An elected official at the federal level who is a friend recently mentioned to me that her constituent mail is not so much about issues, as it is about the hard time her constituents have with federal agencies. I followed that lead and talked to contacts at the state, county, and local levels of government in three states. Same deal. Much of government works for its own convenience, not for the benefit of Americans.
I heard reports of vital offices, like Social Security, being closed down because of COVID and elderly citizens told to handle their problems online. Many of them have little familiarity with the internet and thus give up on their issues. The post office, the VA, HHS, the DMV, and other fed and state offices either do not respond to questions or give clients the run around to the point of exasperation and defeat.
One person I talked to at the state level admitted it. “We set up the phone system so they eventually hang up. If they call back we send them back and forth to so many offices they get angry and hang up. It’s government ignoring people through attrition.”
How did it come to this? Well, first off it’s the drones. From the first prehistoric regime, petty bureaucrats have been a bane to mankind. We’re talking individuals with just enough power to work out their frustrations on the first available target, you. Certainly not all government workers are like this. Few in the uniformed services fit this bill and others do their jobs well. But there are enough who don’t and that makes for the bureaucratic dog’s breakfast much of the public encounters.
Another factor is the massive expansion of government during the Great Society and during the Nixon administration. Domestic economic redistribution programs and pie in the sky social programs under LBJ and OSHA, EPA, EEOC, and other regulatory agencies under Nixon, has the Feds ubiquitous in our lives. Not to mention the pernicious and wholly unnecessary Department of Education started under Carter. It’s part of a governmental hubris that thinks if this can be tweaked and that can be reformed we will reach social utopia or something approaching it. What utter bosh.
History and common sense tell us, as Thoreau did, “That government is best which governs least.” The best thing government can do, as my favorite president Cal Coolidge knew, is to get out of the way and let the free market drive innovation, profits, and social mobility. Yes, there are roles for government in acting as an impartial referee in some cases. But it doesn’t. It acts like a crazed referee who throws numerous flags to benefit the home team. Who is that home team? They are.