A recent column written by Tom Maertens in The Free Press with the headline "Government is not the villain" would have you believe that government must be a hero or a villain.
I say government should not be a hero or a villain but limited in nature. The problem with big government is it deprives society of its most cherished value -- freedom. Advocates of limited government are not anti-government, as some including the letter writer assume. Rather, they are opposed to concentrations of power and arbitrary use of power.
Is government the whole problem? No, but ever over reaching and imposing government is a problem. There are some areas which government is essential -- but those are limited areas. Yes, the government can build roads, train an army and enforce the law, but government in most other activities is inefficient at best. No one bothers to argue that government is an efficient provider of services or a proficient decision-maker.
Government agencies enact an average of 3,500 new regulations per year, or a new government rule every two hours, 24/7. Congress votes on almost none of them. Nevertheless, the regulations number 157,000 pages in the Code of Federal Regulations, at an estimated annual cost to the economy of $1.75 trillion.
Government is reaching into our homes and lives in so many ways and many rely on government for everything. Programs designed to be temporary are not designed to put people back on their feet. When someone needs something they ask the government to provide it to them for free.
America was designed as a "free" nation but not this type of free.
Everything that is "free" has a cost.
The United States of America has a constitution that is designed to give some structure, but with many rules to limit its size and reach. Should you be forced to buy health care? Should you be entitled to free phones? Should you be told what your kids must eat for school lunch? Should the government force small businesses to become unions?
Do we as a nation really believe that government should be relied upon to take care of us from cradle to grave? I think that most of us would answer "no" to all of those questions. Will more government regulations on the size of soda you can buy make folks healthier, so they will not need "free" health care as much? (Just a little known secret to the government -- they can still buy two).
That is your personal freedom and responsibility, to make choices in your life. We have the right to make choices in our lives. Nobody makes them right every time. I for one have learned more from mistakes in life than from doing everything right. I work very hard not to make the same mistake twice.
My logic is: Learn from them, be accountable and move on. Someone who never makes a mistake isn't getting much accomplished.
The federal government taxes us, and then sends about 55 cents of every dollar we pay back to Minnesota, with strings, forcing us to change the way we educate our children -- that's a problem.
Education should be left to the states, as it is not a one size fits all. Now, we have a DFL-led state government that is proposing $2-$4 billion in tax increases to solve a $600 million deficit. Minnesotans agree: We want efficient and effective government that serves citizens well and we should focus on reforms and high quality outcomes for our education systems and human services.
We need to return to a limited federal government with a defined structure so it concentrates on areas needed: Defense, interstate roads and bridges, and some regulations addressing interstate commerce so business can go on.
The 10th Amendment is quite explicit on this point: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."
State and local government also have a role -- one of them making sure the federal government isn't over-extending and imposing their will onto the states.
Big Government is a problem and elections have consequences.
Al DeKruif is a former District 25 state representative. He is the owner of Dekruif Enterprises and Sakatah Trail Resort. He lives in Madison Lake.