It’s past time for miscreants to change ways
by Melvyn L Fein
August 18, 2014 04:00 AM | 1646 views | 5 5 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Barack Obama promised us hope and change. He certainly gave us change. Under his administration, we have had more debt, more dishonesty, more regulations, less competence, less transparency and less bipartisanship than at any time in living memory.

Obama told us he would clean up the mess in Washington, but he has presided over more corruption than Richard Nixon or Warren Harding. The arrogance of the IRS, the VA and the ObamaCare managers has been exceeded only by the president’s egotism.

What we need now is genuine hope. There is a mess in Washington and it does have to be cleaned up. A nest of bumbling bureaucrats answerable to no one, but on the same wavelength as our imperial chief executive, has decided that they know best how to run our lives.

Yet real hope cannot come from the government. It is the epicenter of the problem. Worse still, those who control it are using its power to entrench their immoral hegemony. When private enterprises go astray, the marketplace disciplines them. Pricey and/or shoddy merchandise is undersold and out-competed. Customers go elsewhere until the bungling company is driven out of business.

With the government, however, there is no recourse save the ballot box. The problem is that when demagogues take over the government, they also acquire the tools to fool voters into thinking they are being helped. If nothing else, they bribe them into complacency.

The only way out is a reform movement. When things get sufficiently bad, the public must coalesce under the banner of good government. The object must not be to eliminate the government, but to restructure it. That which is not working must be excised so that it can be replaced by something better.

During the history of the United States, we have witnessed many such crusades. At one point, the spoils system put in place by Andrew Jackson was dismantled by creating the civil service. At another, women were given the vote they had been denied for centuries.

Even progressivism, the tattered streamer around which liberals rally, began as an effort to gain control over rapacious businessmen. Robber Barons, such as John D. Rockefeller, had their wings clipped once it became apparent they possessed the power to defy the best interests of the American people.

Now it is the government that is defying the best interests of the American people. It has grown so haughty that it intrudes its overbearing nose into everyone’s business. Today, it enforces imbecilic regulations for everything — including the mud puddles on family farms.

Self-appointed busybodies, such as Lois Lerner, are convinced they understand what is in our interest based solely upon their own biases. Not knowledge, but personal prejudices motivate their sallies into areas where they don’t belong.

During the 19th century, Lord Acton warned power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. He could not have been more correct. We saw this in Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union and now on the banks of the Potomac.

It is long past time for Americans, who want to save their country from condescending politicians, to demand that the miscreants mend their ways. Conservatives have sought to do this by defending the Constitution and fighting for liberty. Sadly, many voters interpret this as trying to revive the past.

Fighting for reform, however, is forward looking. It does not seek to replace autocratic government with anarchy. The goal is not to undo what works, but to improve what can be improved.

Reform must be intelligent. It should consolidate what needs to be consolidated, prune what needs to be pruned and uproot what needs to be deracinated. But it should also introduce programs that enhance our collective well-being.

To this end, it should encourage personal responsibility and interpersonal cooperation. It should also seek to make America strong again. Our best days are not behind us — unless we allow them to be!

Melvyn L. Fein Ph.D. is professor of sociology at Kennesaw State University.
Comments
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All to Blame
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August 19, 2014
Mr. Fein, from reading your column one would think the Republican party has done no wrong, especially since you favor the Republican party anyway. It was the Pres. Bush and Dick Chaney administration that involved the U.S. in Iraq on false reasons. Before the U.S. invaded, Hussein had kept the 3 warring factions in Iraq from all out war, something they have been doing for Centuries. And OUR involvement in Iraq has had huge implications over the whole region. AND this "war" has had huge implications for the U.S. people and our whole economy.

Don't blame the current president for the VA mess. This situation started long before Obama became president. The VA fiasco was really accelerated by the Iraqi war that Pres. Bush began. Blame here goes to every President and Congressional member since the Viet Nam War.

Now to the Lois Lerner and the IRS. The IRS has been gaining control since it was formed. It is the government form of the mafia. I don't by any means excuse Lerner, if she is found guilty. What she is accused of doing to some groups applying for tax exempt status has been being done to individual taxpayers for years. U.S. citizens fear instead of respect the IRS and that is not right.

Now to the ACA. Health insurance reform has been talked about by several presidents before Obama. Pres. Richard Nixon sent a healthcare reform bill to Congress in Feb. 1974; Dwight Eisenhower called for reform in a letter to Congress on in a letter to Congress on Jan. 28, 1992; Bill Clinton certainly proposed changes; George W. Bush proposed changes and was able to add prescription medications to Medicare. ALL these presidents saw the need for reform in varying degrees.

The ACA is not perfect and therefore can be improved. The Republican's constant solution to the problems with health insurance and healthcare costs and to the number of uninsured Americans was tort reform and health savings accounts. Tort reform does no good if you are uninsured in the beginning. Before doing away with the preexisting conditions exemption, many, many self-employed could not get health insurance, so the health savings account to pay for premiums or healthcare was useless. Health savings accounts only benefit those in perfect health and the wealthy. Who can save up enough money in a healthcare savings account to pay for 3 days in the hospital except the wealthy?

Had I waited for the Republicans in Congress to do anything helpful about the health insurance and healthcare mess, I would still be waiting.

ALL of the messes and problems you list have been done by every party. Some suggestions for reform in our government are to clean everyone out, have line item veto, have every bill stand on its own, change how campaigns are financed, change our lobbying rules, demand that our Congress handle MORE than one task at a time (investigating baseball is not a priority), and term limits just to name a few.

anonymous
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August 20, 2014
Hussein kept peace by slaughtering opponents. And if you beleive he did not have any WMDs, how did he kill all those people we saw pictures of? Obama has been around for 6 years but but you , and so many others, try to skip that aspect and just keep blaming Bush. Obama had control of both houses for two years and failed to make the changes he promised to make and now blames others. Sad that a leader drops to pointing fingers at others instead of acccepting responsibility and doing something.

Maybe the VA situation came to the top due to the number of veterans, but our leaders on both sides should have reacted and put more resources in that area. Yes, that means Obama dropped the ball as well. if his people did not keep him updated, then that is his fault.

I agree both parties have idiots in charge and that will never change until there are major changes in all three houses.
wonderin
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August 21, 2014
@anonymous The late columnist/C Molly Ivins said that the Iraq War would be short but after that would come the peace from hell. She was right, when Bush/Cheney invaded Iraq for their oil and defense buddies they did not understand the disaster they were unleashing on the world and the Middle East. The people in those pictures you saw were killed by chemical and biological weapons given to him 19 years ago by President Ronald Reagan through his envoy Donald Rumsfield. No President runs this country alone with a congress dedicated to his destruction. Two years is hardly enough to solve the enormous problems the Bush Administration left behind, two wars and an economic disaster with huge job losses to name a few. There are three branches of government, legislative, judicial and executive. The legislative has two houses the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Barry O
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August 18, 2014
Mel, thanks for your donation to the Obama memorial library. With your help we will be able to buy a bookself to hold all of his papers and accomplishments. We appreciate your support and look forward to seeing you at the next Hillary 2016 rally.
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