We've had a lot to say about government's inability to get anything constructive done anymore. Although past infrastructure projects such as the interstate highway system contributed greatly to our economic growth, more recent government projects have destroyed social value instead of creating it.
To name but one example, the Wall Street Journal reported on September 2, 2011, P A11 that the Obama stimulus paid $300,000 to install solar panels on a library. The county boasts that the panels cut the electric bill by $14,000 per year, but the panels last only about 15 years. The feds paid $300,000 to shave $150,000 off the net present value of the county's future electric bill.
We've also pointed out that government's efforts as creating programs such as affirmative action, welfare, foreign aid, anti-poverty programs, and child protection have resulted in more harm than good.
It seems strange that any society would waste such vast amounts of wealth, but old beliefs in a caring and competent government die hard even though the nature of our government has changed enormously over the last century. In this article, we explain precisely why a modern, bureaucratic, monolithic government can't actually benefit people no matter how much money is spent nor how much the politicians pontificate.
This is a conversation we have to win. It's clear that we can't afford all the social programs leftists want to fund. They'll never stop because they need to use our money to bribe people to vote for them.
As conservatives, we must point out that these programs don't work because they can't work. That's the only way to win the conversation and convince caring, thinking people that government "help" is in fact harmful. As with job creation, the only way to actually help people is for private individuals and organizations to do it.
Even if government agencies based on the "caring professions" were set up with the best of intentions, government bureaucracies turn out to be unable to take beneficial care of people. It's become so hard to do actual good from inside the government that caring volunteers have to bypass the agencies to actually benefit people.
There is a simple reason - government employees can't take care of people because they don't care about people.
Despite the dismal record and the ever-growing evidence that we simply can't afford all this, liberal politicians continue to expound on the necessity of government taking care of more and more people. Whenever there's talk of spending cuts, Liberals scream, "Don't you care about the children?" or "What about the old people?"
Take Hillary Clinton, for example. In her book "It Takes a Village," she states that she wants to set up government programs to help parents raise their children. In an October 16, 2008 speech at the YWCA in Manchester, NH, she said:
You know when I wrote that book back in 1995 and 96, and said it takes a village to raise a child, some people said well that doesn't apply to us. That's an old African proverb. I think it applies to any society. We may implement it differently. ... So I'm going to be asking all of us to think of ways we can help to make it just a little easier so that our young parents know that the most important job they have is not going to be undermined by the job they have to do to bring home the income that supports them and their family. [emphasis added]
She's correct in saying that raising children is important and in noting that young parents come under awful strains, but a lot of this stress is due to the long-term effects of government policies.
The rest of her speech and her web site brimmed with plans to spend federal money helping parents raise their children even though government intervention generally makes things worse. We all know that when parents don’t want government help, social workers go to court to force “coercive intervention” on them.
As we've seen, our government doesn't know much about raising kids and does a measurably worse job than all but the most horrifically abusive natural parents. The reason is based in human nature - raising children is an immense amount of work.
A child's parents or relatives do this work for free out of love, duty, and a sense of responsibility. Everybody else in a child's life – teachers, social workers, foster parents, day care staff – do it not for duty, but because they're paid. These people don't have to care, all they have to do is get hired.
Being government employees, they can't be fired no matter how lousy they turn out to be. You get the occasional good-hearted soul who truly does care about the children placed in their charge, and we all know heroes like that who should be honored and respected, but for most people, a job is a job and that's all it is. They're hirelings, pure and simple.
Children are extraordinarily sensitive to the attitudes of adults around them. Kids quickly pick up their parents' attitudes towards persons of other races, for example.
Similarly, children know whether they're being cared for out of love or for pay; a child can spot a phony hireling across a crowded day-care center.
Back in the day before the government muscled its way into the child care business, relatives took children in when parents died. They weren't paid; they did it out of love, duty, and responsibility. Mrs. Clinton admitted this in her speech; she said,
“You know, my parents would come and stay with us for a couple of weeks at a time or Bill who was then Governor of Arkansas and needed to take a trip. And I wanted to go and they'd come and take care of our daughter. And we had this network of friends and family that was always there for us.” [emphasis added]
Precisely. Mrs. Clinton had help from her parents, from her friends, and from her family, she didn’t get government help! These people helped her out of love and duty. Government hirelings can never substitute for love-driven, duty-driven friends and relatives.
The bureaucracy knows this, of course, but they'll never admit it because they might lose some of their budget.
This doesn’t mean Hillary is lying. She might actually, honestly, believe that government could take care of us because it takes care of her. Unlike us peasants at the bottom of the pile, however, Hillary has always been at the top of the government food chain.
Think back to when she was the wife of the governor of Arkansas. When she had to renew her driver's license, did she get the usual flack we citizens get when we simply must visit the DMV? Or did the bureaucracy go into "pain avoidance" mode and take care of her?
Governor Lynch (D-NH) and Senator Shaheen (D-NH) don’t wait in line with the peasants when they renew their driver’s licenses, they sneak in the back and get their pictures taken at their convenience or a DMV person shuts down a line and lugs the camera wherever the VIP is at the time.
When there were issues with Hilary’s vehicles, did the cops give her grief or did they take care of the problem? When the governor of New Jersey got in a car crash, it turns out he wasn't wearing a seat belt even though a state cop who had taken an oath to enforce the law was driving him. Do cops cut governors and their families slack?
What about health care? When she was first lady, Hillary was a beneficiary of the government-run health care system, which provides superb, but expensive care for the elite few. Even though a great many politicians are trying to solve the problem of health care in the US, nobody has proposed opening this federal system to the rest of us or forcing them to take whatever they give us.
Given their personal life experiences, Hillary Clinton and other top politicians might actually believe that government could take care of us if we'd only follow their enlightened leadership. If they really believe that, it’s easy to understand their impatience when we peasants throw their wonderful programs back at them.
Having been on the receiving end of government “help” and “service” for a long time, we know that government has no trouble taking care of a few high-end politicians but it can't help those of us on the bottom of the pile. Bureaucrats care about the power elite but they don't care about us. We have to let our elites know why we don’t like their ideas, though. We have to win the conversation by explaining why government "help" makes societal problems worse.
We are all used to governmental incompetence; we know that a major reason government agencies get so little done is that their unionized employees can't be fired. This article explains that in addition to the usual bureaucratic obstacles to getting rid of non-performers, "caring agencies" have another problem - genuine caring, which is the only effective kind, can't be bought no matter how much you pay.
Parents and relatives care about children for emotional reasons seated deep in our personal biology. Although some government employees actually care about the people they're trying to help, there are so many other obstacles to progress that the truly caring burn out, leaving behind those who don't care.
Thus, we not only can't afford for the government to try to take care of people, our modern monolithic bureaucratic government is inherently incapable of caring.
The fewer resources government wastes funding agencies which abuse people, the more money citizens will have with which to take care of their friends, families, and neighbors themselves. This is as it should be.