Statism: The Cause of America’s Political Problems

by | Jun 25, 1999

Last week, I attended a memorial service for a 19-year-old girl shot in what appears to be a random, gang-related attack. The world may watch and fret over Columbine, but what I just described happens far, far more often. As the Democrats and the Republicans debate “what should be done,” two answers emerge, both stupid. […]
Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

Last week, I attended a memorial service for a 19-year-old girl shot in what appears to be a random, gang-related attack. The world may watch and fret over Columbine, but what I just described happens far, far more often.

As the Democrats and the Republicans debate “what should be done,” two answers emerge, both stupid. The Democrats blame guns. The Republicans blame the Creator (or rather, the lack thereof).

The silly season is on.

Democrats huffed when Republicans thwarted their push for more stringent gun control. While the House passed a bill that would require background checks for all purchasers of guns at gun shows, they voted to limit the background waiting period to 24 hours. “Foul!” cried gun-control advocates. A seller cannot conduct a thorough check in 24 hours, they say, and the longer the background check, the calmer the purchaser. Never mind that John Lott, the author of “More Guns, Less Crime,” demonstrates the relative ineffectiveness of waiting periods and background checks. Bad guys find a way to get guns, leaving the rest of us inconvenienced.

Now, on the Republican side of the aisle, we have Romper Room II. The House passed a GOP-sponsored bill to allow states to post the Ten Commandments in public schools and public buildings. Sure, the Supreme Court will slam-dunk it as unconstitutional. But Republicans did something! You know, like Messrs. Klebold and Harris of Columbine High would have said, “Hey, look at this. Better put away those pipe bombs. Says here we’re not supposed to kill.”

See, Republicans think that for our kids, the Creator is AWOL. But 96 percent of Americans believe in the Creator , and 90 percent pray regularly. As a percentage more Americans today attend a house of worship than in the ’40s and ’50s.

Neither Republicans nor Democrats seem willing to even consider a third culprit — government. Americans must work longer than ever to pay state, local and federal taxes, as well as indirect taxes like mandates. This means that many Americans spend less time with their families simply to satisfy the government’s appetite. Polls show that most Americans still believe in a stay-at- home mom, if possible. But, to pay taxes, and to live in a safe area with decent schools, both spouses must often work outside the home. Had the tax rate remained at the 1950 level, the average American family would have hundreds of thousands of dollars more in net worth.

The government refuses to allow citizens to invest their own Social Security funds. Simply investing a portion of the funds in the stock market over the course of a working life could net the retiree hundreds of thousands of dollars more than the current system allows.

What about the money and benefits paid to unwed mothers simply because they are unwed mothers? This also allows men to abandon their financial and moral responsibilities, while encouraging girls and young ladies to be less discriminating about their partners. A Heritage Foundation study shows that families that refuse to go on welfare, although eligible, saw less illegitimacy, higher rates of high school graduation and fewer criminal records. Welfare generosity makes it easier for fathers to bug out on their children. A Los Angeles Times poll showed that poor people, more than non-poor people, believe that some welfare mothers have additional children in order to get additional benefits.

Government also stops willing employers from paying willing, prospective employees less than the state-mandated minimum wage. Minimum wage laws destroy entry-level jobs for unskilled workers.

And then there’s public housing and rent control. Rent-control laws create a disincentive to build apartments, reducing the supply of low-cost housing. Government public housing crowds hundreds of thousands of low- income Americans into “projects,” by subsidizing their housing. This discourages poor people from acquiring the skills necessary to earn their way, and it steals business from mom-and-pop real-estate investors. A criminal element plagues many public-housing complexes, creating a value system that discourages academics and emphasizes fast times and games.

And don’t forget the government monopoly on schools. Authorities refuse to let parents choose their kids’ schools, confining many inner-city kids to schools with low academic expectations and poor teachers and principals.

Government involvement in the medical industry makes health care more expensive and less available. Regulations preventing nurses, physicians assistants, midwives and others from competing in the health-care market drives costs up. Regulation discourages the construction of for-profit medical schools, decreasing the supply of doctors while keeping current doctors’ incomes up.

And so it goes. Congress passes more laws and regulations, which require more laws and regulations to undo the damage caused by the earlier batch of laws and regulations.

Meanwhile, the Chicago City Council holds hearings on Jerry Springer.

Pass the Advil, please.

This editorial is made available through Creator's Syndicate. Best-selling author, radio and TV talk show host, Larry Elder has a take-no-prisoners style, using such old-fashioned things as evidence and logic. His books include: The 10 Things You Can’t Say in America, Showdown: Confronting Bias, Lies and the Special Interests That Divide America, and What’s Race Got to Do with It? Why it’s Time to Stop the Stupidest Argument in America,.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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