America must evolve
Big changes are needed to save America. Little tweaks won't be enough
by T. J. Nelson
by T. J. Nelson
he recent shutdown of the U.S. federal government had so little impact on the vast majority of citizens that it would have passed unnoticed had it not been for the sheer petulance of the Federal government.
The Feds blocked off one lane of a highway in South Dakota to try to prevent tourists from seeing Mount Rushmore. They took all the pump handles along the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal in Maryland to prevent hikers and bicyclists from getting water. They set up barricades on public land to stop people from exercising their patriotism. For a while, even some of the National Weather Service websites, which are run practically automatically by computers, were shut down. All in a failed attempt to convince us that the Feds are so essential that they're worth the huge chunk of our salaries we're forced to give them.
We could have expected as much, given the nastiness of the Government's current leaders. But the sheer desperation shown by the Feds highlighted to Americans the fact that much, if not most, of what they do could be done better by the States or private organizations.
What have the Feds done with all those tens of trillions of dollars they have extracted from us at virtual gunpoint? They achieve spectacular military successes, only to get bogged down in nation-building, then declare defeat and pull out, allowing our allies to be destroyed by the enemy. Our astronauts have to pay the Russians to shuttle them to and from the International Space Station. Much of what the Feds tell us from day to day, including basic facts like the unemployment rate and the inflation rate, are lies. So it's fair to ask: do we really need a federal government?
There are a few things that only the Feds can do. These are spelled out in the Constitution. We need them to standardize the weights and measures. They must be our voice with foreign governments in signing treaties and bombing—er, I mean negotiating—with them. They should adjudicate disputes among the States. Any more than this, and they risk becoming a tyranny.
The Constitution regards the Feds as more of an arbitrator and a standards board than a government. Yet they have metastasized into an enormous cancer that consumes and destroys almost half the nation's wealth. They have created an enormous cadre of academics who are partially or wholly subsidized by government and repay their benefactors by creating an ideology that justifies their cozy arrangement. Sociologists even have a name for it: system-justifying ideology.
System-justifying ideology gives people a plausible explanation for why what they already believe must be true. For example, an economist who wants to believe in the welfare state will be attracted to Keynesianism because it seems to provide a justification for it.
Entitlements are by far the government's biggest function today. They consist mainly of taking money from one group of citizens and handing it out to another, more favored group. Needless to say, this causes resentment, not just among those who now find it impossible to create things, but also among the recipients. These beneficiaries resent being turned into cattle, but like everyone else their lives are dictated primarily by economic considerations. If the government offers them money not to work, they dare not work. If it offers them free benefits, they dare not pass them up.
To preserve their self-esteem, the recipients must find a way to justify doing what they know to be wrong. So they are forced to see themselves as victims, and welfare as their just compensation. Thus the current system creates and perpetuates class and racial divisions that feed off the redistributed money. It is another example of how the government undermines the interpersonal bonds that made our society worth preserving. If it was intended to bring people together, it has failed. It can only drive people further apart, as we are seeing today.
This needs to be stopped. All welfare functions should be transferred to the states. The states are the only ones who understand what their voters want. Leaving it up to the states would restore our freedom to choose what kind of society we wish to live in: a socialist welfare state like Massachusetts or Maryland, where everything, including the rain, is taxed, or a relatively free state like Texas (where, admittedly, taxing the rain would not be worth the trouble).
I've lived in all three of these states. The differences are amazing. Take roads. In Massachusetts, the roads all have nice paved berms, with nice flowers and bushes planted all along the side. In Maryland, the highway near my residence was lined with nice cherry trees that turned white every spring. When the blossoms fell off, it was like driving through a snowstorm. Very pretty indeed.
In Texas, a road is basically a flat area with a slab of asphalt slapped on it. No ditch, no berm, and no pretty bushes. When it rains, the road is sometimes covered by two inches of water. The drivers' attitude is “so what?” and they plow through it at 85 miles per hour without even slowing down.
If we were lucky, the State would mow the grass occasionally. Yes, it looks a bit industrial at times, especially around places like Beaumont and Texas City. But to me it was beautiful because it was the sight of a government being frugal with my money. It was the freedom that made it beautiful.
That sense of freedom in Texas is completely alien in Massachusetts, where you feel a sense of being protected and looked after. In Texas, when there's a traffic jam on a multilane highway, the drivers simply drive across the grass and onto an adjacent road, solving the problem on their own initiative. I was absolutely stunned when I first saw this. Massachusetts drivers would never dream of doing such a thing, even if it were possible. They would assume it was against the law. And they would be right.
This is the kind of diversity we need. It's ironic that the ones who preach “diversity” today are the ones working the most furiously to end it. What they really want is not diversity, but the uniformity of central control. But it is diversity of opinion and outlook, not the fake diversity we see in the universities, that will keep America growing and thriving.
Diversity is a term that was borrowed from biology. Biology teaches us that diversity is essential for a species to survive. But in nature, it is genetic and behavioral diversity, not skin coloration, that is most important. If one group eats oak leaves and another eats pine needles, that is diversity. Whichever behavior is better contributes more to evolution. Likewise, if one state discovers a way to produce more wealth, those principles will spread and be adopted by other states. If uniformity is imposed on the states, or upon the ecosystem, diversity is crushed, evolution stops and everyone will suffer.
In countries, just as in ecosystems, the alternative to evolution is extinction. For a country, if change is blocked, the people eventually force a change on their own by rebelling and overthrowing the government that has blocked it. Usually, as in the French Revolution, this just makes things worse. But it is practically a law of nature, and no one should imagine that the USA is immune from it.
Yet despite the millions of words spread by the press, the Feds are not, and can never be, the agents of change. The uncountable numbers of Federal rules and regulations, and the vast, nationwide entitlement programs kill diversity and innovation, bringing change to a standstill.
America must evolve. We must allow change once again by shrinking the Federal government. It would be a tragic mistake to underestimate the craving that Americans, even those who are forced to rely on government handouts, have for freedom. In a world turned upside down, even Pravda has acknowledged this with admiration. This craving for freedom is our greatest strength. But big government is undermining it.
The ideologues on the left claim to want change, but their idea of change is “more stuff for our side!” They make vicious personal attacks on anyone who suggests real change. Some on the right tell us that this will all blow over in a few years, or that it's the inevitable result of irreversible demographic shifts and therefore hopeless. Both sides want to keep the party going as long as possible. But little tweaks will not fix the problem. Giving up will not fix the problem. Big changes are needed to save America, and big changes are coming, one way or the other.