Squaring the Culture




"...and I will make justice the plumb line, and righteousness the level;
then hail will sweep away the refuge of lies,
and the waters will overflow the secret place."
Isaiah 28:17

03/05/2010 (5:01 pm)

The Cutting and the Crying: Suck It Up

I picked up on two reports today from around the country that highlight citizen complaints in response to government cutbacks, another sign of what we should expect through the coming decade.

In the first, students at universities around the country are protesting the cutting of state funding for education, and apparently doing so in a disruptive fashion, blocking freeways and freeway on-ramps, slugging police officers, pulling fire alarms for no reason, and so forth.

The article reporting this, written by a half-dozen AP reporters, is a prime instance of leftist media bias, in that it carefully masks the political orientation of the protesters. It also avoids producing a hard count of the protesters, although one particular protest at UC Davis apparently produced about 300 people. The writers attempt to make this into a revolt by Everyman:

Students, teachers, parents and school employees rallied and marched Thursday at college campuses, public parks and government buildings in many U.S. cities in what was called the March 4 Day of Action to Defend Public Education.

Of course, this was a nationally-coordinated effort by hard leftists. Check the list of sponsors for the March 4th Strike and Day of Action in defense of public education in California; it reads like an exhaustive list of unions, union organizers, and hard-left action committees. We’re looking here at the classic strategy of neo-Marxists, using growing political instability as a springboard for fomenting revolution.

Imagine how the Tea Parties would have been reported if any of them had produced even a fraction of the deliberate, disruptive action this small protest produced.

The second instance is closer to grass roots. Citizens in Arizona are starting to complain about the state closing down highway rest stops as a cost-cutting measure. It apparently costs the state about $300,000 a year to keep a single rest stop clean and functional. The state closed 13 out of 18 rest stops; this is clearly only one of dozens of measures they’ll be taking to save money, as the Arizona Dept of Transportation is about $100 million in the red.

Frankly, I can appreciate the importance of a stop in the desert as well as the next man, but this highlights the sort of re-adjustment we’re all going to face in the coming years. The simple fact is that we have all gotten used to government activism in any number of public functions, a level of activism that government simply cannot sustain over the long haul. Even in a good economy, government cannot guarantee that your life will be easy, and will go bankrupt if it tries.

In 1997, my wife was incapacitated for about 6 months, and I had to take on the role of Mr. Mom. I had four kids aged from 6 to 16, and we had one television. I attempted to arbitrate the use of it so that each got to watch at least one show they really liked, but so they did not watch too much. That attempt failed, and they were all spending too much time in front of the tube; so one day, in a moment of lucid frustration, I unplugged the damned thing from right in front of the four of them, and carried it out to the curb.

The outcome was remarkable. The kids complained bitterly from the lack of TV for about a month. Then, suddenly, they all discovered reading and board games, and the complaints stopped. Suddenly, they were all using their brains during their leisure time. It was one of the best moves I ever made.

I bring it up because it illustrates what is going to happen as government recedes from our lives by necessity, as we start forcing government to live within its means. We’re not going to like losing what we have to lose. We’re going to feel the pain. We’re going to complain. And then, once we’ve gotten it out of our system, truckers will start carrying their own port-a-potties in the backs of their trucks, and we’ll learn to do without rest stops. Parents will start saving for college educations again instead of counting on the state to provide it for free. We’ll all begin doing for ourselves again.

So, expect to see two types of citizen unrest in the coming years: organized, opportunistic attempts to produce revolution, and sincere, well-intentioned griping about losing important services. Regarding the third type, citizens rebelling against an intrusive and overbearing government, let’s hope we don’t have to produce anything more disruptive than those actions we have already produced.

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