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Cutting a Conservative Gordian Knot

“Government is not the solution to our problem government IS the problem” ~ Ronald Reagan

Conservatives and some Republicans generally believe that free markets and the private sector do things far better, faster and more efficiently than government – USPS & FedEx vs USPS, Private Schools vs Government Education, Ford vs GM, Physicians vs ObamaCare, Parents vs the Department of Health and Human Services – except when it comes to the military, which is hailed as being the finest in the world, even if the Pentagon might not be the most cost-effective government money meat grinder.

The bottom line is that, absent interference from political arm-chair generals, the U.S. Armed Forces, from Washington to Grant to Patton to Schwarzkopf & Franks, have a pretty solid track record of getting the job done.

Well, if the government can get something so hugely complex as the military right, a liberal might say, why can’t it work for the economy or health care or nutrition or education? Typical right-wing, anti-government hypocrisy, no doubt.

A Gordian Knot, perhaps, but maybe one that can be sliced.

Karl von Clausewitz, Leonard Wood and Marine Drill Instructors all seem to agree that the primary purpose of a military is to “kill people and break things.”

One has to wonder if those are really the skill sets which should be brought to bear on the economy, the practice of medicine, education or family values.

The Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marines are only the government’s most powerful forces to coerce compliance with its wishes and will. Make no mistake, though, government for good or for ill is all about the application of force – restricting, constricting, often destructive force.

The force of government is good when it is directed at protecting our nation and the freedoms enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.

That force is bad when it is used to coerce citizens to live only that life, to enjoy only those liberties and to pursue only those happinesses that the government sees fit for them to live, to enjoy and to pursue – and be damn happy about it or else!

There is a very good reason the founders took great pains to erect a limited government for this nation and to establish a so-called “negative” Bill of Rights for citizens, and not “positive” rights for the government (sorry President Obama).

It can never hypocritical to be careful, prudent and discriminating in how, when and where government power is applied, especially when it is directed inward at citizens.

Besides, in practical terms, it rarely works out well: I’d much rather drive a Ford than a Trabant.

Categories: A Brave New Yo-Yo
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