Retirement and Social Security Reform
Do We Put Our Lives In The Hands Of Those Whose Failures Are
Investor's Business Daily
January 5, 2010
By Ernest S. Christian and Gary A. Robbins
No matter who he is, the president of the United
States has far too many powers over our lives and livelihoods.
So do members of Congress.
Even if the holders of these public offices were capable of
correctly performing such a vast multiplicity of complex tasks,
which they aren't, and even if their intentions were always
honorable, which they often aren't, it is absurd that a handful
of exceedingly ordinary, highly fallible people should be
telling 300 million Americans what to do, say and think -
and even more ridiculous that we let them.
Are they smarter than we are? Are they morally superior? Are
they better able to run our affairs than we are? Are their
intentions toward us better than our own? Do they make us
better or better off? Of course not. Just the opposite. Their
record of failure is manifest.
Why should we pay them exorbitant salaries to ruin the economy
and abridge our liberties? The current incumbents should be
fired. Their jobs should be downgraded in power and scope.
The staff of nearly 3 million civilian bureaucrats should
Those of us who add value to the national balance sheet should
not be ruled over by those who don't. We should not have to
stand in line and ask permission to enjoy the inalienable
rights given us by our Creator.
Civil governance in America is not supposed to be intrusive,
much less oppressive. Left alone, all we really need is for
government to perform a few simple jobs under our close supervision
and on a strict budget. Yet we are painfully bound from head
to foot in reams of expensive federal red tape that our captors
in Washington pull ever tighter.
With tens of millions of federal interventions occurring every
minute, the machinery of government is so vast and complex
that it can no longer be operated safely - especially not
by politicians inured to the daily process of destroying lives,
jobs and wealth.
The politicians we put in charge of our lives and livelihoods
are by no means the best and brightest people among us. Typically
they are meddlesome by nature and given to high-risk experimentations,
using us like guinea pigs. Most are inveterate spendthrifts.
America's presidents and members of Congress are selected
by election - but elections are not divine rites that make
the unqualified qualified or convert ordinary individuals
into paragons of virtue and superior intellect.
No matter how many votes a president gets, he is still the
same man, no better after the inauguration than before.
President Obama is a reasonably capable young man with a good
education who is especially skilled in the art of motivational
public speaking. But he is not the man of transcendent wisdom
and omniscience that he pretended to be during the election
- and that people hoped for.
There are scads of people who could do his job better. Their
intentions would also be more in line with the values and
traditions that built and still sustain America. But, as he
and his votaries are quick to point out, he got the most votes
and has the football.
The theatrical nature of modern elections tends to produce
inferior presidents and members of Congress who are better
at creating an impression than doing a job. The few superior
specimens who slip through are pressured by the weight of
low group standards to conform - and most ultimately do.
Even if we always elected the most talented people among us,
they could not understand or effectively manage the gigantic
federal empire, with its millions of contrary influences for
good and ill that manipulate our lives and livelihoods. The
job is impossible. It's too large. It is also totally unnecessary
that it be so large.
The federal government was built by politicians - and it is
by politics that it can be reduced in size and power to a
level that can be effectively and safely managed by ordinary
human beings with good sense.
Prove it to yourself. Go to the polls in 2010 and vote out
every incumbent politician. Tell them why. And if the government
is not 30% smaller by 2012 and headed downward to 50%, vote
out everyone again.
You'll see how quickly government will shrink - and how much
better off we all are when Washington minds its manners and
keeps its hands to itself.
Christian, an attorney, was a deputy assistant secretary
of the Treasury in the Ford administration. Robbins, an economist,
served at the Treasury Department in the Reagan administration.