Columns / Discourse / January 25, 2012

Observing America: Shrinking down government

Ronald Reagan once said, “Government is not the solution, government is the problem.” ( Every Republican loves to quote Reagan. He was a great president. He didn’t completely live up to that statement, though.

The U.S. did increase the debt in an unprecedented way due to the Cold War. In fact, President Reagan increased the debt ceiling 18 times; this is in comparison to George W. Bush’s seven times. (

Even though the Gipper didn’t fully live up to his statement, he was right. More government is not the answer to our problems. In fact, there is a current example that speaks to the heart of the matter.

Senator Rand Paul was recently detained at an airport for denying to be patted down by the TSA. Doesn’t it seem ludicrous to suspect that a U.S. Senator is a Homeland Security threat? According to Senator Paul, son of current Republican President Candidate Ron Paul, he was highly inconvenienced at the Nashville airport. Paul recalls that, “It was a big headache.”

It wasn’t just because he was escorted to the local law-enforcement. As he was waiting at the office, the Senator felt quite mistreated. He said, “I tried to leave the cubicle to speak to one of the TSA people, and I was barked at: ‘Do not leave the cubicle!’”

That sounds like detention contrary to what the White House believes. White House Press Secretary, Jay Carney, responded to the incident by saying that the Senator was not detained. (

However, this isn’t about the Transportation Security Administration. Examples like this show how ineffective government can be. There are several similar cases. For example, the Gulf Oil Spill. What were the regulators doing when BP was violating several environmental laws?

The same can be said about the mortgage crisis. The housing debacle didn’t start because the “evil” private sector wanted to take advantage of people. It started with President Bill Clinton. He endorsed the National Homeownership Strategy of 1994, which “promoted paper-thin down payments and pushed for ways to get lenders to give mortgage loans to first-time buyers with shaky financing and incomes.” (

It’s examples like these that annoy the heck out of people. Government is involved in many spheres of our lives and it screws up. It doesn’t get things done.

This doesn’t mean that libertarians should rule the U.S. This is far from it. Libertarianism is the antithesis of order. It’s scary. Government is a necessary evil like James Madison believed. Yet government needs to do a better job. Government should not be causing crises like these.

Detaining a U.S. Senator is ridiculous, but that’s how our government is. If they can barely screen people at airports, then how can they handle taxpayers’ money? How can they handle wars like Afghanistan? How can they be trusted with people’s civil rights? How can they be trusted with people’s pensions? It’s simple. They can’t be trusted.

Government should just do what the Constitution tells them to do. That’s it. That’s how the Founders viewed government because they knew government would mess up.

Just do your job and then we can talk.

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