Over time, government has become a cause of prejudice, discrimination, and antagonism in human relations! The base cause, of course, is the dark elements of human nature, but government has become a generating catalyst! We decry “racism”, yet our government actually incentivizes the evils defining racism! How? … Government agencies routinely endorse arrogant, pandering, programs and policies to favor politically-endorsed “sub-groups”, thereby causing resentments in anyone who believes others are slighted and don’t get their “fair” share. Funding levels are determined using increasingly subjective rules drifting farther from the foundational moral absolutes on which our Rule of Law depends.
These favored sub-groups are “boxes” into which government places various vulnerable, demeaned, and abused human beings. Lobbying for funds to address the needs of most of these groups is a normal part of the perennial budget process. There can be bitter competition between the sub-groups solidly endorsed by our society— not to mention the controversial ones. Generalized group identities are useful for the lobbying, justification, and tracking of public money.
We have normalized this grouping but it is time to re-think! Over 2/3 of our Alaska budget is spent maintaining these groups, most of them in, or in contract with, the Department of Education and Early Development (DEED) and the Department of Health and Social Services (HSS). This spending has become legal “entitlements” for people solidly in particular boxes. Another problem; many “boxed” Americans have come to believe government spending is the source of their security (as if government was capable of being “god”)! Lastly, under the guise of “tolerance”, the number and scope of group identities is increasing. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to realize prejudice, discrimination, antagonism, and abuse are to some degree similar to racist by-products of the resentments created in allocating funds based on infirm qualifications. Addicts, for example, have been legally re-defined within the last 20 years to have insurance benefit parity with non-self-induced disease! Then we have the emphasis of group identity of the two human genders… not to mention LGBTQ and related sexual choice identities. These identities are so politically “hot” they cannot be rationally evaluated in spite of evidence. All humans, no matter the cause of their identity and choices are worthy of love and care, but not necessarily by “government” that must maintain a standard of justice. This is why our constitution went so far to ensure a LIMITED role that does not mandate federal charity. We have many generations of special government provision for children, the family, seniors, abused, sick and poor, so the path back to decreasing government’s “nanny” role is a difficult challenge.
Government employees and contractors are most often noble-minded and genuinely care deeply about the identity group they serve. Most are merely conscientiously striving to fulfill their authorized job descriptions. The problem stems from bad laws more than bad public servants. We have endorsed “entitlements” (rights) far beyond the original rights expressed in the Declaration and Bill of Rights. Among the additions are the right to an income (minimum wage), guaranteed free education, free health care, quality housing, etc.…). A consequence includes entitlement expectations that may or may not be satisfied in the end – if our government cannot sustain them. Inherent rights (life, liberty, property) are ours in spite of the government we are born into. Our government uniquely identified them as ours because we are human… not because government created them.
Several weeks ago, I overheard one side of a loud cell-phone conversation that made me uncomfortable and makes my point. The call was outdoors, in public, with no detectable concern over who was listening. The caller was an attractive young Alaska Native woman who was clearly agitated because someone felt qualified for some unknown government handout, and she didn’t believe the other person qualified. It became obvious that race was the criteria of the identity group. She felt she was honorably qualified and the offending party was not. She adamantly and explicitly declared she was “entitled” to get the money because of her native blood and the money shouldn’t go to non-natives. Her meant-to-be-heard indignation caused me self-examination. Do I presume “entitlements” I feel are inherently mine because of my self-identity? I know I have some rights I am entitled to that are clearly described by our founders, such as the right to own and defend property (“pursuit of happiness”), the right to self-defense (life), the right to express my opinions (free speech)…Do I expect special treatment because I am a mostly healthy, white male with a mostly adequate retirement income – one I put in the work time for? Do I feel entitled to government largess for reasons beyond my being a human being? Some founders opposed passage of the Bill of Rights because they worried the list creation would miss something. I doubt they anticipated government would “play god” to create entitlements that are not inherent by definition. Government’s role is to ensure justice, not a base-standard of livelihood. Have you ever considered why Lady Justice wears a blindfold?
This was also submitted as an article to The People’s Paper.