The expansion of government and its insidious intrusion into our lives takes many forms. But the most incrementally seductive is the nanny state that seeks to mold behavior, from our so-called 'public health' initiatives to variable-type road signs. The former cloak the left's political agenda in the garb of improved health, but since their policy nets are so wide and finely meshed they capture everything from smoking to 'affordable' housing. And, those obnoxious highway signs warn us about the inclement weather that we're currently driving through, so we're left none the wiser.
But, beyond the fatuousness of their messages, covert and overt, such programs ensure that we're kept on a trajectory of incremental infantalization. The corollary is the encroachment on our freedoms which happens so slowly we occasionally find ourselves unwittingly embracing the apparent good will implied in much of these initiatives.
Here in Colorado Springs, a week doesn't pass without some elected official complaining about budget shortfalls due to reduced tax collections. And, although that might lead otherwise intelligent public officials to diligently pursue targeted reductions in spending, that kind of scrupulous self-examination always seems to escape them. Just this week, as Governor Bill Ritter (D) and the Democrat-controlled state legislature bemoaned the impending deficits, Sen. Moe Keller, (D-Wheat Ridge), chairman of the Joint Budget Committee, dismissed the notion that further spending cuts would be easy. “Colorado doesn’t have fat in its budget, so the cuts we make down the road are going to hurt,” she said.
Fiscal pain, as the current crop of leaders in Washington have aptly demonstrated, is a relative term. The problem is that most elected officials, at the local and national level, don't have adequate reserves of common sense to recognize fiscal fat when they see it. They examine budget cuts in political terms, which taps their 'flight or fight' gene, and since they're terrified of taking a principled stand, at the first sign of political danger they instinctively head for the tall grass, like the gazelle eluding the cheetah.
In nearby Teller County, the state department of transportation is installing those mammoth variable-type road signs. Despite our state's financial woes, these are cropping up everywhere and they must cost a couple hundred grand each. The majority of time they are blank, communicating nothing whatsoever, but on occasion they tell us to be careful of bikes because today is 'ride your bicycle to work day,' or telling us to "Click it or ticket," another nanny state warning to save us from ourselves.
Moreover, trickle-down stupidity is emanating from Washington, as President Obama intends to eliminate risk from our lives. The Consumer Protection Agency isn't nearly expensive or massive enough so he's going to mint another layer of bureaucracy to protect us from predatory credit card companies and mortgages, as if common sense can be codified like a virtue.
The functionally obtuse, like evildoers, will always be with us, but in Obama's world, paying for mistakes is hostile to the common good. His goal, which amounts to a civic exemption from personal responsibility, is a form of pre-emptive cultural penance, because when you eliminate the consequences for imprudent behavior you also remove the potential for lessons learned.
In the metastasizing area of 'public health,' the savage fitness programs hatched at the county level are a kind of nagging parent, telling us to exercise or stop smoking, lest the ill effects of a life of indolence or nicotine addiction puts us in an early grave. With its myopic goal of decimating two thousand years of learning, the liberal polity also jettisoned the quaint lessons imparted by a life of duty, obligation, and, yes, discipline. Now, many health insurance plans include a personal trainer to lose weight--they call it 'prevention'--and, despite the fact that one in six fails the program, it marches on moronic denial of reality.
Politics can't abide a vacuum, which is why liberalism is so successful. Our apparent incapacity to face life's challenges alone left us at the mercy of the left's agenda of replacing personal responsibility with government programs. And, as the sainted Ronald Reagan astutely observed, the only thing on earth that enjoys immortality, is a government program.