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Words from Winterbilt

Donít trust the government?

Shannon Bohrer

(3/2016) How many times and how long have we heard from political candidates, disgruntled persons and or groups, tell us that we cannot trust the government? I am sure that if we examine the federal government we could find numerous examples of poor management, overreach of authority and just plain incompetence. There have been news programs and other media specials with the focus on fixing our broken government. The government problems are thought to be so common that political candidates tell us that is why they are running for office, to fix the broken government. The candidates inundate us every four years with slogans of; hope and change, a new beginning, restoring America and taking back our government. Did you ever wonder who abducted the government?

"When they call the roll in the Senate, the Senators do not know whether to answer 'Present' or 'Not Guilty'." Theodore Roosevelt

While complaining about our government is a national obsession, and has been for a very long time, a case could be made that we can easily overlook the good things that the government does. Because of our government we have infrastructure with roads and bridges, we have public schools, we have police and fire protection and we also have a military to defend us. And, if you are over 65 as I am, you have social security and Medicare, two very important government run programs. So if we also have the good with the bad, why are we always talking about the bad?

The good thing(s) the government does is not without problems. A good example is the lack of clean drinking water in Flint Michigan. Flint is a poster case of government incompetence. But we also have the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which has clean drinking water standards. If the state and local government adhered to those standards the water problem in Flint may not exist. On a national scale, what would the condition of our drinking water be like Ė without national standards?

While we have this national obsession and habit of complaining about our government, there are specific groups in our society that really see the government as the enemy. An example includes the individuals and groups that occupied the federal wildlife sanctuary in Princeton, Oregon. (Some were still there when I wrote this, but some were arrested) If the occupiers (including Mr. Bundy) had their way, the federal government would turn over all federal lands to the ranchers and/or the states. Under their vision the states that received the lands would then gift the former federal lands to them. Obviously these individuals and groups have an agenda that would benefit them, but only if we had a government to their liking. However, if the Federal government did turn over the federal lands to the states, the states would be selling them to the highest bidders. Of course the highest bidders, the very wealthy, would then tell the ranchers with leases to vacate the premises. Then I would predict that the same ranchers would be petitioning the federal courts (the government) to intervene. Having everything your way is not how our government works, nor is suppose to.

I do believe that many people have valid complaints about the government, not unlike the water problems in Flint. When the government does not address or solve an issue that we believe should be solved, we all see the incompetence. Others just say the government is too big and it should be smaller. How big is too big and how small should it be is never said. A survey among tea party conservatives, people that believe in a smaller government, found that the majority believed the government should keep Social Security and Medicare. If the government does something we like, itís ok, but if the government does something that we donít like or impacts us in a negative way, then the government is "taking our freedoms and our rights."

"We must not look to government to solve our problems. Government is the problem." President Ronald Reagan

While the national pass time is complaining about our government, we also are a nation that has pride in our country. We love our county, we love our flag and we believe we are the best nation on earth. We celebrate our history, we admire and respect our military and we celebrate our national holidays with pride. Even the individuals and groups that complain so much about the government, like the ones occupying the federal wildlife sanctuary in Oregon, wave the American flag. In particular we love our freedom of speech, which is helpful so we can complain about the government that runs the country we love.

One has to ask, how does that work? How can we complain so much about the government that runs the country that we love? It seems incongruous in so many ways. Itís like saying we love our marriage but we donít like our spouse? Or, we like our spouse but we donít like our marriage? I find it strange that we love our military but we donít like the government that runs it? It seems inharmonious to believe we have the best county on earth and yet our government that runs the country is so incompetent.

"Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rules of our democracy are not a President and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country" Franklin D. Roosevelt

Maybe our government just works in slow motion, maybe it was designed to do so. It is cumbersome, often inefficient and yet ensures the exercise of freedom, including the freedom of citizens to criticize the same body they complain about. If, we had a government that worked fast and was very efficient, it may not resemble what the founding fathers created. Our government was created to be encumbered, with the thoughts, ideas, complaints and criticisms of all citizens, so we are all heard. That does not means the government cannot be improved, but it may not be as bad as often portrayed.

"Our constitution works. Our great republic is a government of laws, not of men" Gerald R. Ford

Read other articles by Shannon Bohrer