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Why Do We Put Our Lives In The Hands Of Those Whose Failures Are Manifest?

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 be redeployed.

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.

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