“Necessity is the mother of invention.” So the saying goes. If invention is a good thing, then, so, too is her mother, necessity. Necessity, though, means hardship. It means something is lacking, something is needed. It means there is a need of some product or service that will invariably make our lives better. Maybe it is a type of screw that holds roofs together in hurricane-force winds or a computer processor that is twice as fast as the previous one. Whatever the invention, it is satisfying some need we have.
What about America in 2023? What, exactly, do we need or lack? I can't think of much. Oh, I know there are some people lacking money and food and clothing. There are today and there always will be people that have those needs. And I suppose those with 19’ inch color TVs in 1984 did not yet know they “needed” 80”4K TVs.
But do we face the kind of titanic needs that only government can provide? Do we have the kind of lack that only government intervention can cure? In listening to the Republican Primary debate the other night, that would be the impression one was left with. The checklist for what the Republicans want the government to do for us was quite extensive. So much so that it left me feeling stressed. So much to do, so little time! And absolutely zero extra cash lying around.
Big Government Republicans
I think it was because of the style and tone of the language the candidates kept using, as they kept saying “we need to” do this and “we have to” do that. I actually found the transcript for it and looked up “need to” and “have to.” Combined the phrases were used almost 100 times. Some of the uses of those phrase were innocuous and several times I agreed that we “need to” secure the porous Southern border or “we have to level with the American people.”
But, in general, the candidates running for office positioned themselves as people who need to or have to do things for our citizens so the burdens of education and healthcare can be eased. And that is the Republicans (!), the party that more or less believes in personal liberty and free markets. Good thing there are no Democrat Primary debates this year or the moon might be promised on a platter for the needy American masses.
It is a time-tested strategy of creating value by having plans, programs, and solutions to our problems. None of them will say, “Solve your own damn problems,” although I’m starting to think they should and I’m starting to wish they would.
Mike Pence: “We need to build a military fitted to the widening challenges in an ever more dangerous world.”
Ron DeSantis: “And what we need to do with health care is recognize our health care is putting patients at the back of the bus. We have Big Pharma, Big Insurance, and Big Government. And we need to tackle that, and have more power, for the people, and the doctor-patient relationship.”
Chris Christie: “We have to address all students.”
Vivek Ramaswamy: “We have to bring back mental health care in this country…"
Again, some of those sound like good principles. And some problems are so big, a collective--like a government--is needed. I'm not an anarchist.
But many, if not most, problems will solve themselves if we allow for failure. But if we don't allow people to fail, we never really feel the cost of failure. So we delay the inevitable.
Out of a job? No worries, we have unemployment.
Need an education? No worries, we have the Department of Education for that.
Have kids out of wedlock? No worries, we have welfare for that.
There’s a conflict somewhere on earth? No worries, we’ll send in the military.
Sick? No worries, we have government insurance to cover it.
Drug addict in the middle of an OD? No problem, the EMT's will save your life.
Homeless criminal? Here's a tent, clothes, hot food, clean needles, and a promise never to arrest you.
You raped and murdered an innocent person? No worries, we’ll let you out for good behavior soon.
I can think of no area of life in which the government is not intimately involved in order to, you know, save us from ourselves. The food we eat, the education we receive, the house we buy, the gas stove we cook on, the lawn mower we push, the car we drive, the medicine we take, the air we breathe ... all regulated, controlled, or provided by the government.
A Party the Believes in Us Instead of Itself
Heaven forbid we solve the majority of our own problems or face the consequences for our sins. Heaven forbid we decide what food we want to eat, educate our own children, feel the pain of drug addiction, learn how to keep a job, or face serious jail time or the death penalty for serious crimes.
I should not, as a taxpayer, have to offset your failures to be healthy, get pregnant, or educate your children. And yet, because politicians create value by proposing solutions to problems, we have an endless loop of tax collection and distribution, all with zero accountability. And now, our “safety net” is so vast, we take on $2 trillion dollars of debt per year so avoid the consequences of failure.
So I guess I’m a conservative Republican because “we” “believe” in “limited government” and “personal responsibility.” Not that you could observe that from our elections and debates. But if there was a viable party whose motto was, "Fix it yourself," I'd vote for that. Because if we were ever allowed to feel the pain of our failings, most problems would quickly fix themselves.
Photo Credit- reuters.com