Thursday, June 2, 2011

Happy, Happy, Happy

My two year old grandson, Sully, belts out an exuberant “happy, happy, happy” when he thinks things are going well. He usually has a reason for his joyous enthusiasm. Many of our citizens, however, seem to be walking around in a cloud of happy when things are going to the dogs. They may grumble about higher food costs or the high price of fuel, but many of them are oblivious about what the government’s role is in the increased cost of living. They seem to view government as a benevolent, kind old uncle who wants to care for his charges. They fail to understand that government is faceless and heartless. As Thomas Jefferson wrote “government big enough to supply every need is big enough to take it away.”

Church attendance is beginning to slip according to data from the Barna Group. In addition people feel less compelled to attend a church. Furthermore, various studies have indicated that ethical behavior and integrity are not valued as highly as they were in the past. In my view, these phenomena blend together to suggest that many of our people have more faith in an impersonal government than they do in individuals (the integrity issue) or the formal church. It appears that for many of our citizens have substituted government power and control for civil communities and reliance on a Higher Power.  As a believer, I have my preference, but even if I were the most adamant non-believer in the history of humanity, I would not place my faith and trust in government. Those who do must suffer from a version of the Stockholm syndrome wherein a hostage begins to identify with and share the values of the kidnappers.

Little Sully’s “happy” refrain is a realistic reflection of his view of life at that particular moment. People who look to government to provide and insure their happiness are trapped in a warp of self-delusion. Even the Wizard of Oz was a more identifiable and locatable element than is “the government.” The government consists of thousands of bureaus, agencies, departments and offices “manned” by millions of disgruntled public employee union members. When a citizen seeks to get a definitive answer about a specific perplexing problem, she or he can find herself embedded in a never ending game of “push the paper.” At some level I can understand why a lazy person might prefer government largesse and all its frustrating inefficiency to having to fend for oneself. That must be a conscious choice, however…a trade-off of some sort. My concern is with the people who are blissfully unaware of the gross unreliability and unresponsiveness of many government offices.

When Sully says “happy, happy, happy,” he has a reason. Things are looking good for the little guy. When so many of our citizens are blissfully contented with a growing tyrannical government, one has to seriously question their powers of observation or their mental acuity. So many, too many of our fellow citizens trip through life expecting more from government…more protection, more security or more care. They do not recognize the reality that your own .38 arrives faster than the police. They don’t understand that if there is a hazardous material spill in your front lawn, the government keeps the fine…not you. Ask any veteran how the government healthcare stacks up against what is currently available in the private sector. Just because something is provided by government, doesn’t make it better or even satisfactory….often it is much worse than we can do for ourselves. So, I’m truly puzzled by those who would welcome government control over so many aspects of our lives. Do they lack the confidence or the will to make sound decisions on their own? Perhaps they have not yet seen through the misty myth of government competence. They may view government as a neutral and unbiased provider whereas the private sector representatives, in their view, are deceitful salespeople.

They fail to detect that big government represents the biggest lie of all. Our individual liberty is more valuable than any coercive government oversight. Our unaware fellow citizens may be happy in chains and straitjackets, but they will miss the unmatched joy of freedom. True, they will not be burdened by personal responsibility and difficult decisions. They will however have to obey the government in all things… large and insignificant. My little grandson, Sully, has the typical two-year old assertive nature. He wants to call his own shots. When he thinks he is controlling his own destiny, he is “happy, happy, happy.” Unfortunately, Sully is much wiser than many of our citizens. He knows when his liberty has been restricted.

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