"No experiment can be more interesting than that we are now trying, and which we trust will end in establishing the fact, that man may be governed by reason and truth. Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues to truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is the freedom of the press. It is, therefore, the first shut up by those who fear the investigation of their actions." --Thomas Jefferson to John Tyler, 1804.

What kind of intrusion

Barrett Rainey
Second Thoughts

Whether we have too much government or not enough, do you know how many of such entities we really do have in this country? I didn’t until going through the most recent U.S. Census Bureau report this week. Right now – today – the count is 89,004 local governing bodies! 89,004!

But take heart, my government-loathing friends. That is DOWN from 89,476 in 2007 – the last year the census folks counted. We’re goin’ the right way!

It breaks out like this: 3031 counties – 19,522 municipalities – 16,363 townships – 37,203 special taxing districts and 12,884 independent school districts. Every five years, the feds count ‘em all and it’s the only uniform source of statistics for all the country. Knowing these numbers, the experts can do in-depth studies of trends and provide a universally accepted base for a complete, comprehensive and authoritative benchmark.

So how many of us work for all these “governments?” That would be about 16 million – also down about 1.4 percent since 2010. To relieve your angst about the “size of government,” included in that total are 8.9 million education professionals, about 950,000 in hospitals, 923,000 in law enforcement and 717,000 in corrections. Rest are your old garden variety bureaucrats, I guess. But of course we know, “government doesn’t create jobs.” Yeah.

Now, next time someone accosts you with some “government is too big and intrusive – get rid of a lot of it – damned bureaucrats – etc.” – you can counter with just how many there really are and who they are. Because that angry person likely won’t know.

A respected correspondent accosted me the other day with a claim that government – Democrats in particular as is his wont -was being intrusive in San Francisco by banning large soft drinks. Intruding in our lives as it were. Not sure I’d blame just Democrats, though. The former-Republican-now-Independent Party Mayor of New York City did the same thing with a politically-divided city council. Other communities – Democrat, Republican and some with no party affiliation at all – have, too.

No, the issue is not one political party or another when it comes to government’s reach into our lives. After all, each of those 89,004 governments was elected. So, in a “majority rules” society, most of the people governed – we/us – should be held responsible when something is decided politically. Whether we like the decision – whatever it is – or we don’t. The real issue is that, sometimes, the majority just does things that run contrary to our minority views. It goes both ways.

Here. Let me give you one that runs contrary – very contrary -to my view and which makes my blood boil with hatred for “intrusive government.” One that should’ve never been in the hands of anyone’s government in the first place: abortion.

Now I realize, for some, the subject may not rise to the level of their desire for an illegal 40-ounce Slurpee when we’re talking “government intrusion” in our lives. Different strokes for different folks and all that. But government’s intrusive reach into a doctor’s exam room when one of my daughters is discussing her personal health just doesn’t sit right. Nor does the Republican-sponsored political intrusion into my family’s personal lives. And, so far, the majority of those intruders wears an elephant hat.

What we’ve just seen in our national polling is a majority representative of inclusiveness kicking the butt of a minority party currently practicing exclusion. And, judging from comments by its leaders in days since, pretty-well determined to continue the lemming-like rush to becoming an even smaller minority.

This determined political lunacy is the guaranteed product of exclusion, over-reach and discrimination against people and conditions that are different. In my world, I can live with a smaller Slurpee. But I won’t live with the overreach and intrusion of any political hack trying to practice medicine or muzzle a physician. You want to talk “intrusion?” Get the hell out of my life!

The Republican Party platforms of recent years have all contained planks condemning homosexuals. All the bigwigs have dutifully signed on. With one prominent exception: Dick Cheney. Anyone ever pick up on that missing endorser? That’s what happens when you have a family member – in his case a daughter – who is one. And at least two of my Northwest Republican friends in Congress have likewise been missing from that list of endorsers for the terribly-labeled “pro life.” plank. Probably because they both had daughters who decided on abortions.

When these phony topics – which never should have been part of any political discussion – are hotly debated in the abstract – “too much government, intrusive government, anti-gay, anti-abortion” – they create smoke without fire while doing damage to our way of life. But, when they become personal – inside one’s family – there’s a sudden realization that these decisions by family members are nobody else’s damned business.

Were I living in San Francisco, I’d probably be a soft drink scofflaw. Until some monied idiot spent a million or two get some court to declare the ban “unconstitutional. That’s government-intrusive life in the big city.

On the other issues, there will never – never – be a political conclusion. And that’s because – like the illegally large Slurpee – it’s just nobody’s damned business. Government intrusion? For some it starts at the 7-11. For some of us, it’s closer to home. Deal with it.

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