As a mom of two young children, I see every moment as an opportunity to teach, train, and educate my children. Like all other parents I am looking for those moments to impart my values into their lives. So the other day my son asked who built houses. What? I didn’t follow the question. What did he mean? “I guess my question is does the government build us our houses, or who builds us our houses?” was his clarification. I almost jumped up and down with excitement and would have had we not been in the car when he inquired. Given my love for America’s founding values, the free market economy, and my complete disgust for big government and even greater loathing for entitlement programs, this was the best question a kid could have asked.
My initial response was actually a question: “Do you think the government should build us our houses?” He wasn’t sure how to respond exactly so I explained that private businesses and individuals with those skills build us houses and that we then buy said houses from those companies or individuals.
“Why? Why doesn’t the government build us houses?” He was shocked at my simple answer.
“We don’t want them to. We don’t want the government to do anything that we can do for ourselves. It’s not their job or their responsibility.” We then began to discuss a list of things that the government does for us as Americans but shouldn’t. We discussed a list of things that the government simply can’t do as well as the private sector. Here’s the list I gave him. I’m sure you could think of more.
Social welfare: It should never be the job of the government to care for the poor. This is the job of the people and more specifically the job of the Christian church. Instead the government forcibly takes our money through taxes to make sure that the poor have food, housing, money, etc. What would it be like if the church in America were to each adopt a struggling family? What if each church in America was to set up job training centers, feeding centers and shelters for the homeless? What if we had our tax money back and could provide, out of the generosity of our hearts, food and clothing to those who lack. The church has not done this on a mass scale thus the government took that job.
Orphans/Child Protective Service Sector: This Christmas season, I’ve been reading Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol to my children. We’ve spent time discussing the back ground for this classic. It is heartbreaking that the government run London workhouses, which were used to house the poor, were little more than dark, dank, disease infested slave quarters for the massive numbers of children that didn’t have families and were forced to work in the factories, the factories that paid the workhouses to send them children who would work for 12 to 15 hours a day with no pay. On the other hand, private citizens like Doctor Thomas John Barnardo were setting up orphanages to feed, clothe and educate these children. It is estimated that his homes helped almost 60,000 children during the course of his life. What would happen if the church and/or private citizens were to take over the job of caring for our neglected and/or abused children?
Healthcare: I don’t feel like I need to say much about this given everyone can plainly see that our government run healthcare is a complete disaster. If you are taking the time to read this article, I can almost guarantee that Obamacare has either caused you to lose your health insurance or to have a payment twice as high as before.
Caring for the Elderly and Retirement: Caring for the elderly should never have become a Medicare/Medicaid/Social Security mass entitlement program. It’s not the government’s job to care for my parents in their old age. It is my job. It’s not the government’s job to make sure that I save money for retirement. That is my job. Unfortunately, I don’t have near the resources and neither do my parents because the government sucked money from our paychecks our entire working careers so that they could care for us when we decided we didn’t want to work anymore.
Parks/Forestry: In parts of Africa, the private sector is taking charge of national preserves. And because private companies have a financial stake in these preserves, they work much harder to make sure that animal poaching is stopped and that the environment is well protected. These private companies have greater resources and greater interest in caring for these national preserves than the government ever had.
Prison System: A simple internet search on Chuck Colson will quickly show that if faith-based programs and prison facilities were used to rehabilitate prisoners that the recidivism rate in America would drop dramatically. At a minimum government run prisons should have strong partnerships with faith-based organizations who know how to transform the lives of convicted criminals.
Education: Last but not least, the government was never meant to provide conveyer belt, cookie cutter style education where one size fits all despite the unique make up of every person. The government is not responsible to educate my children. I am. I can choose to take charge of that education myself by designing structure specific to their needs, strengths, weaknesses and overall purpose in life; or I am free to delegate that responsibility to someone else. But in the end, it is not the public school system’s job to make sure my kids have the kind of education they need to succeed. The buck stops here.
I am sure there are many other areas that others will think of, but these are just a few areas where Americans have become dependent on an all-saving, all-knowing government; but it is the humble opinion of this writer that churches, businesses, and private citizens across America could do a much better job than the government in these areas if we would simply step up and do so. Then the government wouldn’t feel obliged to do so for us.
And in case you are wondering if my six year old understood the lesson I taught that day, let me just say this. He now asks questions like, “So what other things does the government do for us that we should be doing for ourselves?” AND… another American patriot is born!
Image: “Taxpayer March on Washington” by Patriot Room – Flickr as 080. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File: