Big Government Needs a Haircut

Government is absolutely necessary for many things...and believes itself to be necessary for a great many more. The tricky business for...

Government is absolutely necessary for many things...and believes itself to be necessary for a great many more. The tricky business for all of us free people, is deciding where exactly we need that bossy, expensive and remarkably wasteful authority to step in, and where we need it to get out of our business entirely. There is a point in every nation's history...several points actually...where the line between democracy and tyranny must be drawn. And although Canada's vision has gotten a little blurred over the years, there still is a line. It's that thing that keeps pushing you a little more and then a little more to the left each time a decision must be made. 

Let's be honest here. Government is like any other industry. It seeks to protect and grow itself. There are individuals in government who are relatively idealistic, maybe even fantastic human beings, but the system as a whole is focused on self preservation. The only way to get anything done is by gaining absolute power and you know what they say about absolute power. There is no virtue in an operating system and no safety in a popular vote. And this is why modern democracy is inherently distrustful of government. We ought to be. We have created a nation based on a political philosophy that assumes corruption and abuse of power unless there is the continual participation of free citizens. The constitutional human-rights-driven system honed so carefully by England and the United States was meant to protect us ordinary folk FROM government. I'm not saying we should all build a bunker and refuse to pay taxes. Although, doesn't that sound like fun? Government was meant to serve the nation and it is up to us to make sure it functions as intended and doesn't become a law unto itself. 

Oh, but wait. Oops. We kind of let that tiger out of the cage already. 

Rather than creating greater opportunity, our western governments have grown increasingly interested in manipulating identical outcomes - trying to create an ideal life for all citizens rather than leaving us free to create our own. Standards are set in education, healthcare, energy, industry, and everywhere else to level the playing field, rub out differences and dampen competition, not because these regulations make everything better - in fact they often punish the successful and stifle innovation and growth - but simply because the regulation of all things requires more and more government, which means they need more authority and more taxes. The creation of an ideal life for all can only be accomplished by controlling all.

Maybe the loss of money and personal freedom would be worth it in the end...if we actually got what we paid for. But the problem with relying on government for everything is that they aren't really good at...well, anything. You know it's the truth because, like every citizen of a swollen, overreaching system, you've stood in line or waited on hold for hours, listening to bad instrumental covers of "Call me Maybe", when all you're trying to do is get a permit to build a freaking garden shed. Every government office is slow and inefficient. They have long lines, tall piles, extra expenses, unreasonable delays, and if there's any possibility of messing up, they will do it royally. And that's not even for the important stuff. Are all these government employees idiots? Of course not. They just work for a mammoth organization that has taken upon itself the impossible task of managing every aspect of our lives. It simply cannot be attempted without bogging us all down in red tape and costing us an enormous amount of money. 

The only instance when government seems to operate in a timely manner is when they're attacking citizens for free speech or taking the children away because they walked two blocks without being tethered to an adult. We are slaves to overreach or slaves to bureaucracy. Either way, our forefathers are rolling in their graves. 

But hey, in our own defense, I think most of the time we turn to the government for a solution, we intend it to come in the form of assistance we can access if needed, or some kind of temporary intervention. But in allowing the government to take on more of our problems and responsibilities, we give it license to push us out of the decision-making altogether. For example, it used to be the parent's responsibility to educate their children and prepare them for the workforce. Public education was supposed to assist parents with that vital task, not remove it from them. Now we have situations all over the western world where government is fighting parents on where their kids can go to school and even how many sick days they can take before mom is hauled downtown. Teachers are hovered over by theocratic busy-bodies who dictate from on high even though they aren't the ones in the classroom. What should be a positive entitlement negotiated between the citizens and the local school, is now just another power struggle between the people and the system that has stopped working for them.

Living in a democracy means that we freely give away some of our own power and money to the government to do those things we cannot do ourselves. Things like national security and global trade. A democracy also means that we elect a government to negotiate with. Justin Trudeau was chosen by popular vote to be the one to listen to us and respond to our concerns. But these days politicians seem to assume that the initial election is all the input they require from the people. That once in power, they no longer need us. 

The problem is that we've forgotten we're supposed to say "when". 

The government exists for our benefit - not the other way around. Perhaps we should consider how much of our power and money we've given away for no good reason and ask for some of it back. And because government is primarily invested in protecting and growing government, our elected officials are not going to edit the system themselves for fear of editing themselves out of a job. 

We are going to have to be the ones to say "enough".

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