Death by a Thousand Cuts

Death by a Thousand Cuts

Most of us have heard the quote of Ronald Reagan that “A government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth.” Once we create a new commission, board, or regulatory authority, it is next to impossible to get rid of it. For the last several decades, politicians have promised to cut the size of government but the size of government continues to grow. The people desire their politicians to cut costs, increase efficiencies and balance the budget. Why is it that we elect people who tell us that they want to cut the size of government and then watch them do the exact opposite?

It is probably easier to answer this question with an illustration that I recently saw in a Federalist Society newsletter:

Once upon a time there was a man who had a dog – a dog that he just couldn’t seem to keep to himself. One day the dog would get into a neighbor’s garden; the next day it would attack a nearby farmer’s sheep; the day after that it would bite a child walking home from school.

Finally, the neighbors took the matter to the town council. So the council passed a law that anyone who failed to control his dog would be fined. The next time the man’s dog was caught, he denied that it was his. So the council enacted a law that everyone should register his dogs. Soon after, the first man’s dog was mistaken for a dog it resembled. So the council passed a law that every dog should have a license on its collar.

The council realized that the town would need a new employee to hand out the licenses. So the council charged a fee per license to pay the employee’s salary. The fees were so high that many people secretly avoided paying them. So the council lowered the fees and put a tax on haircuts to make up the difference. People started wearing their hair longer, and two barbers went out of business.

Meanwhile, it had occurred to some bright soul that if it was a good idea to license dogs, it might be a good idea to license dog owners as well … And so it goes.

People love their freedom. Just ask any teenager and they will tell you that they want their parents to give them more freedom and liberties. The problem is that we tend to legislate based upon good intentions. The problem is that we live in a society where people do what is in their own best interest. George Washington said that “Religion and morality are the essential pillars of a civil society.” We have a problem with people not living by the Golden Rule “Do unto others as you want them to do unto you.”

The problem with government regulations is that they hurt those who are ethical and law abiding. Those who are only going to live for themselves will just find ways to get around the rules. Big corporations can hire an army of attorneys and accountants to find ways around the regulations while the small business owners are strangled by the regulations. Almost every day I speak with someone who tells me a story of how oppressive the regulations are on running their business.

Personally, I believe it is time for politicians to start fulfilling their promises. It is time for politicians to start being more aggressive at cutting costs, increasing efficiencies, and of course we need to balance our budgets. It is time that we take our state back by electing a majority of fiscal conservatives who are willing to make the tough decisions that are necessary for long term prosperity.

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