Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Put Government in Reverse

I’m conservative, not Republican. Millions of Americans out there are, like me, fed up with the Democrat/Republican tandem which has been bankrupting up our country. That’s going to become very apparent when votes are counted in November. People won’t vote for someone because of party affiliation. They’ll vote for candidates who want to rein in government spending and limit government itself only to what our Constitution designed.

The newly-emerging Tea Party is not an organized political party as Democrats and Republicans are, and may never become so. But that’s all right. We didn’t have political parties at all until the early 1800s and we did just fine. The original Tea Party in colonial Massachusetts wasn’t organized either, but they knew what they didn’t want - high taxes and big government controlling their lives from far away. They knew what they did want too - to be left alone to take care of themselves. Political parties didn’t emerge until long after the Revolution, and I can’t see they’ve helped much. Citizens who consider themselves members of the Tea Party back candidates based on how they see the role of government, not party affiliation or how much pork the candidate will bring home to the district. In early America, people took care of each other because they chose to, not because government forced them to. Here in New England, citizens went to town meetings and elected local leaders called “selectmen.” We still have them, but their power and authority are diluted by county, state, and national governments which are growing at an ever-accelerating rate and bankrupting our country with entitlements. The federal government now decides which people deserve assistance and which people will be forced to pay for it. Selectmen still exist in New England, but they can only do what state government lets them do.

The official title for them is: “Selectman, Assessor, and Overseer of the Poor.” They’re municipal executives, tax assessors and welfare officials rolled together. They take an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States which is supposed to strictly what state and federal governments can and cannot do. It doesn’t anymore, of course, and that’s our biggest problem. They operate in small-town America where everybody knows each other. They know who needs help, who works hard, who is a slacker, who drinks too much, and so forth. They know who is truly needy, who is a parasite, who is dependable, and who isn’t. They don’t want to be forced to give money to anyone who comes to town thinking everyone else there owes them a living. Neither do they want to be forced to pay for anyone who comes into their state or sneaks into their country from Mexico or anywhere else and expects to be supported.Hat tip: Anissa Cuthbert

Selectmen cannot do anything unless authorized to do so directly by citizens who would be paying for it. The road commissioner couldn’t build a road or fix one unless voters approved the expenditure. People can watch the progress as they drive by and if anyone were seen leaning on a shovel too long, selectmen would hear about it at the Post Office or in the store. That’s accountability.

Here in New England, towns built, maintained, and ran elementary schools and didn’t need state or federal government to regulate them. Secondary and post-secondary schools were private and autonomous, and they were much more effective and efficient compared to today’s pubic high schools and colleges.

Government is a necessary evil and almost always wasteful. Local government keeps inefficiency to a minimum with close accountability between citizens and their elected officials. People are expected to take care of themselves. When misfortune or poor decisions make that difficult, they can rely on family or church to help out until they get back on their feet. Beyond the local overseers of the poor and county homes for the elderly and infirm with no family, nothing else in the realm of taking care of people should be the responsibility of government. That was not the intent of the Constitution.Where Lovell holds town meetings

Beginning with the New Deal, the Great Society, and now the the Obama Administration, the federal government has pretended it can provide everything for everybody womb to tomb. It cannot, of course, and anyone with a basic knowledge of math knows it. Nonetheless, states and the federal government are going bankrupt trying. Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid alone have unfunded liabilities exceeding $100 trillion. Any one of these should have been seen as a last straw. The camel’s back is already broken, yet Congress and the President heaped Obamacare onto the prostrate animal. Unless it’s all cut back systematically and drastically, the whole system is going to collapse - and soon.

People who have been collecting unemployment checks for 79 weeks, for example, are about to be cut off. Is the federal government obligated to write more checks? How many of those people would have accepted lower-paying jobs if their benefits were cut off after 26 weeks or 52 weeks? Is collecting unemployment a disincentive to work? It certainly has been for some of my relatives and acquaintances over the years.

If government really wants to create jobs and improve people’s lives, they have to get the hell out of the way, stop trying to “fix” things, and let people do it on their own. When I hear candidates make speeches like this, I’m going to vote for them whether they’re Democrat (not likely), Republican (maybe), or Independent (we’ll see).ADDENDUM: I Just went down to the Lovell Town Office to take pictures for this post. There, Lovell’s Road Commissioner, Larry Fox, told me an OSHA official drove up while he was working in my neighborhood a couple of weeks ago. Said he was inspecting progress on rebuilding my road - Christian Hill Road - because it was designated a federal stimulus project - that $300,000 had been earmarked for it and given to the state for disbursement. “Did they ever consult you about that?” I asked him.

“Never heard a word from them,” he said, “but after talking to him that day, I called the State of Maine guy in Scarborough who is in charge of roads for this area. He said the money had already been spent.”

“Hmm,” I said.

So, someone in Washington decided that my road ought to be rebuilt without consulting Lovell’s Road Commissioner and designated $300,000 to do it. Then an OSHA guy came out here to see how it was coming along, and $300,000 in federal funds disappeared into Maine’s budget.

I swear I’m not making this up.


Anonymous said...

Look at all the jobs that were "created or saved" by this federal expendidture. Why, it's a drop in the bucket out of the trillion plus they printed from nothing.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes I feel like
Alice in Wonderland, having wandered through the looking glass...your column was thought provoking to say the least.

DAWN said...

The Government's responsibility is NOT to take care of us. It's to protect us.

They have proven they have NOT taken care of us via the economy anyhow and there has to be a payday someday.

November could very well be that day and I'm looking forward to it.

Anonymous said...

I have always supported the "Tea Party" concept, I call myself an Independent.

The enemy is still 'us'.

sami said...

Why have you stopped posting your drivel on AMG?

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

What or where did I read that 45,000 new jobs were created, but 25-30,000 of them were temporary census takers...

Alex said...

Could someone explain to me the conservative "ideal" view of education? I hear a lot about privatizing education, which to me sounds like an awful idea. However, I need more information before I can make a judgment.

Anonymous said...

This has since been corrected - the Federal Stimulus Funds were not spent on that local road, it was Route 5.

Anonymous said...

Mr. McLaughlin,
Are you going to print a retraction on your half-truthed blog post?

"I swear I'm not making this up..."


Tom McLaughlin said...

Okay. I talked to an OSHA official and he confirmed there was confusion about the stimulus project being on Christian Hill Road where I live. It was actually spent on Route 5 which is a state road. Had there been enough money between state funds and the $300,000 in federal money, the repaving project would have terminated at the intersection of Route 5 and Christian Hill Road about a mile down the hill from me.

It was completed a couple of weeks ago on Route 5 in Lovell and in Fryeburg.

An OSHA official did speak to Lovell's road commissioner Larry Fox around that time while Larry had a town crew replacing culverts under Christian Hill Road in front of my house - hence the mix-up.

Anonymous said...

What are all of you complaining about. It's stimulus money, meant to be spent. Down here in CT. they're paving roads that don't need paving.
What, more unemployment checks. What a great country. Don't worry yourselves, we will pay for it all.
Andy in CT

Anonymous said...

Why didn't you print a retraction or correction until AFTER your readers called you on it? Typical anti-government BS here...

Tom McLaughlin said...

I didn't retract anything. What I wrote was exactly as it happened. I wrote a follow-up after I had time to investigate it further.

The OSHA inspector did tell the road commissioner that $300,000 was allocated to Christian Hill Road and, for a while, nobody knew what happened to the money.

I didn't make any mistakes. The federal government did. I just wrote what the road commissioner told me.