Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Making government smaller

How do we make government smaller? Is it simply a matter of putting it on a diet or a budget? If we enforce laws that limit expenditures and growth, will that be enough?

I don't think so. I think we are getting exactly the government we deserve. Self-sufficiency and community have gone the way of the dodo bird. Instead of looking to friends, families and neighbors for a helping hand, we look to the State House or Washington instead.

And it's worse than that. Friends, families and neighbors frequently aren't there to help. How many of your neighbors do you know in a 2 block radius? There are ~60 families in our subdivision, and I know less than half of them. I know more people at my office than I do in my subdivision. As a society, we have crawled into holes and then pulled them in after us. We have rolled up our sidewalks, not just after 10:00 PM but all day long.

What happened to community block parties? What happened to gaggles of kids chasing each other throughout the neighborhood all day long? What happened to the days of getting home from school, dropping the backpack just inside the door and disappearing until mom called you in for dinner (and by called, I mean literally hollered from the front porch, not sent you an SMS)?

If we want to make government smaller, I think we have to make society bigger, and especially our churches. While government does overreach and inject itself where it's not needed, a lot of the intrusions start innocently, because there is a need to fill. Naturally, government thinks it can fill that need best. But what if the need was already being met, was not going unfulfilled? Then there is no impetus for government to act.

So, to make government smaller, we have to remove the need for government to act. How do we do that? We meet the needs of those around us, both physically and spiritually. Get involved in community outreach through your church. Donate food to the food bank and articles of clothing to the clothing closet. Volunteer in a soup kitchen. Get involved in clean-up teams.

And guess what? The size of the church doesn't determine how big it is. A 4,000 member megachurch that never steps outside its walls is a hovel. The 200 year old church with 50 faithful attenders that runs a soup kitchen is like a mansion. The size of the church doesn't matter as to its impact. And churches can partner together in ministry, even across denominational lines.

In short, we cannot in good conscience complain about the size and reach of the government when we ourselves are not doing everything we can to remove the need for their involvement. Hilary Clinton was right all those years ago. It does take a village. But it takes a village free of government intrusion and control.

To make the government smaller, we have to get up off our couches, get into our community, and get involved. Not because the government has told us to, but because it's what we should do as friends and neighbors, as members of a community. Because it's what God has called us to do.


  1. We NEED to get rid of a few non-performing departments to start with... Just sayin...

    1. Well, sure. There are some redundant departments that need to be eliminated completely. Not going to argue that in the least

      And yes, I'm looking at both DoEs (energy and education) as well as several others.

  2. One of the real difficulties is figuring out how to reach the people. I live in a town of 7,000 and am actively involved in the town's government, a church, and several of the town's supporting non-profits (cemeteries, land trusts, recreation, that type). I meet the same people over and over again. The core of volunteers running the town, and it is almost all volunteer even those serving as town commissioners, is perhaps 200 people. If I count things like the Boy Scouts and the football team I can probably boost it to 1,000. How does one reach the other 6,000? They enjoy living in the town, but they don't see the need to be involved in civic service.
    The US used to be and still is considered to be a nation of volunteers, but I think that mentality of community service is declining. To serve the public is considered neither necessary nor honorable (although if service is not honorable, what is?!), and to serve without pay? Unthinkable.
    I was saying to someone the other day, 'we need more Andrew Carnegies': tough minded capitalists with civic pride.