Tuesday, March 26, 2013

What We Gave the Government

By Dave Dargo
In the previous post I discussed how we, the people, created the national government through the Constitution.  It seems more and more that the national government has forgotten that it was created by the people and, unfortunately, many of the people have either forgotten or, more sadly, never knew the origin of the national government.

When the government was created it was done with a document designed to severely restrict the power, reach and influence of that government.

It seems that we have reached a point where many people accept the concept that the government has always been there and it is being benevolent when it gives something back to us.  Whether it's a tax break or permission to do something many among us are of the mistaken belief that it is the largess and kindness of the government that makes such things possible.

There was an interesting debate last year when President Obama so infamously said, "...you didn't bulid that."  Many supporters of the President cried foul when his detractors jumped on the words and claimed that the words were being taken out of context.  Here is his full quote:  

There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me – because they want to give something back. They know they didn't – look, if you've been successful, you didn't get there on your own. You didn't get there on your own. I'm always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something – there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.
President Obama with the House Democratic Caucus
If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you've got a business – you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn't get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.
The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don't do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.
While there's a lot that can be debated about where these things come from, the overall message misses a critically important point about how those things the government provides got built.

Long before we had a Department of Education or local school boards, we did community schooling.  We did our own community firefighting and policing as well.  At some point, we, the people, decided that it would be more efficient if we had professional teachers, firefighters and police officers.  We, the people, decided to create the boards of education and the fire and police departments.  We, the people, decided that we wanted to have paved roads.

When we made those decisions we, the people, also decided to have professional organizations manage the schools, the fire and police departments, the road systems and the water works.  The quote above from the President comes from a perspective that the government was there all along and decided to gift those things to us.  The government decided it would be a good idea to have schools, roads, firefighters and police officers.

That's the problem between the government and the people.  Many of us remember what we studied and respect the foundational principles that established a limited government.  The government has never given us anything because they've never had anything to give.  It's we the people that decided what the government was going to have.

Finally, there's a huge debate today about whether or not the government will take away the right to keep and bear arms.  This is another debate that is on the wrong side of history.

The government never gave us permission to have firearms.  We, the people, don't need permission to have firearms.  Rather, it is we, the people, who gave the government permission to have firearms.  Sometimes I think that was a mistake.

Next up is a somewhat modern example from when the government actually realized they had little power and what they legally did to gain more power.

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