The Good Guys are Losing. Why?

April 28th, 2013

By Dan Miller

Can’t we just wait for heroes to save us? That’s easy but won’t work.

king_obamaA fascinating article titled The Good Guys are Not Coming to Save Us was posted on April 23rd at Free-Man’s Perspective. The first paragraph observes,

A lot of Americans know that the US government is out of control. Anyone who has cared enough to study the US Constitution even a little knows this. Still, very few of these people are taking any significant action, and largely because of one error: They are waiting for “the good guys” to show up and fix things.

The article provides much food for thought. Please read it.  

The indifferent

There are many low (no?) information voters who generally neither pay attention to what’s happening nor care. Indifferent, they won’t until they find a major need to pay attention, immediately, either when emotionally aroused or when things seem to get very bad for them. That’s when a benign Government, now seen as the principal supplier of all that they need, comes in. It furnishes what they claim they need, so they needn’t even bother to become more than temporarily distracted from their customary pursuits.

Just take your Electronic Benefits Transfer card to pay for booze and other pleasures at a nice strip joint. That must be the card’s purpose, a few State legislatures to the contrary notwithstanding. On April 26th the Florida legislature acted to ban such use.

The money on Florida Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards is meant to help needy families cover rent and other basic living expenses.

But in a review of 30 months of EBT card withdrawals, which first aired in 2011, 9 Investigates uncovered almost 700 withdrawals at stores with either “beer” or “liquor” in the name.

There were 200 at stories with “tobacco” or “smoke” in the name.  And 9 Investigates even found $60,000 withdrawn inside the Miccosukee Indian Casino near Miami.

Now, Orlando-area State Sen. Andy Gardiner has introduced a new ban that would prohibit EBT cards from being used in liquor stores, strip clubs, dog racing tracks, mega casinos, strip mall casinos and other gaming establishments.

It is said that fish rot from the head down. Why, since our CongressCritters get many lucrative benefits, including (but “not by way of limitation”) insider corporate information obtained by virtue of their employment — financially useful to them and their accomplices friends — should the poor little folk not enjoy their EBT cards as they please? It’s just peanuts. Or something.

Does anyone read or listen these days to poetry such as that of Robert Burns?

Those who care

There appear to be several reasons why those of us who want “our” (whose?) Government to revert to constitutional basics look for heroes to take care of the our problems for us. Just as most of us take our broken cars to mechanics rather than try to fix them ourselves — cars (like “our” Government) are far more computerized and otherwise more complex and difficult to understand than they once were — we try to do the same with our Government. That does not always work very well with our broken cars, but at least we try to select mechanics thought to know what they are about and who try not to impair whatever reputations for competence they may have. I get the sense that politicians are often less competent at their jobs and less concerned about their reputations than are auto mechanics. I also get the sense that many voters are less picky in selecting their politicians than in selecting their auto mechanics, and I wonder why. Beyond that they consider their cars more important, perhaps it’s because it soon becomes evident whether the efforts of an auto mechanic worked or didn’t. The effectiveness of politicians in doing their jobs is usually less readily and less quickly apparent; there are no guarantees.  Mechanics also tend to be more approachable than most politicians (except when seeking votes or financial support), often need the work and to survive in their chosen fields of endeavor need to do a fairly good job.

Functioning at the State level

We should have more impact at the State and local levels than at the Federal level. However, as the linked article at Free Man’s Perspective points out, State and local governments have been undergoing a species of chemical financial castration for many years. It has been and continues to be done via Federal subsidies granted as bribes for accepting Federal control in areas such as education. That is probably the most important area for the Federal Government to gain as much control as possible, because education guides future voters to avoid or to perpetuate our errors of the past.

Such castration is also accomplished via other feel good legislation, also often accompanied by bribes. It frequently has comforting titles beyond which few bother to read. Frequently, those who do read legislation before enactment include those who work in the Federal agencies to be authorized to implement it and often include others who have “special” interests. After enactment, bureaucrats gain vast powers to implement legislation that they helped to craft to accomplish what they want, due to massive grants of authority to those agencies. Often legislation has such permissive language as “and other implementing actions as determined by the Administrator.”

A year ago, even Congressman West supported a small monster with the pleasing title The Safe Teen and Novice Driver Uniform Protection Act, a.k.a the STANDUP act. How could any sane person not “stand up” for safe driving? However, buried in the (not very long) bill was the following language at the end of a recitation of the bill’s purposes:

Any other requirement adopted by the Secretary of Transportation, including learner’s permit holding period at least 6 months; intermediate stage at least 6 months; at least 30 hours behind-the-wheel, supervised driving by licensed driver 21 years of age or older; automatic delay of full licensure if permit holder commits an offense, such as DWI, misrepresentation of true age, reckless driving, unbelted driving, speeding, or other violations as determined by the Secretary. (Emphasis added.)

Significant Federal funding was to be provided to urge passage of the bill and to encourage States to implement it. As I argued in my linked article,

Federal funding is and long has been a powerful inducement for the states to do or to refrain from doing things. Often it is so appealing that it cannot be resisted. Worse, it is an addictive inducement because once states become accustomed to receiving federal funds they tend to become dependent upon and reluctant to forgo them — even when the rules that need to be followed to continue to receive such funding cease to be compatible with their needs.  The process often occurs slowly but inexorably and as it happens the sovereignty of the states is diminished. The ability of the Secretary of the Treasury to promulgate new requirements — quite common in such legislation — exacerbates this problem. We have seen that progression in many fields. Education is one of them, health care is another.

Bugblatter beastThat bill eventually died. However, it was neither the first nor will it be the last effort of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (a.k.a. “Our” Government) to increase the subservience of the States. ObamaCare is the most notorious recent example. Passed with little understanding by the CongressCritters who voted for it of what it said, what it intended and how it might be implemented, it served as a basis for the creation of many thousands of pages of implementing regulations by multiple Federal agencies; more are still being written and the whole mess has become a deservedly unpopular disaster.

The present “Gang of Eight” “Immigration Reform” legislation (“Immigration needs reform; therefore reform legislation must be good, per se“) appears to resemble ObamaCare in many respects, including grants of what would once have been seen as unparalleled discretion to Federal bureaucrats. Yet there has been a push on to pass it “right now,” principally (I think) to garner “Hispanic” votes for the next and future elections. Much misinformation and disinformation have been pushed even by such Republican luminaries as Senator Marco Rubio. Power Line pointed out some rather serious “misstatements” here.

During his appearance on Levin’s program on April 17, Rubio referred four times to the creation of a commission led by border governors. This statement is typical of how he described the commission and its role:

If, in five years, the plan has not reached 100 percent awareness and 90 percent apprehension, the Department of Homeland Security … will lose control of the issue and it will be turned over to the border governors to finish the job … which is not a Washington commission, made up of congressmen or bureaucrats. It’s largely led by the border state governors, who have a vested local interest in ensuring that that border is secure … and there’s money set aside in the bill for them to do it.

But when Byron York read Rubio’s bill, he found that if the 100 percent and 90 percent goals are not met, the job of the commission is almost entirely advisory, i.e., to make “recommendations to the President, the Secretary, and Congress” on how to meet them. The bill provides that the commission shall write a report “setting forth specific recommendations,” send it to the Government Accounting Office, and then go out of business in 30 days.

Additional claims by Senator Rubio et al contradict or are at least unsupported by the legislation.

With increasingly vague legislation, and broad grants of Congressional authority to agencies to legislate promulgate nearly whatever regulations they may deem fit, our courts can’t and don’t do much to prevent administrative abuse. They generally look only at whether any given administrative action falls within broad parameters of discretion — even then they grant substantial deference to the alleged expertise of the various agencies.

The content of the Gang of 8 Immigration Reform legislation continues to be challenged, but what difference does it make? Piffle! That’s just technical language. We need reform right now! We Can’t Wait! Senator Rubio is (was?) thought to be one of the good guys.

There are other prongs of the problem and one of them is mission creep. As observed in an article titled Government as Entropy,

The USDA was founded on a relatively simple set of principles: promote American agriculture. That was it; that was pretty much its whole raison d’être. In one hundred and fifty years it apparently learned a few new tricks, the least of which is teaching people how to live off the public dole. The USDA now boasts an Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, an Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, and an Economic Research Service, to name a few of its bureaucratic functions; it manages offices of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, Tribal Relations, Communications, Nutrition Policy and Promotion, the Executive Secretariat, and many others; it hath pronounced on the “Harmonized Tariff Schedule” and “International Phyosanitary Standards” and lots of other fascinating topics.

How much of this is “useful information?” about agriculture? How much of it is regulatory folderol?

The author cites several other, equally horrendous, examples of mission creep and then observes,

Why belabor the point? These multi-tiered government mammoths aren’t going anywhere. But it is still indicative of a painful reality: creating a government agency is like ringing a dinner bell. People are going to come from all over to try and get a piece of the action; and as this happens, the agencies will grow, the offices will become more numerous, and the positions and occupations will become more uncountable and unaccountable.

While helpful, becoming active in State and local politics is not a complete antidote for what’s going on with “our” Government. It can help, but the main venues for important legislative efforts that affect us all — often adversely — are the Congress (legislation), the White House (Executive Orders), the multiple Federal agencies and the courts which interpret it all (eventually, if asked to do so by someone with “standing“).

Our Constitution provides for the best type of Government yet devised

Too many — generally those fettered by them — are unhappy with the Constitution’s checks and balances and other means of limiting governmental action. They have for years been industrious in minimizing them. There has been little effective opposition. It strikes me that many if not most who seek political office seek power and eventually want more. Many devote their entire careers to government “service” and become wealthy in the process.

Whenever there is a popular crisis, the “We Can’t Wait!” choir sings and many join their emotional chorus. By the time that a crisis du jour has passed, other matters have become old stuff and few care about them.  Anything that diverts attention is useful, but a monumental crisis du jour is not always necessary if news has been filtered through the “legitimate media” (tip of the hat to Vice President Biden for the phrase) for long enough. As former Secretary Clinton remarked on January 23, 2013 about whatever may have happened in Benghazi and why,

“With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. If it was because of a protest or if it was because guys out for a walk decided to go kill some Americans. What difference at this point does it make?”

The Newtown, Connecticut shootings of December 14, 2012 were still much in the news and provided the rallying point for feel good gun control legislation that would not have been effective in preventing the Newtown or most other massacres. Perhaps recognizing that, President Obama said on February 4, “if there’s just one life we can save, we’ve got an obligation to try.” Although not cited by Secretary Clinton, Newtown too was a reason (marginally better than the one she offered) for “What difference at this point does” Benghazi make? We the Schmucks may never know.

We seem to have reached the point at which few think anything makes much of a difference. Perhaps they are right.

Notice US dies

Following the November election debacle, I wrote several articles bemoaning what had gone wrong and suggesting steps that might yield better results in 2014 and 2016. I have not noticed anything significant happening, beyond nods of approval from some other conservative bloggers. While personally gratifying, rather more is needed from many others. Where is (are) the Vox Populi?

Perhaps as long as the Government of Free Stuff For the People, From the People and by grace of  God “our” generous Government continues to provide for our needs and wants in ever increasing varieties and quantities, nothing significant will be done. Even then, it may well be too late because a cancer has been metastasizing for decades.

Perhaps I am overly sensitive to a cancer metaphor. In early 1998, I noticed a small lump inside my neck. It caused no discomfort or other symptoms and we were then in Aruba, where medical care is inadequate. A physician there prescribed an antibiotic and, when it didn’t work, shrugged his shoulders and had nothing further to offer. Shortly thereafter we were on our sailboat back in Bonaire.  A retired surgeon from Missouri (a fellow scuba diver) strongly suggested that I have the lump checked out, promptly, by an ear nose and throat specialist. My wife and I flew the next day to Caracas (which then had the best nearby medical facilities) for that purpose, and an excellent ENT physician examined me. He suggested that I fly, immediately, to the States for further diagnosis and treatment. Jeanie and I did and were there for about six months. A malignant mass was surgically removed, along with lots of lymph nodes, musculature and other yucky affected stuff. Then I had radiation therapy for five weeks. At the end, the radiation oncologist gave me a twenty-three percent change of five year survival. My surgeon gave me an eighty percent chance. That was fifteen years ago; there has been no recurrence and I expect none.

Had I delayed getting competent medical treatment on the theory that since there were no apparent symptoms everything was probably peachy, I am likely by now to have died painfully and to have been dead for many years. Prompt action and competent physicians saved me. There are already many symptoms of our national cancer — obvious to anyone who pays attention and cares — and I hope it is not yet too late for our nation to recover, survive and resume operation as she was designed to do, but am losing hope that she will.

On April 26th, I wrote Freedom can be Taken. When Inherited or otherwise Given, does it Last?  The article was depressing to write and probably to read as well. I of course hope that our freedoms will survive (revive?) and gain momentum in a much better direction. To that end, I shall continue to do the only things I can (pretty much limited to writing articles for my blog) for as long as I can in hopes that my minuscule efforts may help her to do so. Still, her chances seem less than even twenty-three percent at this point.

This is not an adequate solution:


Still, things could be worse. Maybe we should just wait for the worst to happen.

(This article was also posted at Dan Miller’s Blog.)

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