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Ron Hart Columns: Here's a possible solution: Less government is more

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Here's a possible solution: Less government is more

October 25, 2007 - Panama City News Herald

By Ron Hart

"Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys. "

--P.J. O'Rourke

I promised to propose a solution for the competing desires of the liberal Vermont Republic and conservative League of the South to secede from each other. Here are my ideas for what we really can do to make this work.

Let's face it: We live in a 51 percent vs. 49 percent country. Each election is close, and we are split on how we want to run the everexpanding federal government. Even as European countries such as Great Britain and France become more conservative and pro-capitalist, we seem poised to elect Hillary and the socialist Democrats who want to expand the powers of Washington into health care and beyond. It will not work.

I held out hope in 1994 when the Republicans swept into a majority in Congress, and they did force a few good things, such as welfare reform and lower taxes. But as it turns out, over time they preferred power over principle, and they have been a bitter disappointment.

In short, the federal government provides us with one important service: national defense. Indeed, to let us know how important they are, the feds often use our military in wars of choice that never seem to turn out well. In fact, it is no longer "defense." Rather, it is an offense that they take pleasure in deploying our troops. While confiscating 38 percent of our income in taxes to do so, Congress also runs up trillions in deficits because it has no collective sense.

On the other hand, our state and local governments take only about 6 percent of our income and balance their budgets, because they have to. They then provide us with the real services that we actually use and count on: schools, roads, libraries, trash pick-up, parks, airports, police and fire protection. They tend to do so in a manner pleasing to local tastes and priorities. And if you do not like what they do, you can simply move to another state. The federal government seldom does anything that pleases locals, and is only about preservation of its powers. Realistically, one cannot move to another country if one does not like what the feds do - unless you are a movie star who threatens to do it if Bush is elected. Most don't follow through, which was a pity in the case of Barbra Streisand and Rosie O'Donnell.

My solution to the unworkable yet appealing idea of secession is to devolve more powers to the states and fewer to Washington. It is what our Founding Fathers intended. And if you read the Federalist Papers, you will realize that they never intended our central government in Washington to be this expansive and overbearing.

If you want an abortion, then move to a state that allows it. If you want to smoke weed, then go to California. If you think that we should pay for everything a lazy welfare person demands, then go to a state that gives them flat-screen TVs and, instead of government cheese, offers an assortment of French cheeses that are both delicious and presented in a pleasing manner.

The basic reason that we fought for our independence is to do what we damn well please as long as it does not harm others. Yet at every turn, the federal government seems to want to make us do as they think we should, even if it comes down to using windmills, driving a Toyota Prius, or now, being forced to join the Hillary Health Care Plan.

Interesting to me is that the Dems who complain loudest about the inept response to Katrina are the ones advocating government's takeover of health care.

Our free-spending federal government thinks it is doing things well, and is filled with enough hubris to believe that it should tell other countries what to do - it calls it foreign policy. The real answer is that less money and power need to be vested with them and more at the state level.

2011 Benjamin Franklin Award Winner!

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Columns by Ronald Hart. Ron grew up in Tennessee and began writing a column for his hometown paper in 2002. He attended The University of Memphis and the Institute for Political and Economic Systems at Georgetown University. Ron graduated Magna Cum Laude and was elected student government president. Upon getting his MBA, he went to work for Goldman Sachs. He was appointed to the Tennessee Board of Regents by then Governor Lamar Alexander and is now a private investor. He appears on CNN and has been quoted in numerous publications including the Wall Street Journal. His columns reflect a rare combination of Southern libertarian views and humor. They have been described as "Lewis Grizzard meets P.J. O'Rourke with a dash of Will Roger's horse sense". His columns are carried by 30 newspapers with a total weekly circulation of approximately 1 million readers.