In government, as in people’s personal lives, when money gets tight, folks start looking for places to save money. Whatever gets cut out of the budget is going to affect someone and that someone usually has the ear of some public official. In turn, that official attempts to get the funding restored for his or her constituents.
That’s the way the game is played and everyone knows it. It’s generally a classic case of the squeaky wheel getting the grease. The game has been going on for so long, most folks don’t realize our nation’s founders didn’t set up the government that way. No, they had more of a limited government in mind; that’s why the U.S. Constitution lays out exactly what powers are assigned to which branch of the federal government. The Constitution is clear on this and for those wishing to bend the rules to fit a particular situation, the Tenth Amendment reads, “the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”
That’s pretty clear, right? If the feds aren’t given a specific power by the Constitution, they don’t have the authority to do it. Unfortunately, over the years politicians have been whittling away at this basic rule and the American people have let them get away with it. Why? Because when the government oversteps the Constitution, it usually bestows favors on one group or another with the understanding that everyone will eventually get their share. Since everyone gets a piece of the federal budget, no one wants to rock the boat for fear of losing his slice of the pie. We see that as one of the biggest problems facing America today.
The federal government was not set up to take care of us; it was designed to protect our liberties. It would accomplish this by protecting the states from attack by a foreign enemy and ensuring the people were protected from attacks on their rights by other citizens and government at all levels. Our Founding Fathers did not envision a government that would attempt to protect us from all injury, baby-sit our children before and after school, take care of us in our golden years or any of the other myriad things some Americans now expect from their government.
The problem with expecting the government to care for us and protect us from all harm is that it substitutes government control for personal responsibility. Every time we allow the feds into our lives, we lose a measure of our liberty to live as we please. There’s no such thing as a free lunch and government aid comes with strings attached. That’s how the feds try to get states to get on board with such things as seat-belt laws and lower blood-alcohol levels — they threaten to cut back on the amount of money recalcitrant states receive for highways.
Americans shouldn’t debate the size of a Medicare prescription drug plan, they should debate whether or not that is something the government should concern itself with at all. Former Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater once said, “A government that is big enough to give you all you want is big enough to take it all away.” And if it takes it all away, we no longer will live in the land of the free and the home of the brave.