Too much government, too little government…what is the right answer? I have given this topic an enormous amount of time, thought and debate. There are sooooo many sides to each position with really a mountain of data to support every conceivable angle. But as we all know too well, just because there is data doesn’t mean there is truth.
Interestingly enough, though, as I have waded through the massive amounts of information to try to figure out the best role for government to play as we “Fix America,” I have been trying to discipline myself to ask a simple question throughout the process. The question I have been asking is “what solution makes the most sense providing a high level of freedom, individual choice and accountability?” I framed the question this way with my own biased belief that the original intention of America was to provide the maximum amount of freedom for the people that live in our United States. I know that there are other schools of thoughts around this but I am pretty sure most people will agree that this was the “intention” of the founders of our great country.
But somewhere along the way, we got sidetracked on the whole value of liberty and true freedom. We actually started relying on government involvement more and more in our lives, sometimes without even knowing or acknowledging it. There are consequences to that involvement…some good, others bad. (Just to be clear, I believe an effective, efficient government is absolutely essential to Fixing America. BUT, the keyword is “effective” and today we have anything but an effective government.)
As I distilled the issues down even further I have really decided that almost all government policy, programs and expansion (or reduction) boils down to how you (or any elected official) answers the following question:
“Who is in the best position to make the correct choices for my life and wellbeing and who is willing to be accountable to those decisions?”
Of course the knee jerk response from nearly every person, regardless of political affiliation is “I AM!!!!, keep the government out of my life. That’s what freedom is all about….the ability to be free to choose, do what I want, go where I want to go, etc.” But when we get a little deeper, we don’t always see that conviction all the way through, nor do engage in behavior that supports that gift of freedom.
For example, if we truly want the freedom to do whatever we want, shouldn’t we also be allowed to benefit or suffer from those choices? If you agree with this, why is it then so many people (maybe even you) support “safety-net” programs that help limit the consequences of bad or unfortunate circumstances? Take, for example, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Would be better stewards of our wealth and health, individually, if these programs did not exist? If there was no “back-up plan” from the government, only the generosity of your community, private charity and citizens would we seek excellence more than mediocrity? I would like to believe we, as Americans, would rise to the occasion but the data and our behavior doesn’t always support this. Therefore, if we engage in reckless behavior (poor health through poor lifestyle choices, not saving for retirement, not buying disability insurance, etc.) that directly affects the money or resources FROM THE GOVERNMENT spent to “bail us out” (for example, additional medical care due to obesity, heart disease and/or lack of financial savings and discipline thus SS payments), then can we get upset when the government intervenes to try to cover their butt? (i.e. taxing junk food, forcing you to save through Social Security, etc.)
It all really boils down to one thing. Are you going to be accountable for your own life and choices? Are you going to make the tough decisions to eat right, exercise, stay in school, save money and make all sorts of other “tough” choices to give yourself the best opportunity to thrive? I believe we all can rise up to this inherent responsibility. I believe we can all do better and prove to the government that hey, we can manage this stuff ourselves. In today’s world, my opinion is the government has not shown its ability to effectively and sustainably provide a role in solving these problems. Therefore the only true answer we need to do these things ourselves. Every single one of us, every single day needs to be part of the solution.
But tough times are ahead and I wish I could tell you something different. The numbers don’t work to support a government as large and as expansive as we currently have. People will suffer when they are cut off from the “system” that they have so heavily relied upon and it will be up to each one of us to help out our neighbor in need. This is when America is at its greatest….when we help each other and not assume it is the role of government to help them.
We are the only ones that can fix America and how the government plays a role in our lives. It starts, first, with making sure we don’t give them an excuse to take care of us. Let’s make the tough choices, tweak our behaviors, do better, help each other and truly experience freedom.
I can be better, and by being better, I Can Fix America.
Also, let’s limit the amount of damage these political clowns can do. Encourage term limits for every office. (great transition, huh?)
Week # 4: January 23rd- January 29th