By Marty Richman
My experience has been that the Hollister Free Lance usually
does a good job of covering political issues directly affecting the
citizens of Hollister and San Benito County.That is why I am
disappointed this Independence Week that the Free Lance did not
publish editorial commentary concerning the problems that have
developed in America’s relationship between the government and the
By Marty Richman
My experience has been that the Hollister Free Lance usually does a good job of covering political issues directly affecting the citizens of Hollister and San Benito County.That is why I am disappointed this Independence Week that the Free Lance did not publish editorial commentary concerning the problems that have developed in America’s relationship between the government and the governed.
The principles of that relationship were laid out in what many believe to be the finest political document ever written; I refer to the central theme of the Declaration of Independence. In just a few words, the declaration explains the fundamental rights of man and essential relationship between the government and the people:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
Beautiful, isn’t it? The way people write these days, it would probably require 100 paragraphs to express the same thoughts that reside in those 111 words.
If you asked me to select the single greatest threat to America’s future, I would not pick terrorism, illegal immigration, partisanship, the price of oil, or global warming (or global cooling, being that I’m old enough to remember when they told us the next ice age was just around the corner).
I’d select the enormous and widening gap, the great divide, between the expectations of the citizens and the promises made by their government. Here I refer to government at all levels – federal, state, county, and city.
As with any complex failure, there is more than enough blame to go around. People demand the government fix their every problem and cater to their every need – at no cost or inconvenience to the citizens – naturally.
The government, mindful of the citizens’ wishes promises to do just that and ever more – promises they can never keep – but the promises help them get elected and re-elected.
Barry Goldwater summed it up, “A government that is big enough to give you all you want is big enough to take it all away.”
Detailing the encyclopedia of failures – be it the federal Medicare deficit and lack of border security, the state’s hopeless education and transportation systems, the county’s bloated budget and propensity for wasteful spending, or the city’s years of neglect of its wastewater treatment facilities and ongoing economic malaise – would just be shooting fish in a barrel; I’m going to pass up the opportunity.
The vital question is how do we fix the system?
And in that area I have a few ideas.
First, do your part. Being a good citizen means obeying most of the rules most of the time and obeying all the important rules all the time.
It’s as simple not driving under the influence, and in making sure your teenagers are where they are supposed to be when they are supposed to be there. In other words, reject the trendy characterization of helpless victim, rely less on the government and more on yourself and your friends and family.
Second, demand honesty, efficiency and effectiveness from government. Don’t be bought off by the prospect of political favors or put off by excuses. Keep your expectations reasonable; in the vernacular, “You can’t get something for nothing.”
Remember, government will respond if you participate and remain persistent. If you only show up when you have a complaint, the politicians will take you, and your vote, for granted.
Finally, and most important, never forget that when you give government more responsibility and more power you diminish your personal freedom equally. Sometimes this may be necessary, but it’s never desirable. The oft-quoted Anonymous said it best, “Liberty is the right to choose. Freedom is the result of the right choice.”
Marty Richman is a Hollister resident