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Daily Archives: January 17, 2009

We all know at least one person who meddles in everybody else’s business… and we hate them. There are any number of reasons why we hate them but the most frequent answer to such a question as why is we are adults, not children, and can handle our own lives just fine without interference.

Movies over the years have been filled with such people as meddling mothers or mothers-in-law and their characters are the ones we love to hate. It’s inescapable… and visceral. They tell us that our house isn’t clean enough, we don’t take care of our children properly, and we’re selfish with a litany list of offenses to prove it. When you point out some of the things they have done that were worse or similar,they deliver the caveat: it’s for your own good.

So, to keep the peace, we try to do things the way we’re told and when it all falls apart because it was never the right thing in the first place, we’re told it must be our fault that we didn’t do it right, so they meddle some more to try to “fix it.”

Did I mention we hate it? I’m sure I did.

So what does that have to do with politics, you ask?

Simply, if we hate that kind of interference in our daily lives, why did a majority of Americans elect to office a bunch of meddling mothers and mothers-in-law?

* You can’t stimulate the economy by restricting it. If you’re lucky you merely maintain the status quo. If you’re unlucky, as is usually the case, the meddlers make things worse. Propping up failing businesses that didn’t tend to the business of business, aka customer service, only closes the window of opportunity for others to do it better. Entrepeneurialship languishes in limbo in this case.

* You can’t replace existing energy with energy that hasn’t been developed yet and you can’t force it by restricting the use of existing energy resources. This is a tough one for me because I have to sound like a liberal for moment, although I mean what I say and it’s not just a heartwarming slogan. The policies the government is willing to put in place is going to kill people. The more taxes and legislation is heaped on the less people can afford. The poor and the elderly will die as they suffer for meddling. How many horror stories are we going to here in the coming years about people who died from heat stroke or overexposure because they can’t pay their utility bills to fuel their air conditioning or heaters? And those same people who would restrict these things are the same ones who began that slogan, “Bush lied, people died.” Will we then say, “Obama lied, people died” in their morally relative world? Or will we relativise it so that it’s all in a “good cause”?

*Talk is cheap. Words only mean something if they’re followed by like actions. The nation elected a talker, not a doer, to the presidency and a whole posse of talkers, not doers to Congress. That’s another thing about meddlers, they’re always telling others what to do but always have exceptions for their own persons. Most of us would call that hypocrisy if it was the mother or mother-in-law… or the nosy neighbor next door… but seem to excuse it in our government.

If the politicians want to be our leaders, they had best start by being examples, not privileged dictators. All the media buzz is about Obama’s inauguration and how much it costs. In ordinary times, how much it costs wouldn’t bother me one iota but to have a president-elect stand before the cameras and tell us how bad the economy is and how we need to cut back and sacrifice while spending 150 million on his inauguration and costing the state government more on top of that for extra security and other services provided by the state reminds me so much of the meddlers in our daily lives who enjoy telling others what to do while accepting their own excesses as merely their due. All the talk about sacrifice when unwilling to personally sacrifice just doesn’t thrill me in the least, in spite of Chris Matthews’ leg tingles.

All in all, that’s just the last of a long list of offensive acts. While political parties are scrambling to either do damage control before Obama is even sworn in or trying to find a message that syncs with the American people or wondering what went wrong that they lost, I can sum it up in one word: meddling. With all the chatter in both parties, there seems to be this rush to “do” something, anything, to “fix it.”

If you put all the meddlers of the world in one room they’d all have the same answer as to why they meddle in spite of the fact that their meddling only makes a bad situation worse: they mean well. Didn’t someone once say “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”? We’re all set to be living testimonies to the truth of that euphemism. Even if one doesn’t question their intentions, the results of their meddling is still the same.

For me, the solution isn’t doing something, it’s doing nothing. If one feels something must be done, why not start with undoing some of the past meddling?  The more meddling there is, the worse things get and has been getting for decades.  When is government, mothers, mothers-in-law, and nosy neighbors going to butt out and let us be the adults we are, make our own adult decisions and live with the consequences? It used to be called Federalism or Conservatism. It needs a new name, or at the least a new descriptor: Unmeddling.

The most effective government is the one that meddles the least.

January 2009


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