Saturday, December 6, 2008

Mama knows best, or does she?

I heard Mike Huckabee, as he was promoting his new book, explain that the best type of government is government of the self. In theory, there is nothing wrong with the notion, however in reality, it will never work for a large population, especially one as diverse and geographically spread out as the United States.

The Republican Party has made their mantra of “less government” the cornerstone of their movement for the last 30 or so years. The principle notion being that government only gets in the way of its citizens and becomes self serving. True be that, however, there was a more devious reason for some wanting less government and that was to allow their own self interests to flourish unencumbered by pesky oversight and regulations.

It is the purpose of government to meet the needs of the people for whom it is responsible for. Turning that responsibility over to the people creates many microcosms with differing self interests. In a nutshell - Self government only leads to anarchy. One needs only look to Somali to see how less government is working for their citizens.

There are approximately 305 million persons that make up the United States. To promote a platform of less government for managing the needs, wants, and desires for 305 million of its people without offering a solution of how to make us all E pluribus unum is where the Republican Party has lost the support of people like me. The idea that the individual is the best person to determine what is best for themselves is not borne out by the reality of our day-to-day actions.

To put it simply we the people are stupid.

Case in point, the The top 10 Yahoo searches for 2008 were:
  1. Britney Spears
  2. World Wrestling Entertainment
  3. Barack Obama
  4. Miley Cyrus
  5. RuneScape
  6. Jessica Alba
  7. Naruto
  8. Lidsay Lohan
  9. Angelina Jolie
  10. American Idol
Other than Barack Obama, none of other nine have any significance to providing information in any shape or form that could be used to make one a better person or citizen. To govern one’s self is to look at your needs and contrast them to the needs of those around you. If you think I want my needs looked after by someone who finds it necessary to search for news about Britney or WWE you had better think again.

The truth is, and this hurts to say, that just because I don’t search for these silly pop culture things does not mean I behave admirably. I do not. Using myself as an example to show why I should not be entrusted solely with governing myself:

  • I should be saving more and investing more for my retirement. I am not doing everything that I could be doing based on what the experts tell me I should do at my age and lifestyle.
  • According to Wii Fit, I am obese. I beg to differ, but according to the experts, my height and weight is above what is considered healthy.
  • I do not exercise as much as the experts state I should. I am not sedentary, but I do not get the minimum workout needed to keep myself healthy. If I am healthy it will save my employer money on health care and I will be less of a burden on the health care system.
  • I do not floss regularly. I am told by my dentist that this is a necessary step to keep my teeth healthy.
  • I wash my car on my driveway, with soap. The experts tell me that the soap pollutes the rivers and lakes when it rains.
  • I do not do all the necessary maintenance at the appropriate time on my car. The experts tell me that a properly maintained car will last longer and pollutes the environment less
  • I don’t get a yearly flu shot. The experts say that this is not needed for me, but needed to protect those that are vulnerable to the flu; babies and the elderly.
I know that I should do all of these things - consistantly. I know that they are best for me, my family, and my fellow citizens. Why I am not more diligent in doing what I am supposed to do all the time is complicated. It is complicated for everyone else as well. It is not just because I am lazy, or I don’t care, or that I need to be led. It is a complex bag of interconnected and extraneous reasons. Now multiply that by 305 million.

If any of the things I mention as a failure to comply with are not relevant, then I can pretty much do whatever the heck I want to do. I truly can be tasked with self governance. But, if my doing them would benefit my neighbor, maybe I am not the right person to be lord and master over my domain. Maybe these experts do know what is indeed best for me. Maybe I should not just be forced to listen to them but forced to behave in a way that is best for me and my fellow citizens.

When I was a kid my parents told me that they knew what was best for me in that situation. I told my kids the same thing. Stepping back, we were right. Government of the people and for the people can work well. We do not need less government we need better managed government and a government that we believe is acting in our best interest.

“Were from the government and we are here to help” should not be the punch line of a joke.