE STATE and TEA PARTY CONFUSION, but Leonard Pitts said it better.

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

No nation can tax itself into prosperity