COMMENTARY: Silver Lining In A Dark Election Cloud
By Jim Waters, Bluegrass Institute
LEXINGTON, KY - Two placards hanging on fences surrounding the half-mile walking trail I frequent at a park near my home contain maxims that describe some of my post-election sentiments and offer optimism – even in the midst of some troublesome outcomes.
The first is author Thomas Harris’ gem: "Giving and sharing are spontaneous expressions of joy."
It’s a reminder that there is a fundamental difference between those with something to give who want to give it, and our federal masters using coercive government forces to redistribute resources, regardless of the income-earner’s will.
Big-government types attempt to sell us on the fact that such forced “sharing” is essential because “we’re all in this together” – rubbish that comprised the campaign message of the political Left.
Wouldn’t it be grand if such language used during this season’s power-struggles were required to come with warnings of Orwellian newspeak, just like those same lobbyists would force a skull and cross-bones on cigarette cartons?
On second thought, I'm not really into banning free speech – even this "shared responsibility" gibberish that is little more than the baby talk of Socialists.
Instead, informed and freedom-loving people must commit to enlightening their fellow citizens about the vast difference between forced “sharing” and "spontaneous expressions,” which are the defining characteristics of our nation's exceptionalism.
Individuals who create, produce and achieve – not “shared responsibility” – are the source of America’s greatness. Government did not create the light bulb, electricity, medicine or the automobile. Rather, it was the work of innovative individuals whose contributions benefited our entire society and the whole world.
When Sandy pounded the northeast recently, it wasn't a government agency that made a profound difference. It was neighbors helping neighbors – voluntarily. It was those who still had power welcoming neighbors into their homes to charge generators and cell phones.
When tornadoes pounded Kentucky this year, it was churches – not FEMA – that housed and fed two thousand responders daily.
It's not Department of Homeland Security bureaucrats that make me feel better about our nation's prospects in trying times. Rather, it’s individual Americans who require no executive order to demonstrate their selflessness or compassion – and who often succeed in spite of government’s obstacles.
Another placard near the end of Freeman Park’s walking trail attributes to Robert Schuller this gem: "Every obstacle is a potential opportunity."
Tuesday's election results present a significant obstacle for Kentucky.
How, for example, can we get control of our state's spending and debt when so many of the politicians who allowed the slide into the current economic abyss got re-elected?
No doubt, many of those results have to do with promising benefits for certain constituencies.
This happened in neighboring Indiana, where the Indianapolis Star reported that the reform-minded Tony Bennett lost his bid for a second term as Indiana schools’ superintendent to a teachers’ union-backed opponent promising her constituency to roll back many of his reforms, "including a reading test that third-graders must pass to advance to fourth grade."
Glenda Ritz, an unknown library science media specialist, beat one of the nation’s premier reformers by promising lower standards of accountability.
Ritz promised to turn back policies that base teachers' pay raises on annual evaluations and that increase school-choice opportunities – all of which put pressure on failing teachers and the schools they work for to either improve or be held accountable.
In Kentucky, Rep. Carl Rollins, D-Midway, the House Education Committee chairman, who is anti-choice when it comes to allowing educational options for children, was reelected by a handy margin.
Remember, though: these situations never remain static.
There will be opportunities to oppose the freedom-busting and bank-breaking decisions sure to flood upon us with all the force of Storm Sandy’s waves.
Recognizing those opportunities is important. Seizing them is critical.
Jim Waters is acting president of the Bluegrass Institute, Kentucky’s free-market think tank. Reach him at email@example.com. Read previously published columns at www.freedomkentucky.org/bluegrassbeacon.