‘I’ ON CULTURE
Nearly a century ago, writer Ring Lardner used the expression “‘Shut up,’ he explained” as a joke about a pushy guy. Today we have civil masters, who once were civil servants, in place to tell us we do not understand the world in front of us. Instead of quoting real authorities, too many people use the authority of position to avoid annoying questions, simply telling us to shut up.
And that kind of put-down comes on all levels. There are national leaders, for example, who dismiss complaints that veterans are not getting appropriate healthcare. “Ignore the long waits,” they have suggested. “After all, just about everyone working at the Veterans Administration is ranked excellent.” The ones who complained about cheating have all been fired, so there is less “noise.”
And it is not just Democrats who put down questions; they just control Washington at the moment. Try dealing with our Republican governor and his office. But there are plenty of snotty officeholders who all are convinced they are smarter than we are and do whatever they please. Both parties are guilty of treating most of us as if we were a tiny bit smarter than puppies.
On a local level, try dealing with a school board. A man in Nevada wanted to see his son’s school records. “Pay us $10,000,” he was told. “That’s how much it costs us to track down the records.” And that is after the father, a taxpayer, had contributed to a new computer system that would bring up all school records almost instantly. The actual cost was almost certainly less than a dollar (for the cost in ink and paper for printing out materials) but the school was far more concerned about preventing the parent from actually interfering with the staff at the school. And if there’s one thing school boards and unions agree on, it’s that parents should have no say on who is principal at any individual school. After all, parents might object if they discovered that the person had been a disaster at three previous schools. And the number of cases of what could reasonably be called child abuse by the school systems increases almost daily.
Of course, we all know that many of the people who work for those in authority can be very gracious. If you need assistance at most government offices, some people who work there often go out of their way to be helpful. But the great government bureaucracies have no souls. They no longer exist to serve us but to serve themselves. The compromise forged to fix the Department of Veterans Affairs will help those living a long distance from facilities; beyond that, things basically stay the same because the bureaucracy wants it that way.
Our problem is that we have forgotten our roots. At and around the Fourth of July, we should remember Thomas Jefferson’s admonition in the Declaration of Independence: “That to secure these rights [life, liberty, pursuit of happiness] Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed … [and] That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government.”
In other words, if the government is not preserving life and liberty, etc., then we, the people, have the right to overthrow it. Of course, as he also pointed out, it should be done only in the most extreme cases, and having our officials be annoying does not qualify, particularly since we can vote them out if they really work against our interests. But no one votes out the bureaucrats; they are there forever, no matter what party has been elected.
The people need to take control over government rather than simply accept government statements with no checking. We fought a revolution to take control away from uncaring politicians more than 200 years ago. And now too many seem to be willing to let it go. We need more information and from more sources. Any individual source may lie; only through looking at a large group with differing opinions can we make a clear decision.
Perhaps this Independence Day, we should all decide to be somewhat more independent and find out what really is going on.