Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Obama's first speech as President

I listened to President Obama's inauguration speech this morning. It was a nice speech. It lasted no more than fifteen minutes. It had some great lines and some memorable quotes. The part I liked best was the part where he said that the American People are less concerned about the size of government than about a government that works. That statement encapsulates the ideology, if there is one, of the Democratic Party.

An old Republican mantra is "government is too big and spends too much money." Many conservatives are now spreading the word that George Bush disappointed them. They supported him, expecting that he would make government smaller. Of course, he didn't. He made it bigger, especially to fight his wars in Iraq and Afhanistan.

The idea that small government is desirable and smaller government is more desirable comes from a business man's frustration and anger at having government impose all sorts of rules on how he should run his business. Government supports the right of workers to form unions. Business men hate unions. Government inspects the business itself and imposes rules involving the safety of workers. Cutting machines must have guards to keep workers from cutting off their fingers. Workers who apply spray paint must wear special masks and breathing apparatus to protect them from getting paint in their lungs. Government imposes all sorts of restrictions on business. The business man supports a political party that promises to make government so small that it can't bother him.

It must be said that, even though Bush didn't make government smaller, he tried valiantly to weaken or remove restrictions on business operations.

Grover Norquist and other Conservative thinkers have elevated this business man's complaint about government regulation to a philosophical level. Government is apt to become tyrannical and must be kept as small and non-interfering as possible. One technique of achieving this end is to convince the public that government is inherently inefficient and unable to do anything well. Mr. Bush followed this technique in his staffing of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. FEMA was deliberately staffed with incompetent leadership. The result was the fiasco that followed the hurricaine that devastated New Orleans. The original business man who proposed small government also urged inefficient government.

I am very happy that Mr. Obama believes in efficient government, government that works for the people, without concern as to whether it is too big. Take that, Grover Norquist!

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