Dysfunctional Government

Americans view the government as dysfunctional in different ways depending upon which level of the social strata they inhabit. 

The Founding Fathers sought to create an effective federal government with a minimal structure concentrating upon those functions necessary for a successful country. The Constitution they produced enumerated specific powers to this federal government while reserving all other powers to the states. They purposely created a system of checks and balances to insure that momentary political passions would be difficult to translate into bad legislation, or that nefarious despots would gain control of the levers of power with no check upon their whims. The Founding Fathers had specific memories of revolting against British rule and feared a powerful central government, but they had also come to the conclusion that the disastrous Articles of Confederation were unworkable as a central governing proposition. They attempted to create a government powerful enough to be effective, but not so powerful that it threatened the liberty of the American people. As a failsafe mechanism, they included the Second Amendment to insure that an armed American populace had the means to resist the tyranny of their government should it come to that.

As the Founders feared, the progressives have slowly insinuated themselves at every level of government and particularly infected every part of the growing federal behemoth. Over the course of two centuries, those in power have sought to enlarge the federal government on the excuse that it could be helping in this or that area to alleviate suffering or need despite the original intention of the Founders that Americans remain self-sufficient and independent. The primary mechanism used to expand the federal government’s control over the states, local governments, and the American people has been the distribution of federal funds. With federal funding have come myriad rules for the distribution and application of these funds and the creation of myriad agencies to ride herd over these funds along with the inevitable increase of federal government bureaucrats to staff these agencies. The result of all of this federal government beneficence is a government which has grown unwieldy and tyrannical, unable to accomplish any function well, and legalistic in its treatment of Americans who have grown to resent its frequent encroachments on daily life.

This unwieldy federal government is sold to voters by progressive politicians as the remedy for every imagined social ill or vague notion of social justice despite its inability to effectively accomplish any of the tasks it has claimed as its province. Progressives have infiltrated the institutions which underpin America and succeeded in lowering expectations of Americans in subtle ways as to what they should expect from their government while raising expectations for what they should demand from their government. We have Americans demanding the government magically erase the effects of natural disasters while accepting abysmal economic conditions as if the government’s hands are tied and they can do no better. Surely a government expected to swoop in after a hurricane or tornado has destroyed a region to restore the infrastructure and return residents to the level of comfort to which they have become accustomed can demand the economy perform better than its current subpar 1% growth rate and record unemployment. I mean, if the government is expected to clean up acts of God with speed and efficiency, then surely it can better control the economic activity of humans. You would think!

How one views the dysfunction of government depends largely on where one falls in the social strata of America. Wealthy Americans view the government as dysfunctional because it demands ever greater portions of the gross domestic product while providing inferior service. Government neither produces a product nor turns a profit, rather it demands a portion of the productive wealth of its citizens to offer needed services which the private sector is unable or unwilling to provide, and its citizens consume these services through the government monopoly. The private sector is unable to provide for national defense or resolve disputes between states, so these functions are best left to the federal government. However, with the increase in government size through the increase in government responsibility, customer service by government bureaucrats has grown increasingly worse while the portion of productive wealth demanded by government has grown to unsustainable levels, thus depressing economic activity. When government demands too great a portion of productivity, then productivity falls as the wealthy decide to forgo the pursuit of wealth which must then be handed over to the government.

Poor Americans view the government as dysfunctional because it fails to satisfy their desire to live in the same comfort as those in the upper echelons of wealth. While there are a great number of Americans who find themselves at the bottom of the economic ladder for one reason or another but still manage to work hard without the ability to overcome their economic situation, there is a sizeable segment of poor Americans who have decided that it is the government’s responsibility to provide them with a living. They are motivated by charlatans fanning the flames of the vagaries of social justice to enrich themselves and increase their power. They readily tell these gullible parasites that they are entitled because they live in a country with such economic inequality, never bothering to expound on the other side of that argument concerning the hard work needed to acquire wealth. The capitalist system allows for the accumulation of great wealth and a certain degree of luck is involved, but it is still the only system which rewards the hard work of individuals providing for the needs of mankind and is responsible for raising the standard of living to the highest point in the history of the planet.

Middle class Americans tend to view government dysfunction through the rules and regulations that constantly bombard them on a daily basis along with the loss of income through increasing taxes. The wealthy are able to insulate themselves from these intrusions with money while the poor just ignore them, but the middle class is afforded neither of these luxuries. Middle class existence is a constant struggle to avoid falling out of the middle class while striving to reach the upper levels of wealth which insulates us from the hardships of life. Government rules and regulations thwart attempts to improve middle class levels of wealth while constantly chipping away at what wealth middle class Americans have managed to acquire. Like the wealthy, middle class Americans view the government as dysfunctional for taking too much of the productive wealth while providing poor customer service, and like the poor, they also resent the inability of government to keep the unrealistic promises made by politicians.

The elitists who control the upper echelons of American life as elected officials and institutional administrators seek to preserve a class structure never intended for America by its Founders. They impose myriad government rules and regulations expressly for the purpose of hindering Americans in their climb up the economic ladder of success. They view wealth as an exclusive club and seek to limit its membership by creating unnecessary hoops through which Americans must jump and which are designed precisely for their failure. Having nothing left to lose, the poor often give up in frustration and rail against the system of inequality and the broken social compact whereby hard work is to be rewarded by success of some form. They do not realize that it is the very politicians promising them social justice who have rigged the system for their failure in the first place while enriching themselves in the process. The middle class have much more to lose and are reluctant to risk everything in a revolution to reclaim America and restore the government to its original sustainable focus as intended by the Founders and documented in the Constitution. They prefer to work through the political process which has been rigged by the elitists to provide the same outcome regardless of which political party is selected.

The destructive progressive agenda has been enacted and given free reign over America by President Obama and his acolytes with the predictable and inevitable result of forcing millions of Americans into government dependency where they are intended to be more compliant to elitist control. As more Americans either fall out of the middle class or face the real threat of this eventuality, they have awakened to the rigged political game put in place by the elitists for their benefit at our expense. They are turning away from the two parties which occupy the same portion of the political spectrum in a war of political attrition based on nothing more than winning for the sake of winning at the cost of sacrificing principles in which their leaders never truly believed but paid lip service for their usefulness in getting elected.

Despite persistent rumors of its demise by the progressive media merely wishing they were so, the TEA Party is alive and well slumbering until the next election cycle. The 24-hour news cycle has created the false impression that campaigns never end to benefit the incumbency with their name recognition garnered from being constantly in front of Americans. The idea that a political movement can suddenly appear out of nowhere to affect an election cycle only to fade away afterwards as its members resume their daily lives is inconceivable to those dependent upon constant news. They attempt to explain the movement away and see its slumber as proof that its passion has evaporated while completely misunderstanding the movement or its members.

Americans across the economic spectrum are dissatisfied with their government for different reasons depending upon where they reside on that economic spectrum. Their response to government dysfunction is also dependent on their position in the order of American life. The challenge to rectifying this government dysfunction through any political means is finding a narrative that channels this government dissatisfaction into a coherent platform Americans can understand in relation to their particular position in the social strata. Failing that, revolution may be our only option to restore limited government that respects the liberty of Americans in a clearly focused, sustainable way.

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5 Responses to Dysfunctional Government

  1. Ross Andrews says:

    I really appreciate your writings. I think we share very similar viewpoints although I’m not seeing a “progressive agenda” in the way that you are, but I suspect that it’s because we listen to different news outlets. Have you written anything on the effects of globalization?

  2. Tom Roberson says:

    The progressive agenda has been the infiltration of the institutions which underpin America to advance the agenda of European socialism advocated by the progressives. They’ve made no secret of their desire for European cradle-to-grave socialism here in America.

    I have written on globalization and its effects in past writings. There is no escaping the fact that we live in an interconnected world of global transportation, communications, and business networks. In and of themselves, these are natural developments of our heightened standard of living. Problems surface as certain political movements seek to build an idealized world government atop these global creations. It is important for countries to maintain their sovereignty to maintain their unique cultures and their ability to preserve the liberty of their citizens.

  3. Ross Andrews says:

    Thanks Tom – I appreciate your response. Like I said, I see progressive pressure as a problem, but not “the” problem. I think we have to come to terms with the fact that multi-national corporations are more of a threat to our liberties than do-gooder liberals. Just as it was vogue in the 70’s for corporations to relocate to states where they enjoyed tax shelters and protection from Tort actions, now they are simply relocating offshore to achieve the same purposes. This way (and through their corrupting influence on our legislative process) they get to privatize their profits and socialize their risk. Now they can strip-mine America by lowering prices to drive out independent businesses, and they are protected from representative taxation which would help fund our legitimate infrastructure costs. Then these costs bubble up to the federal level through numerous channels and we the people are left paying the bill. I wish people would start differentiating between pro-business policy, and pro-local-business policy, and admit that US policy currently (like over the past 30+ years) favors global monopolies and harms small and independent businesses. If local businesses/communities were more healthy, massive federal programs like Obamacare would never even be considered.

  4. Tom Roberson says:

    Have you ever stopped to ask why these companies are relocating offshore? It is because the business climate in America has become too oppressive from regulatory and tax perspectives. Capital flows where it is appreciated, and American capital is flowing offshore because our government views it as a source of funding to support continued government expansion. American companies are no longer seen as the agents who build wealth in this country, but as deep-pocketed sources of revenue to be plundered at will. Government does not produce anything and certainly does not produce wealth. It skims revenue from the productive class which is no longer available for investment in building and expanding wealth. Remember, wealth is not money, but “the annual produce of the land and labour of the society” according to Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations. Money is merely a medium of exchange.

    Companies thrive because they provide goods and services to satisfy consumer wants. When they fail to satisfy consumers, they fail. There exist nefarious humans in business who attempt to abuse the market, and one of the legitimate functions of government is to police those markets to prevent these abuses. It is not the companies that are evil, but those humans who abuse the market. Corporate boards have a fiduciary responsibility to their stakeholders to maximize profit within the bounds of the law. These stakeholders include investors who own stock in the company, employees who depend on the company for their livelihood, communities who depend on the company to be good corporate stewards, and consumers who depend upon the company to supply quality products at reasonable prices. When government abuses these companies through unreasonable tax levels and burdensome regulations that serve no purpose, they naturally seek more favorable locations leaving workers without jobs and communities without a portion of their tax base. Everyone suffers when a company relocates, including the company as these moves come with high costs.

  5. Ross Andrews says:

    Thanks Tom, I agree with everything you just said. In a vacuum, these principles would form the engine for the healthiest economy this world has ever known. Unfortunately, humans ARE evil, and that’s the biblical foundation for government itself. Today we have entire business sectors that exist to find loopholes and “opportunities” to subvert regulation. And guess what? That creates a new government sector to close the loopholes and increase regulation in order to create an even playing field for honest businesses to compete freely. If you think that “business” is neutral as a moral agent then I’d argue hubris on your part. The simple fact is that healthy competition can quickly turn unhealthy, especially when special interest’s big money tilt the playing field to narrow or eliminate competition. It’s really a cart-and-horse argument… if business played fair, there would be no need for government regulation. If government regulation didn’t exist, it would give business the opportunity to compete in a fair and free market.

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