We have created a profession — politics — in which the professionals acquire and maintain power and wealth through their ability to “bring home the bacon” for their constituents, whom they view as ignorant and helpless.
The politician’s self-interest drives him to secure ever-increasing revenue (higher taxes) to ensure he has ever-increasing power to advance his career through bargaining with colleagues to bring home more bacon to his district.
Politicians must think we can’t figure out that the money they’re bringing home comes from our wallets, passes through a series of middlemen who all take their cut, returns to us greatly diminished, and gets used for purposes beyond our control. In addition, most of the spending goes to programs that are demonstrable failures or for which no success benchmark exists.
In this way, the locus of accountability has been moved so far away from your home that you have virtually no say in how your money is spent. That’s remote-control government. Your county government has little control over what happens locally. Its autonomy and your liberty have been traded away in exchange for the perpetual political incumbency that comes from handing out giant checks from afar.
Enough is enough!
Of course, this shell game wasn’t born yesterday. Our nation was forged in revolution when the colonists said “enough is enough” to a remote ruler who taxed them while giving them no say in how their money was spent:
But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
Those today who would have you sit down and shut up will argue that we have not been reduced under “absolute Despotism.” You’re not being shot in the streets by government troops or jailed for expressing free speech. No, today’s abuses and usurpations are far more subtle, and the abusers and usurpers far more clever.
These velvet despots murmur sweet nothings in your ear, like Delilah wooing Samson, and as you slumber they quietly cut off the source of your power. When you finally wake up, you find yourself chained to a turnstile, working for them.
It’s time to “throw off” such government, and to provide new guards for our future security. I’m not talking about armed revolt. As the new usurpers rule without employing physical force, so the new revolutionaries rebel without shouldering firearms.
Where to focus your energy
Here’s the counter-intuitive part. Even though the most massive spending gets authorized in Washington D.C., that’s not where we should focus our most vigorous efforts.
Believe it or not, it’s in the best interest of the usurper to keep our outrage focused on Capitol Hill or on the White House, because we can have little impact there. We can try to prune the branches, but they’ll just grow back and spawn more bitter fruit. We need to start with the root system.
Go to your county government website today and download the budget. If it’s not there, call and request a copy. (Be careful. When I called, they offered to sell me one for 25-cents per page — 897 pages = $224.25. If they have a PDF version, they must provide it at a nominal fee or free.) Recruit some friends who understand how to run a business and comb through that document together. Gather over dessert and have fun with this. Get the children involved. Create a local blog and post your findings. Send letters to the local media about it. Write to your county leaders requesting answers to the questions your study has raised.
Demand documentation on the actual results of government human services spending. Work with others in the community to find local solutions for local needs and to restore individual liberty and accountability.
Tell your county leaders to stop soliciting remote funding for ongoing local programs. When they pose for photos handing over giant checks, you show up and present them with a giant withdrawal slip, symbolizing our intention to take our money back from remote-control government.
Focus on maximum impact
Pay attention to what’s happening in Washington, D.C., and your state capital, but don’t get distracted from your mission. Focus on the place where you can have the most impact.
We must let our local government officials know that we’re wise to the shell game and that there is no free lunch.
If they don’t get the message, throw them out of office and elect citizens who will restore common sense to government. (Hint: They won’t get the message. You may as well start by throwing them out.)
Finally, don’t rule out the possibility that the “common sense citizen” who should step up and run for local office might just be … you.