Saturday, August 28, 2010

Lee Hamilton's Love Affair With Government

COLUMN NOTES: As I thought, this one led to strong reactions both pro and con. Something to be expected for a career politician I suppose.

HARBESON: You don’t have to love government compromise

> SOUTHERN INDIANA — Lee Hamilton loves government. Of course, being a politician for more than three decades how could he not?

Hamilton started his love affair with government when he was first elected as a representative to the United States Congress in the mid 1960s. During this time, there were some folks who were becoming less enamored with government. They saw through the caked makeup and feared that it was becoming too powerful and taking too much control.

But Hamilton was part of a larger group that was much too infatuated to see any problem with massive government expansion. As a result, Hamilton participated in a government love-in that instituted major changes, leading to huge increases in government spending and control.

Hamilton and this group were soon the proud parents of a government love child, Medicare. He and his fellow government groupies also started spending lots of federal money on elementary and secondary education and he was there when HUD, the department of Housing and Urban Development was born. And this was only the beginning of a long, long relationship with his beloved government.

Since retiring, Hamilton has continued this love affair and is now working to make sure everyone else loves government too. This is very important for a career politician such as Hamilton because his legacy depends on it. So he set up a center, which has been partially funded by the government, to help us understand how beautiful government really is.

Oh, he’ll admit there can be problems, but in the end, he thinks government works very well. He apparently believes some of us just can’t appreciate the beauty he sees because we haven’t been as intimate as he has, having spent 34 years with government. So he wants to educate us.

One repeating theme I’ve noticed as he works to educate the public on the subject of Congress is the importance of compromise. He’s very happy when the parties work together. He’s one of those bipartisan lovers.

But is compromise really such a good thing? Oh sure, compromise is great in various voluntary associations, such as a marriage or a business partnership, because the compromises are made individual to individual. However, in the realm of government, compromise amounts to politicians making deals with other politicians who then use government force against citizens to make their deals happen. And somehow, even with compromises, government still grows.

All we have to do to see evidence of this is to analyze the three categories already previously mentioned — health care, education and housing — and what happened with them after government became involved. We can easily observe the unfortunate consequences that developed over time in these federal government programs. No one can deny the immense growth and dependence we now have on government in these areas and many others.

Now Hamilton wants to play the congressional expert and defend the art of political compromise. He wants to educate us on the intricacies of how government works. He doesn’t talk about the part he played in creating and maintaining many problematic government programs, probably because that would cause many to question the wisdom of compromising, the very thing he’s been out there promoting.

Hamilton would rather dismantle ideas like holding on to principle and act like he’s somehow above it all because he was willing to compromise. But if what we have now is a result of compromise, then it’s time we stopped paying any attention to people who were part of the problem.

And we definitely need to stop regarding career politicians as some sort of experts we need to rely on when we are looking for the truth about how well government really works.

— Sellersburg resident Debbie Harbeson would never participate in a government love-in because she loves freedom too much.

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