Drowning In Government

Posted on Wed 06/12/2013 by


20080318_mclaughlin_4_staffBy Tom McLaughlin ~20120815_lemonade_stand_LARGE

The underground economy operates smoothly because government isn’t involved. How many of you have hired the kid next door to mow your lawn? You need a baby sitter? That works the same way and we don’t need government to regulate it, right? Most of us have friends and relatives who work “under the table” and, increasingly, small businesses that remain “on the books” struggle to compete with them.

Government would control and tax the smallest transactions if it could, and it’s trying to. It’s regulating yard sales and lemonade stands in several places. It will regulate every penny we earn and spend if it doesn’t collapse first – and its collapse is inevitable if we stay on the path we’re on. feds tried last year to prohibit children from using power equipment on private land for compensation, so it could conceivably prohibit the kid next door from using your lawn mower. Government licenses day care centers in many places and would control all baby sitters if we let it. Government has been too big for too long and growth is accelerating.

The more government tries to micromanage, the more legitimate business shrinks and the underground economy grows. It’s estimated to account for $2 trillion per year in the United States and $10 trillion worldwide. Democrats in power continue to grow government, but it’s not just them: it grew more under George W. Bush’s administration than it did under President Clinton’s. President Obama, however, has made them both look like pikers. He’s taken over 20% of the economy and bragged that he’ll bring down the level of the oceans even if it means regulating emissions from your lawn mower. His carbon-regulating “Cap And Trade” bill didn’t make it through the Congress, but he’s issuing executive fiats to implement provisions of it anyway. Will he stop the ocean from rising? Of course not, but he’s wreaking havoc on our economy with his ever-increasing regulations. That’s what socialists do.

Big-government efforts to control water levels historically have been hugely expensive and disastrously ineffective. Consider the Mississippi River: The federal government has been building levees and dikes to control flooding for more than a century, but observers point out that those efforts are making things worse. A 2011 article by Richard Maybury called “The River Is Socialist” states:

I’ll never forget the first time I drove along the river’s banks. I had to look up at the passing ships because in some places, the bed of the river is so high, it’s above the surrounding land. It can be kept confined to its channel only by dikes. If the dikes were not there, the river would flow out across the surrounding land and destroy everything. Year after year, decade after decade, the bed of the river rises, and the government responds by raising the dikes. What causes the bed to rise? The dikes. . . . when a river is confined to its channel, it has no place to dump its silt except in the channel. This raises the bottom of the river, until the river overtops the dikes. Did the politicians admit that building dikes was a bonehead idea? Absolutely not. They said, these worsening floods are a huge problem, but give us more money and power… and we will build the dikes even higher. And so it has gone for more than a century. The dikes are raised, which lifts the bed of the river, causing more flooding, plus more demands for higher dikes. All the while, the cities on the floodplains grow larger.

Some geologists believe the great Mississippi floods of 1927 and 1993 wouldn’t have been nearly so bad had government not been “fixing” things. More and more development goes on behind the dikes because the feds subsidize flood insurance. No private insurer would write those policies because they’d lose money and no one would build on floodplain if the feds didn’t provide insurance. Private banks wouldn’t give mortgages either, and who pays for the dikes and the insurance? All American taxpayers, including those of us who live on high ground.

Now consider all the big-government “fixing” of the subprime mortgage market by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac over the past few decades. It has resulted in millions being underwater on their mortgages. Private banks would never lend to these sub-prime borrowers, but government insures their mortgages. It’s the root of our economic mess and President Obama is still at it – guaranteeing sub-prime mortgages – even those already under water, and printing money to do it. In the Mississippi floodplain, people have been underwater both literally and figuratively  because of “help” from government. As government continues to “fix” everything large and small, America drowns in debt.

We’d all be better off if government stopped helping us so much.

Contributing Editor   is a (now retired) history teacher and a regular weekly columnist for newspapers in Maine and New Hampshire. He writes about political and social issues, history, family, education and Radical Islam.

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