August 11, 2015
When I was a kid, I ‘accidentally’ lit my parent’s living room carpet on fire.
A friend of theirs had been over the night before and left his cigarette lighter on the coffee table.
And as I had never seen such magical technology before as instant fire at the push of a button, I started playing with it right away.
It only took a few minutes before I began burning the perforated edges of my dad’s dot matrix printer paper, all of which fell right out of my hands towards the carpet like how streaks of flaming meteorites fall to the earth from outer space.
Looking back it wasn’t really an accident.
The truth is that I was an idiot. I shouldn’t have been playing with fire (literally).
It certainly wasn’t the first, and would not be the last mistake that I ever made. We’re human. It happens. And we have to forgive ourselves when we screw up.
But when governments screw up, it tastes especially bitter.
This morning we all found out that the US Environmental Protection Agency caused a massive spill of more than 10 MILLION liters of toxic chemicals into the Animas River in Colorado.
At first the EPA admitted to about 3 million liters. But now another government agency with better data is saying, in fact, that it’s over 10 million liters.
The river flows into New Mexico and Arizona where it eventually joins Lake Powell, a major source of drinking water for Las Vegas, San Diego, and Los Angeles.
One can hardly call this an accident.
Just like when police ‘accidently’ shoot unarmed black men on a regular basis.
Or when the Defense Department ‘accidentally’ drone strikes a children’s hospital.
Or when the Treasury Department ‘accidentally’ fails to safeguard incredibly sensitive financial and personal information on over 100,000 taxpayers.
Or when Healthcare.gov ‘accidentally’ enrolled thousands of people into the government’s registry of sex offenders.
Or when the Census Bureau ‘accidentally’ funded a $2.6 million study on prostitutes in China.
The list goes on and on.
Hey look, we all make mistakes. But this is serial incompetence. It’s not about individuals screwing up their jobs, but rather an entire system designed to fail.
The Federal Reserve was founded 100 years ago to prevent banking panics, stabilize prices, and create stability in the financial system.
Yet ever since the Fed took over control the US economy, there has been an almost uninterrupted pattern of bubbles, busts, crises, and recessions.
The Department of Energy was created on August 4, 1977 to drastically reduce America’s reliance on foreign oil, which at the time was about 55% of US consumption.
Yet after four decades and tens of billions of dollars spent annually, the US still relies on foreign sources for about 55% of its total oil needs– all according to data at the very department that’s supposed to reduce it.
The US Department of Education has spent billions since 1979 trying to improve education in America.
Yet their own numbers show that reading scores have remained flat, and that nearly 2 out of 3 children in 8th grade still lack proficiency in both reading and math.
This is total insanity. Literally. My dictionary defines ‘insanity’ as extreme foolishness characterized by irrationality.
Of course my preferred definition of insanity is the old favorite about trying the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result.
This is how government works. Whenever there are problems created by government, they simply create more government.
We know deep down this system doesn’t work.
We know that government bureaucracy is a joke (generally the butt of many jokes, which are funny because they’re true…)
And yet we allow ourselves to be deluded every four years by election hype.
We allow ourselves to believe that the problems will go away, that THIS time will be different, if we just get the right person in office.
People thought the same thing back in 2008 with Barack Obama. And George W. Bush back in 2000.
The excitement for the 2016 election is already palpable. People are fed up. But they believe that one of these candidates has the secret key to fix everything in this giant ‘accident’ we call government.
Unfortunately this is delusional thinking. And yes, insanity.
I’m sure most of them are very nice people, and perhaps well-intended.
But the problem is the system itself: awarding the power to regulate nearly every aspect of our lives to a bankrupt, centralized authority which churns out over 80,000 pages per year of new rules and laws.
It’s time to stop investing in this process and start investing in yourself. Because these people aren’t going to fix anything.
When your government has to spend more money on mandatory entitlement programs and interest on the debt than it collects in tax revenue, you might as well elect a banana to be the President of the United States.
Nothing is going to happen by changing the players. You have to change the game.
And sometimes that means walking away from the table.