The Myth of the “Good” Government


Well, to begin with, we’ve grown complacent and comfortable with the idea of federal government involvement in every facet of our lives. How often in the past two years have you heard the phrase “it will take a while for Obama to turn the economy around?” A while back I heard Professor Larry Sabato state that very thing as he talked about tamping down expectations for the Obama administration. Did you catch the problem with that phrase; regardless of whether you’re a conservative, liberal or “moderate?”

Since when is it the responsibility of Obama or for that matter any politician to “turn the economy around?” Do you see how far we’ve fallen? Even conservatives use the same terminology as the liberals and all our terminology points in the wrong direction…Washington DC. Washington is, has been, and always will be the problem and until that changes, we’ll just stay frogs in the kettle.

So, step one for everyone reading this blog…stop thinking of the federal government as “benevolent” or even “innocuous” no matter whom is in charge. Let me repeat; NO MATTER WHOM IS IN CHARGE.

A new paradigm is needed by all of us who call ourselves free. The federal government is neither benevolent nor innocuous, it is predatory and harmful. Because its gravitational trajectory is always towards expansion, interference, and control, it is a direct assault and affront to all things free. Sadly, since the 1930′s, the government has encroached so much and so often that we’re hardly even aware of it anymore and in fact, we have become the generation of big government. Instead of a healthy fear of Washington DC and a Constitutional corralling of its powers, we’ve grown to fear it like an abused spouse fears the attacker.

  • Business owners – ever fear a tax audit, or an EEOC or OSHA audit?
  • Home owners – Ever get a letter from the IRS, or want to add an addition to your home or build a pool near a wetland, feel uncomfortable telling the federal government how many guns you own?
  • Employees – Are you afraid of talking about your religion at work, passed over for a promotion because of your race or gender?
  • Dads and moms – Worried about the Department of Education interfering with your desire to home school, or odd looks from your pediatrician about guns in your home?

Now, before I’m accused of being an anarchist, let me put your minds at ease, I’m not. If fact, I see a real need for government in our lives. Simply hoping for the good will of our fellow man is both naive and dangerous. That said, I’m much more inclined to support our Founders concept of government rather than what we have right now. So, if I could wave my magic wand and change everything, I’d viciously slash the size of the federal government, perhaps by 75% and transfer the power and responsibilities to a very robust state government. I would only allow the federal government the power to operate within the enumerated powers given to it by the United States Constitution and take everything else away. This is in keeping with James Madison, the Father of our Constitution, in the Federalist Papers #45:

“The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected.”

Thus, in my world, the federal government has the following responsibilities:

  • Develop and manage treaties.
  • Provide for the security of the states.
  • Create postal roads.
  • Adjudicate cases concerning federal powers and state to state controversies.
  • Put down armed insurrections.
  • Make commerce regular
  • Create a national currency.
  • That’s about it.

Everything else falls under Madison’s numerous and indefinite. Now, understandably, this doesn’t sound too appealing to anyone running for national office, but isn’t that the point. Didn’t the Founders want the source of power over people to be close to them, in the towns, communities, cities and states, not halfway across the country? Didn’t the Founders understand that the one-size fits all approach to national legislation would just eventually lead to factions and half of the counrty hating the other half in power? In their common sense approach to governance, the Founders realized that having power reside close to you, perhaps in your local community, would give you the ability to influence in ways you cannot today. Ever try to speak to your Representative or Senator? Never mind the President or Supreme Court Justice, not gonna happen. You’re just an “underling” to them; a tool to remain in power.

Little secret, when you get a letter signed by your Member of Congress, guess what, he/she didn’t write it, I did as a Legislative Assistant. In fact, he/she probably never even saw your letter unless you were a big contributor to their campaign or were a big player in their congressional district or state. Another little secret, most have no idea how to vote when legislation comes to the floor and end up asking their staff how to vote. And forget about voting in their committee, most of the time they give their proxy to the Chairman or the Ranking Member which means they’re not even there to vote. It’s laughable what the average American thinks really happens up there by these “statesmen.” Most spend their day with lobbyists or special interest leaders. Some meet with their constituents occasionally throughout the day, most are rarely in their offices. Someday, I’ll write an entire post about how legislation really happens in DC, but suffice it to say, that wasn’t the Founders intent.

In the end, we’ve made rock stars out of these politicians on Capitol Hill and through our lack of civic knowledge, we give them, all the tools they need to rule the citizenry. How sad; what was once a great idea, self governance, has turned back into another monarchy, just this time there’s a bunch of little “kings.”

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Joshua Lyons

Co-Host/Producer at The Forgotten Men Radio Show
Joshua is the co-host of The Forgotten Men radio show, which airs Saturdays at 12 noon ET on AM930 WFMD. The Forgotten Men focus on the current political and economic challenges through the lens of the Constitution and federalism.
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