Seriously, Now, What DO You Want?

From the recent ravings of 76-year-old Texan Ron Paul, you would think the entire government was berserk. He wasn’t at all happy with the Republican budget proposal. Apparently he wants everything to stop.

“We are dealing with a problem in Washington as a budgetary accounting problem and that’s not it. It’s a philosophy problem.” Paul said. “What is the philosophy of government? What should the role of government be?” (Speaking in Iowa at a forum organized by the Family Leader, a local Christian and socially conservative group, as reported by Huffington Post, 11 April 2011.)

I certainly agree with that! It’s a philosophy problem, and we’re not dealing with it. I suspect, however, that Paul has a philosophy of government diametrically opposite to mine. Apparently, his version of what the government should do is: practically nothing, Bruce.

Aside from, say, the military, and maybe the highways, one can only assume that Paul believes most other duties of the government should simply be shut down. To me that sounds like a recipe for making us the equivalent of—what?—some dysfunctional African or former Soviet nation? An ancient Chinese dynasty with a filthy-rich emperor and fifty million overtaxed poverty-stricken peasants?

We are a nation of 311,149,232 people as of 11 April 2011, by the Census Bureau’s population clock. Although our population is dwarfed by China’s nearly two billion population, just try counting to one million some week when you have nothing else to do, then imagine doing it 311 times more. We have a hell of a lot of people to have virtually no government. How does Paul propose to promote or even protect everyone’s prosperity, such as it may be, let alone to prevent a rapid descent into chaos?

But neither Paul nor the great conservative mini-gov crowd ever seem to say just exactly what it is that government should do. All they say is that we should have the least government possible. That’s not a program; it’s a cliché. It’s meaningless.

What would it be like? Yes, the welfare state would be ended. What would be the effect on those 311-million people, particularly those millions who depend on government money for survival? With few taxes to pay, would we all have more to spend? Frankly, I seriously doubt it. Government determines the rules under which we earn our money, and how business is done. Does anyone seriously think that business would suddenly get religion? If you do, you’re dreaming. Two out of three corporations don’t pay any taxes at all.

Let everyone work for their living, say the mini-gov people. Sure, let’s have the 80-year-old granny with emphysema take a job at Wal-Mart. Let’s make the man who had to retire because of severe diabetes become a trucker. After all, those people must have done something wrong to have their diseases, right?

Folks, this is insanity. A government has a moral duty to do it’s best not only for those who can’t take care of themselves, but it has a duty to establish conditions for prosperity for us all. Individual character, which conservatives say is the main strength of the nation, means nothing when hard times arrive at everybody’s doorstep because government ain’t doing its job. Frontier days have been gone for some time now. We depend on each other, and we depend on government.

What is it you want, conservatives? Saying you want limited government is just so much mouthwash. What does that mean? What, precisely, are the government’s duties? It is pointless to go down the road we are on, slashing things left and right, with only the goal of slashing. Simply saying “small government” tells us nothing.

So far, neither Ron Paul nor any other of the mini-gov crowd have been able to say anything at all useful about what the government responsibility for 311-million people should be. Tell us! Tell us what it should all look like when it’s right. Give us some real numbers. What would the US be like? Tell us now, before you ruin it all!

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