Dan Popp
January 22, 2013
The government vs. solutions
By Dan Popp

...nor have we succumbed to the fiction that all society's ills can be cured through government alone. – President Barack Obama, 2nd Inaugural Address

When restating your opponent's position, words like "all" and "alone" are tipoffs that you're creating a straw man. And a straw man is a powerful indication that you can't effectively counter his actual position. The President and his supporters have certainly succumbed to many fictions, and two of them are obvious from the statement above: (1) that the government can solve some of society's ills as long as it is not (2) alone.

This is delusional. Recently I heard another delusional community organizer, Tavis Smiley, say that President Obama should make a major policy announcement on "solutions to poverty."

Not to pile on examples, but there are some who believe that the federal government can and should provide "solutions" to the problem of mass shootings.

If by a "solution" we mean a final end to specific kinds of human suffering and wrongdoing, then none of this, of course, is possible. We can chuckle at the inmate who firmly believes he's Napoleon – as long as he's in the nuthouse. If he holds the reins of power, it's no laughing matter. LBJ raved, "Our aim is not only to relieve the symptoms of poverty, but to cure it, and, above all, to prevent it." Herbert Hoover babbled, "We have not yet reached the goal but... we shall soon, with the help of God, be in sight of the day when poverty shall be banished from this nation." These lunatics contradicted the clear-eyed Christ who said, "For you always have the poor with you." Hallucinations of Great Societies and New Deals and Free Lunches have proved catastrophic to the poor, and to the world. Ronald Reagan famously said, "Governments tend not to solve problems, only to rearrange them." But he was being too charitable. If the worst that legalized coercion could do was to rearrange problems, we would all smile when Congress came out with a new edict and say, "Well, bless their hearts. They think they're helping people again."

When government tries to solve problems, it creates new and worse ones.

It's very easy to show that government is incapable of solving problems. What is government's function? It's to "keep the peace," isn't it? The civil authorities are instruments of God's wrath, as we learn from Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2, to punish the wicked and thus protect the righteous. We must focus on this fact: Government exists to curb human evil. If it could end human evil, it would be God – and government is not God, despite what you may have heard. The very existence of government testifies to the fact that the problem of human evil remains. It is not "solved." If government could solve the only problem it was meant to address, it would cease to exist; it would be obsolete.

Now, if government can't solve the one problem it was designed to deal with, it stands to reason that it will never solve problems it was not meant to address – such as the ills of poverty or educational decline or unsatisfactory rates of home ownership. And the more "solutions" government tries to impose, the more problems it creates with its ham-fisted incompetence.

As those in creative fields know, problem-solving starts with creative thinking. But government has no capacity for innovation. It has only one tool: force. It can jail you, it can kill you, or it can tax you. That's it. If it subsidizes you, that's just a tax on everyone else. All the innovations will have to come from elsewhere. We'd be fools to expect "outside the box" thinking from the box manufacturing monopoly.

No, Mr. Obama, Mr. Smiley, Ms. Liberal: there is no such thing as a government "solution," alone or with others. There is only attention to its real job or neglect of its duty in pursuit of your fantasy. When government steps outside its proper sphere of protecting people and property, it creates huge, deadly, disastrous problems.

The fact that you don't know that makes you unfit to govern.

© Dan Popp

 

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Dan Popp

Dan Popp is a Christian, a husband, and a small-business owner. Writing has been part of his profession since the late 1970ís. He and his wife of more than 30 years, Vicky, live in Ohio.

On Twitter: @FoundationsRad

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