From the Lefthand Corner: Government is as good as we make it
We as a society like to waste a lot of time complaining about our government. Overall, our multi-tiered government (with notable exception) is pretty good. It has been quite stable over almost two and a half centuries. We have had a quiet, free a...
We as a society like to waste a lot of time complaining about our government.
Overall, our multi-tiered government (with notable exception) is pretty good. It has been quite stable over almost two and a half centuries. We have had a quiet, free and safe environment over the years.
Really, our government is as good as we collectively make it. Remember, our government is us.
Good government comes from the many - hopefully majority - of participants who are willing to serve their town or city, county, state or nation as good faith civic engagement to make their constituents' area a better place for all its inhabitants to be.
Bad government comes from those who are in politics for their own benefit, to line their own pockets, to massage their ego or play their own personal power games.
"Participation" is a bigger and better word than "power."
I think the best government we have exists in our own neighborhoods. It is of the township, village or small city or local school board variety.
I can remember as a small boy that Dad served on the township board. On Election Day, the whole board served as election judges. They took turns going home for lunch and dinner and to do most necessary chores.
It is no surprise that the six-member board - Republicans and Democrats alike - were all men. When they went home, they took a blank ballot with them for their wife to fill out, brought it back and stuffed it in the ballot box.
It was the most convenient way for everyone to vote since families had only one car and most women didn't drive. It was a bit informal, but it worked. It could be viewed as ahead of its time - a forerunner to our absentee ballot. Republicans and Democrats trusted each other, and there were no charges of voter fraud.
To this day we have the best of government right here in Loon Lake Township. There has been a very gradual turnover, but most board members have been there for umpteen years and know the township inside and out. They know what they need to levy in taxes and how to spend the resulting income fairly and cautiously.
We can all wish bigger governmental entities could learn to do the same.
Area small towns are a lot of the same. Every so often, they get bogged down in controversy where bad governing boils to the surface, sometimes unintentionally, but usually over personal agendas or personality battles.
Every so often we have to learn, a la the local Highway 371 donnybrook, that delay is very costly to all concerned, and may or may not improve the end result.
The more remote the center of government - e.g. state or federal - the more difficult it is to achieve good government. Unfortunately, as size and the stakes get bigger, so do the temptations and chances for big money to take over. The "little guy" gets lost in the shuffle, and we get stuck with lesser qualified and less principled folks prevailing, at least for a time.
So, as government gets bigger and more remote, it becomes more subject to money influence, less effective and less efficient.
However, instead of complaining all the time, let's take more time to appreciate what we have here in America.
We don't need to spend any more time patting ourselves on the back and boasting to the world how "great we are" or were or will be. That has done enough worldwide damage already, and whichever it is - none of us did it ourselves.
We've got the exact same number of "self-made men" in this country as we have Bigfoots.
Let's just look at hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Jose as current examples for the need and value of government.
America should be in appreciation of and proud of all the governmental units that are in action right now, and standing by to serve those in dire need.
How many anti-government people will be complaining about costs of highway construction when Floridians were speeding north to get away from impending disaster?
How many anti-government folks had much to say when they saw government first responders braving dangerous, in fact deadly, conditions to help those who couldn't help themselves get away, or those who had waited too long?
How many anti-government people voiced any complaint about travel costs upon hearing the reassuring words that National Guard units were on their way to provide expert assistance?
How many complaints are there going to be about the costs of building government subsidized hospitals or, for that matter, about the ills of Obamacare as the injured are given medical treatment?
Even when some states, cities and counties clamor for help, and when Trump and Congress try to outdo each other in gaining political points in appropriating budget-busting billions in dealing with the devastating damage, how many are going to scream about wasteful spending?
Continue to complain if you must, but it is far better to acknowledge and appreciate what we've got and what government does for us all.
We've had the rare status of the same freedoms of expression, freedom to vote without fear, freedom of religion - all belatedly, but gradually improving ever since this America began.
Not many in the vast world have so much.
Remember our government is us. It is what we altogether make it. Don't just complain. Get involved.