This past week, I had the opportunity to take the family Up North. For those of you not from Michigan, “Up North” means, anywhere north of the City of Flint. (At least, it’s what it means to me). We spent the night in two different hotels: One in Traverse City during the cities’ annual Cherry Festival and the other in Boyne Mountain so the kids could enjoy Avalanche Bay, the in-door water park that tested my ability to walk up towering flights of stairs and sail down numerous slides, only to do it again and again and again until I admitted I was forty-two-years-old and I’d never out-run my kids.
One guilty pleasure I have when taking in a night at a hotel is to check out cable television again. I dumped the cable monster four years ago. In April 2008, I climbed the roof of my home, raised an eight-foot pole and placed an antenna on top of it. Today, I get all the basic television stations local to the Detroit area. And it’s not bad. There’s a pretty good selection and, like my love for the GNU/Linux operating system, it costs me nothing. That was the choice my wife and I made for our family. We didn’t want to be sucked into programming we wouldn’t watch otherwise and, most importantly, chose it so our kids wouldn’t either. Sure I went through History and Discovery Channel withdrawals but after viewing what’s been showing on those channels lately, I can say I’m not missing much. (Really, how is Ice Road Truckers and Ax Men History?)
So when I get the chance to stay at a hotel, I feel the old habit come back and when there’s nothing else to do in the late evening hours, it’s time to surf.
What’s saddest is watching the 24/7 news networks. This is hardly news. There’s no investigative journalism. It’s all talking heads arguing and yelling over each other to make their points. There’s no true debate or discussion where each participant is willing to change their minds. And it’s almost entirely about politics or the latest disaster or celebrity crime. But I digress…
Almost entirely about politics. That’s what I saw evening after evening on FOX, CNN and MSNBC. Maybe it’s because this is an election year. But still, that’s what I saw. And what I saw, was not how government is going to get out of my life so I can live it the way I want to live it, but how is one candidate going to solve my problems better than their opponent. The talking heads were arguing that it was either Barack Obama or Mitt Romney who had a plan to solve America’s problems. Whether it was health care or the economy or whether Michael Bay should be allowed to direct movies, it was always about someone else choosing what was right for everyone else. (Okay, I made up the Michael Bay thing but someone has to stop that guy).
I wished once, just once, I heard someone say that they would like a candidate who’s strategy for solving the economy was to get the government as far out of it as possible. Just once, I wanted to see a talking head say that neither a Democrat or Republican plan was the best for health care but that the best step was to get government completely out of health care. But I didn’t. I saw someone say Obama’s plan was better than Romney’s plan or vice versa. Talking heads yammered on about how, essentially, one candidate or the other would wear the super, red cape. Where was the guy who said government doesn’t work and we should elect a candidate that isn’t trying to solve problems through government solutions? There was none.
Regardless of who does win a presidential or congressional or local election, the installed program never works as advertised. It’s because government solutions are always a one-size-fits-none. So why do the talking heads continue to debate whether one candidate’s plan will work over the other? I have no idea. Maybe it makes for good television. But I do know that the public at large continues to complain that their elected officials are not doing enough to solve problems. So the public thinks government solutions are out there, just not being implemented. Maybe the talking heads are catering to the uninformed public for ratings?
Both the talking heads and public keep complaining regardless of who’s in office. They complain that the sewer system is poorly developed or the government school system is disorganized. Or maybe they’re upset over the rise in pollution. Then, after the politicians make bold promises to clean things up, the circle completes when people can’t figure out why nothing gets done. The problem is that people are relying on government to solve their problems. What they don’t realize is that when it comes to most things, government doesn’t work.
Government’s only purpose is to protect the rights and property of the people. Government is an inefficient entity to deal with anything else. It can’t run quality schools, it can’t manage health care, it hampers when it gets involved in the economy and it is useless when it tries to promote morality and values. (Why is it the most conservative family congressmen get caught with male prostitutes?) If you were to look at the private sector along side government, you would see that the private sector does much better. Private schools don’t have the problems government schools do. UPS and Federal Express are much better at delivering your packages than the United States Postal Service. Private insurance companies perform better than government insurance programs. Would you buy a private retirement plan from a company that ran like Social Security? I doubt it.
I say to the talking heads and public at large, give it up. Stop looking to the politicians for a better life and start looking to the free market for answers. Getting government out of what is best conducted by private individuals would increase productivity and lower costs. It would encourage more businesses to open up to cater to the needs of the community and charities could take over where the failed government welfare system once was. People continue to tolerate government’s failures because of the continued misperception that there is a government solution. The fact of the matter is, privatizing much of what government does is the solution. Please remember that there is no such thing as a utopia and your life will never be a bowl of Traverse City cherries, but with government out of the way, you will find improvement in your life and you will find yourself with more choices, more than cable television news networks will ever allow you.