Imagine you own a car, and that car is on fire.
Not a little bit, a lot. Flames are prevalent.
Also, this car has no tires now, just the rims. The windshield is badly cracked too.
Oh, and the frame is rusted. There’s no paint, anywhere, and those shocks….
It’s really borderline undrivable. But, it’s your car, and you’ve done a lot of miles together.
Now, imagine that this car has also been driven off a cliff.
It hasn’t crashed, though – it’s currently mid-air. (Don’t forget the fire part, either)
As your formerly majestic car roars through the air – on fire – how do you see this working out?
Do you think it’s going to stick the landing? All the passengers will just walk away?
Or, is it more likely that after years of faithful service, the joy ride is about to end?
This is a metaphor.
This is also the situation with the US Government.
Even if you don’t feel the heat of the fire or pull of gravity quite yet… We’re all mid air, heading down. The flames, no matter how impressive they look, are not helping our cause.
Before we dive further into our current predicament, let’s discuss – governments.
Around the world, government action has been responsible for the worst of human actions. World wars, genocide, enslavement, ethnic cleansing – these only happen via central governments. A neighborhood association or little league team can’t invade places.
While not every single government action is evil – on balance, big and powerful governments are net negatives for humans.
If this sounds a little too bleak – let’s go back a step and explore.
The size, scope and annual spending of the US government today must certainly ensure things are amazing. Surely ,citizens are happy, society has what it needs, and problems are few for most. Let’s discuss what the government, our government, is good at:
- Our country’s physical infrastructure is in really good condition.
- There is no mindless bureaucracy or red tape for basic things.
- People definitely trust the government and its workers.
- Citizens like each other, and share a vision for a bright, optimistic future.
- Discourse is open and forthright, never politicized
- Politicians are honest and don’t seek power.
- Costs of living goes down every year as systems get more efficient.
- Working people keep most of their pay so they can become prosperous.
- Lawsuits are never problematic, that system works really well.
- There is no corruption, even at big corporations and defense contractors.
- Public education is exceptional – there is no need for alternatives.
Through its sheer size and scale – the US government ensures that everything is wonderful. Not only is there no room for improvement – there is a strong correlation between a big government and how the general populace feels. Congratulations – you’ve reached utopia.
Ok, back in reality, this is not just a tired argument about small government being ‘better’.
This has nothing to do with that, actually.
Our car is on fire, mid-air, heading for the bottom of a ravine. Remember?
This car used to be great. Smooth running, efficient. Cutting edge when it was built. It was quick and reliable. It handled bumps and undulations with ease.
The car was so good in fact, it adapted over the years to drive on dirt roads and then pave superhighways. It faithfully got we the people, wherever they wanted to go.
Over time though, the car has broken down, slowed and … it’s not the same as it was.
We made our car bigger to fit more people (they brought baggage). And that slowed it down a little, but everyone still fits. Then, different groups started adding on things they wanted – some upgrades, worked great… some, not so much. Now we have a lot of extra ‘stuff’ on the car. Big rims, loud exhaust system, a fancy stereo and dice on the mirror. We’ve got it all.
While all these things were being added, the basics seem to have been forgotten. We didn’t do the preventative maintenance that is required over time. We added more features, but, we ignored reality when the car started running rough. As it lost maneuverability, efficiency, and top speed – we just bolted on more accessories. Now, it can barely go forward under its own weight.
I could go on, but, you get the point. This car is 200 years old, thoroughly overburdened trying to get each of the 330+ million citizens of the US, where they want to go. And instead of bring it to a mechanic for a thorough checkup and maintenance – we keep bolting on expensive shiny new things…
So, now it’s 2020 – and this flaming car that is falling – the people inside are upset. Not a huge surprise, given their shared situation. Everyone in the car is part of a *very* intense discussion.
Notably, while the passengers are indeed in a heated argument, it’s not about the dire situation they all share. Here, in mid-air, on fire – the people discuss who should drive next.
This is where we find ourselves today.
It might seem strange – but the public hasn’t always assumed that more someone, or some government was the answer to every problem. Not that long ago, people were actually pretty skeptical of the idea.
Sadly, the US government has figured out how to bribe the public. All it must do is hand out money and free stuff to certain groups – and then those groups vote for more government. This feedback loop is now so strong that most people can’t imagine when it was any other way. Corporate hand outs, bail outs, wealth transfers, crony capitalism – of course more/bigger government is the answer.
Should the average citizen decide to ask questions, or investigate – they are immediately overwhelmed. The scale and breadth of the government is impossible for anyone to grasp.
Like a black hole, government consumes all – and as it does, it grows ever larger and more powerful. No light can ever see what’s inside at this point.
Society has been conditioned to believe ‘more government’ is the only solution. That tax increase last year that were to fix the roads? No longer sufficient. That huge, wildly inefficient agency created to keep us safe? It needs more people to be effective. Our super massive military can always use a few more good men.
One might wonder when the people might rise and revolt against the suffocating weight of all this. But, that would require them to truly understand what is happening. To see behind the curtain. That used to be the role of journalists, by the way – but we’ve discussed why they have zero incentive to do deep work like this.
To fight something, you have to understand it, even somewhat. If you have no concept of the force against you, it is very hard to defeat it. Add to that, – if your livelihood depends on the government – it’s not very likely you will fight it at all.
The reality is that prosperity created by the people is being wasted. Foreign wars, inefficient departments, bad programs, corporate welfare and so much government pork.
The problem is, these issues creep up on us. They build over time. They occur subtlety, or, in times of crisis – in some made up emergency. That’s a great time to make the government bigger and more powerful.
For a long time, our car has gotten the job done. Even overloaded, even without the maintenance needed. So, we glibly assume it will last forever, and handle any road ahead.
It is hopefully self evident after your own reading and investigation, that, the car is out of control, and it’s not just a driver problem – the entire car needs a tune up.
To learn more, read all 10 short stories on What Is Wrong With America.