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Who is going to save us?

by Luke Malek
| June 27, 2010 9:00 PM

A headline on multiple Internet sources the other day informed the world of a U.S. Senate vote in regard to unemployment benefits. The headline described how funds had not been reauthorized for those without work, and was sure to strike fear into many who are victims of the poor state of the economy. In all, it is estimated that nearly 4,000 Idahoans would lose benefits, not including dependents of those on the program.

This problem epitomizes the battle for the soul of America that wages in today’s politics. On one hand, there are those that contend our government has a responsibility to those in need, and that responsibility is a proactive approach. On the other, there are those that contend that to help people, you have to empower them to help themselves. Imagine a politician with such a choice, asking herself: “Do I vote to help people who need help now, or do I vote to give people the tools to help themselves, knowing that their pain in the short term will be a result of my decision?” It is the classic dichotomy between charity and justice: give a man a fish, and he will eat for a day. Teach him to fish and he will eat for a generation.

The government’s job is not to be charitable, it is meant to be a tool for justice; to provide stability for the generations that follow, not to prioritize convenience. To fund a program that provides some relief to some Americans at the cost of further mortgaging the future and autonomy of this nation is irresponsible. Nowhere in the Constitution does it say that it is our right to enjoy prosperous times without tasting the sweat, tears and blood that made the prosperity possible.

The realities that we face in the wake of our past poor decisions as a nation are not trivial. The plight of the unemployed, uninsured and underpaid are not slight. Yet they must be viewed in context. The truth is that our problems now will likely pale in comparison to what further near-sighted decision making will bring our future. Reliance on government is like lie: What starts as something small and inconsequential soon can’t be stopped and balloons until an eventual collapse. It can’t be sustained. What this nation is experiencing now is a collapse. But the cure is not more lies about what the government can accomplish. The cure is to face the truth, as much as it may hurt. Before we ask the government to help us, we have to ask who created the problem in the first place. And the fact is that reliance on government has created many of our problems.

The road to hell is paved with the best of intentions. At some point in time, we have to commandeer the keys to the paver from the government, and crush the rock for the road to our future by hand. The only way to maintain the freedom that makes this country unique is to put in the kind of sweat and hard work that the founders and leaders have put in generations before.

I’ve used this column to say it before, and I undoubtedly will say it again: believe in the power of your own involvement over the power of your politicians. Do not forfeit your voice for convenience. Take the time to help a neighbor in need; don’t wait for the government to do your job. Such a compromise only serves to diminish individual rights in exchange for massive inefficiency.

Who is going to save us? We have to save ourselves.

Luke Malek is a home-grown Kootenai County boy currently in a voluntary exile in pursuit of a law degree that he hopes will empower him to battle objectionable compliance with the status quo.

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