Government Is Only Looking Out for Our Best Interests


I admit that my essays over the years have been rather critical of government. In fact, on occasion, they may have seemed a bit sarcastic and even downright cynical. Well, perhaps it's time I turned over a new leaf.

I have come to realize that, when you get right down to it, politicians really only have our best interests at heart. They remind us of that consistently. And it's a good thing, too, because so many people seem to forget'and no one has been guiltier of that than yours truly.

As a Minnesotan, I have seen firsthand just how caring government officials can be. Those elected to public office'and even those in positions of power who aren't elected'have demonstrated time and again that they know what's best for their fellow citizens. Take, for example, the numerous smoking bans that have been enacted in enlightened communities all across this great state. By preventing people from smoking in bars and restaurants, our gracious leaders have seen to it that we won't be dropping dead from lung cancer at 75 or 80 years of age. And this they did in the face of violent opposition from the property rights and freedom of association crowds. Yes, our politicians are a tenacious bunch.

They are also quick to react in times of crisis. Just a few months ago, following a harrowing roller coaster accident at Valleyfair, who was there calling for new government regulations? That's right: politicians. State Senator John Marty stepped up to the plate with a plan to introduce a bill that would give the state more control over the safety of amusement park rides. "Ours is a very poor system," Marty said. "We're one of the worst among the states. The parents who sent their kids out on that carnival ride assume the state is watching out for them." You see, people have a God-given right to be entertained, and if being entertained means sending our precious wee ones hurtling through the air on huge chunks of metal at extreme velocities, then only government oversight can ensure that they are completely safe. How many thousands of children need to die in our nation's amusement parks each year before we realize that only more government regulation can solve the problem? Just look at how highway fatalities have plummeted since mandatory seatbelt laws were passed.

Another way in which government cares for us is through its ability to pick up the slack where the free market fails. In order to maintain economic fairness, we have a law here in Minnesota that prohibits gas stations from selling fuel at a price lower than eight cents above the wholesale cost. Sure, that means higher prices for consumers, but it also means that smaller businesses won't be victimized by the predatory pricing of larger companies. Hey, whoever said free enterprise was free?

People don't always know what's best for them, and sometimes government needs to force things on the rest of us even when we think we don't want it. This is especially true when it comes to economic issues. The fact that the state legislature recently passed a bill allowing the use of public money to fund a new outdoor baseball stadium for the Minnesota Twins is proof that our politicians care about the local economy. And the fact that Hennepin County will impose a new sales tax to provide that funding shows that these courageous lawmakers know what it means to make sacrifices.

Of course, the benefits of having a benevolent, elite ruling class aren't limited to individual states. Our entire nation has prospered as a result. Just look at what our brave leaders in Washington have done in the way of national security. Why, if the feds hadn't taken over airline security and subjected elderly travelers to full-body searches, who knows how many planes might have been blown out of the sky with bombs constructed from hearing aid batteries and denture cream?

And let's not forget our illustrious commander in chief. If George W. Bush hadn't sent young teenaged boys and girls off to fight in Iraq , we'd all be speaking Iraqese or something and bowing to Mecca 27 times a day.

I could go on and on. The list of blessings bestowed upon us by government is virtually endless. I have no idea how our country has managed to survive for as long as it has, especially without the kind of tyran'I mean, compassionate coercion we enjoy today. Thankfully, there will never be a shortage of people who are able and willing to tell the rest of us how to live, how to think, and how much water our toilets can use when we flush.

Let the record show that people can and do change. No longer a sarcastic cynic, I now see that government is only looking out for our best interests.

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Lee R. Shelton IV has been commenting on politics from a libertarian perspective since the 2000 presidential election. Residing in suburban St. Paul, Minnesota, he currently covers local issues at