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Government not your mother

By Rachel Alexander
Arizona Daily Wildcat
March 8, 1999
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Arizona Daily Wildcat

Rachel Alexander

Too many people today think nothing of turning to the government to create another program to resolve some issue that concerns them. We no longer find it important to consider where the money to fund the program will come from, whether the program will infringe upon somebody else's rights, or if the program will generate more benefits than harm. When someone finally objects to a government program for one of these reasons, he is criticized for being anti-helping people. The point of issue ends up centering on perceptions of the objector's motives rather than the merits of the program.

As a result of this superficial analysis, most people are too intimidated to question government programs. Even more distressing, people feel encouraged to propose even more government programs, because they know they will be seen as "helping."

Yet is this really "help?" The people who create these new government programs and run them are paid. They take money from the rest of us - whether we want them to or not - help themselves to a salary out of it, and distribute the rest of the money to the people they are "helping" in some way or another, often in ways that are morally or politically objectionable to a lot of us.

One crucial problem with this way of "helping" people is that it fails to take into consideration the millions of people who would rather "help" people on an individual basis, through churches, or other volunteer groups. Unfortunately, many people are already taxed so high to pay for other people's "helpful" programs that they must work harder and volunteer less. Now, what makes more sense, allowing people to keep their money so they can help others in ways they want to, or forcibly taking money from everyone to pay some people to help others?

What is peculiar is that the people who help others voluntarily - without being paid or forced to - get very little recognition from the media or the high-profile elite in society. Many churches and religiously-affiliated organizations help people with the very types of problems government programs attempt to resolve, yet their work does not receive half the attention government programs do. Hollywood stars would rather throw a benefit for the government-funded National Endowment of the Arts than for a ministry that reaches out to the poor.

Another problem with government programs is they inevitably trample on someone else's rights. Our government was not created to provide unlimited programs for people. Our country was founded on the libertarian principles of a small government that would exist to protect individuals' rights. We came to America to avoid the heavy taxation of England and other countries. So insisting on government programs that tax heavily and redistribute money, favoring one group over another, treads onto the dangerous ground of taking private property and treating people unequally under the law.

A third problem with government programs is they invariably do not produce the desired results. Since various state governments (not Arizona) started funding abortions, have the poverty rates gone down? Have our children's' test scores improved as a result of producing only "wanted" children? No.

Similarly, since schools started giving out "free" condoms, have the number of sexually-transmitted diseases among teenagers gone down? Have the numbers of pregnant teen-agers declined? No. They continue to rise. Unfortunately, most people are afraid to criticize these government programs, knowing they will be labeled as "anti-woman" or "anti-children."

If people had the guts to acknowledge that the emperor has no clothes, they would realize that the position favoring government-funded programs is actually the "anti" attitude. It guarantees that the inferior status of those benefiting from the programs will continue, as they become dependent on the programs.

Most recipients of government aid remain on government aid. Yet, instead of acknowledging that these programs are a failure, most are continued, with anyone who dares to suggest ending them denounced as selfish or anti-something.

Motivating this attitude that government programs will work is the utopian hope that mankind will evolve into perfection. This vision teaches that ultimately everyone will have the desire to excel and abstain from making unwise decisions. Therefore, with a little forced help from the government, somehow the people who lack motivation, or who are stuck in a poor situation because of their circumstances, or who are criminally-minded, will suddenly change once they receive that help.

This has not happened. Although technology has advanced during the past thousands of years, man still retains the evil aspects of his nature. There have been two world wars in this century, along with a holocaust and other ongoing ethnic battles. Man appears to have endearing character flaws that all the government programs in the world haven't changed. It is time to quit pretending that government programs are "helping," and acknowledge that they are failures and perhaps people are better off genuinely volunteering to help others. History proves that common people who genuinely volunteer with their time, heart and substance will have a much better opportunity to influence for good than an overworked government bureaucracy.