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J.P.'s moment of common sense

July 31, 2011

[I’ve been co-hosting a weekly radio show for a few months and yesterday the show’s owner, Jay Davis, gave me some uninterrupted time... to see if it worked. This is what I said, and when I get the sound file you can listen to it by clicking on the microphone...]

Jay offered me a chance to expound unencumbered for a few minutes, and I decided to name the segment J.P.'s Moment of Common Sense.

Common Sense was the name of the pamphlet published by Thomas Paine during the Revolutionary War, which you probably know. What you might not know is that Common Sense became the best-selling book ever, with 500,000 copies sold to a population that totaled only two million people. To put that in perspective, an author today would have to sell 77 million books in the United States to have equivalent success – that's about 77 times the number of books anybody will manage to sell this year.

Thomas Paine's pamphlet was pro-independence, pro-democracy, inflammatory, and boldly in favor of revolution. Watching our elected representatives struggle this week with the issue of the federal debt limit, it seems to me that we need another Thomas Paine and another revolution, because something is clearly wrong with America.

We love to brag about our democracy, and boast about the world-renowned freedoms of our constitutional republic, and point to our superpower status, but it's time to face the facts, people: our government is a dysfunctional embarrassing mess. The system no longer works.

Now listen up: I'm not calling for physical, armed rebellion. This isn't 1776. We have other methods at our disposal, and different issues. This time the problem isn't a monarch telling us what to do from across the ocean. This time it's about our own misdirected values and misguided expectations for what government can do for us.

Our Founding Fathers knew some important things that we seem to have forgotten. They knew the provenance of all that matters and benefits man is from God, not from government, for one thing. This heavenward viewpoint fostered a sense of self-reliance rather than the sense of dependence that exists among people who look for government to meet their needs.

Early Americans considered government a necessary evil… with hard emphasis on the evil and lingering doubts about whether it's absolutely necessary.

Current events certainly argue that government is not the place to be placing our faith. Harry Reid and John Boehner and Barack Obama are arguing about whether to cut spending by one trillion dollars over the course of ten years, which is one hundred billion dollars per year, which happens to be less than ten percent of last year's deficit alone. That's the most they're trying to cut – that's the Republican plan. Reid and Obama would prefer to cut nothing at all!

These people are so incompetent and ineffective they're arguing about billions from a deficit measured in trillions. In other words, they can't even get the decimal point in the right place!

These people are so dysfunctional they haven't bothered to pass a budget in years – not since Obama became president, in fact. Early this year the president proposed a budget that was so absurd and so irresponsible and so fantastical in its profligacy that the United States Senate, composed mostly of his fellow Democrats, voted the stupid thing down 97-0. Our president hasn't made a concrete spending proposal since.

Now, half a year later, we get to watch the president lecturing Congress about adulthood.

We need a revolution, and I think the revolution needs to be in the way we think about government – what we expect from government. There are now more people collecting checks from the government that there are people paying taxes. That's insane. It can't work. Everybody needs to step back, take a deep breath, and cut the cord to Big Brother. We're grown-ass Americans, and we don't need the government for a damn thing. We need to remember that.

Instead of worrying about a government shutdown, let's start encouraging them to shut it down. Sometimes going cold turkey is the best way to fight an addiction. That's what happened up in Minnesota: they shut the government down for two weeks, and lo and behold nobody really cared. Nobody missed it. Minnesotans did just fine without those state bureaucrats in their offices, and that scared the government officials so much they got together and quickly figured a way out of their budget impasse. They had to get things running again, dontcha know? They didn't want people getting used to living without government, by golly! They might decide they liked it!

It all boils down to this simple bit of wisdom: government sucks. Thomas Paine might have said it more eloquently, but he would've said it.

Cut the cord, people. Rely on yourselves for a change. Stop lining up for the next government check, and begging the government to solve your problems, and whining about the failure of the government to make you happy. Stop treating the government like it's God!

It's the only way to start putting government back in its place.

That’s the view from the man on Broad View.

"Society is produced by our wants and government by our wickedness." – Thomas Paine

From Reno, Nevada, USA       

July 31, 2011 - I happened to hear you yesterday, driving in my car. I thought I was listening to that famous speech from Network. It was great! You had me cheering and yelling at my radio. I'm so sick of the free-loading bastards on permanent unemployment and the welfare moms and the homeless bums collecting benefits and the government bureaucrats with their out-of-line fringes and the illegals lined up at the hosipital ER and all the various whiners and crybabies... Me, I go to work every day and pay my own way. Guess that makes me a sucker. - Reglar Old Working Stiff, Carson City

July 31, 2011 - Well said, JP..well said!!!! - Still in Reno, Reno

July 31, 2011 - Just check out what this guy wrote and how it effects you. No more social security, for which you paid. The park system... gone. That is unless you would like to pay for a "walk in the park". Police protection, firemen,libraries, roads and bridges, all "pay as you go". etc, etc,... This is the America that JP would like you to live in. He "attitude" makes Ayn Rand seem like a socialist. For you and your buddies JP, that may be great. The rest of us certainly want significant changes to government, but complete castration, not for the majority of us! - Harry, Reno
J.P. replies: Interesting that you created a whole list of stuff that will NOT be affected by keeping the debt limit where it is. Social security, for instance, is a trust fund filled with U.S. debt obligations (IOUs, basically) - cashing them in and forcing Treasury to sell Notes to replace them DOES NOT INCREASE THE TOTAL AMOUNT OF DEBT ONE PENNY. Duh. Here's what happened: you made the mistake of believing what the president said. The man is a chronic liar. As for the rest of your list, police, firemen, libraries, etc., they're all local and state financed, and have nothing to do with the federal debt limit. There are national parks, true, like there are state, county, and city parks, but the land will be there whether the debt limit is raised or not. You wouldn't lose a thing during a government shut down except the dubious pleasure of having a park ranger hitting your wallet for entrance fees. Do you really think Yellowstone Park will disappear without federal bureaucrats watching over it?

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