by Rob Roper
A question that kept popping up on my radio show this past week is why do seemingly rational people keep returning to Big Government for solutions when the record of Big Government failure is so profound. Beyond the inability to solve problems, in many instances government intervention has done terrible damage to the very people it’s supposedly trying to help, yet, we keep going back for more.
To the lay observer, this seems like a psychological disorder of some sort. Battered voter syndrome?
One example of government ineptitude recently surfaced over the issue of childhood obesity. It’s a serious problem, and government from the First Lady on down is on it. However, a study of 1000 public school children released last month indicated that the number one determinant of whether or not a child was obese or not was eating school lunch. The researchers found that kids who ate school lunches were 29% more likely to be obese than kids who brought lunch from home.
Since the government run school lunch program was introduced in the mid-1940’s to combat malnutrition kids have become fatter and fatter. Now, after billions spent by government to solve the problem of feeding the hungry has left poor children suffering from the ill effects of both malnutrition and obesity at the same time. Now, that’s a helluva feat!
Yet if you did a poll, most Americans would probably applaud the spending of another $4.5 billon (the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010) over the next decade on school nutrition programs. What are we thinking? Do we need professional help?
Another such disaster fostered by a “government that’s here to help” is the disintegration of the black family. Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society and the War on Poverty was supposed to solve the problem of inner city poverty, particularly for African Americans struggling in the civil rights movement.
But, before government got involved, as Thomas Sowell writes, “Two parent families were the rule, not the exception. They attended church together, had strong moral values, and did not comprise a majority of the prison population.”
Now, after half a century of government solutions, 60 percent of black children grow up in fatherless homes, 800,000 black men are in jail or prison, 70 percent of black babies are born to unwed mothers, and almost half of young black men in America’s cities are neither working nor in school, according to the Coallition of Urban Renewal.
Putting government in charge of such tasks remindes me of an old Far Side cartoon in which parents hire a witch to baby sit their children. Upon returning from their evening out they’re surprised, “So let me get this straight. We left you to take care of the kids and you cooked and ate them BOTH?” A sane person would have predicted the outcome.
Closer to home, our own new governor has a dangerous strain of this delusion. Despite acknowledging that no other government, state or federal, has been able contain health care costs – in fact, pretty much all attempts from Tennessee to Maine to Massachusetts to our own Catamount Health here in Vermont have been fiscal disasters – Peter Shumlin is betting this time’ll be different. Our economic future rests on the most rosy scenarios of success: $500,000,000 in savings the first year!
So, why aren’t mental health professionals ringing the alarm and getting all these big governement advocates onto couch for some therapy?
The answer to this came in an article this weekend, Psychology’s liberal bias. http://online.worldmag.com/2011/02/11/psychologys-liberal-bias/
Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist from the University of Virginia, started his presentation by polling the audience of approximately 1,000 psychologists. When he asked how many considered themselves to be politically liberal, about 80 percent of the hands went up. Centrists and libertarians? Dr. Haidt estimated that fewer than three-dozen hands were raised. When he asked how many were conservatives, precisely three hands went up…. He went on to call social psychologists a “tribal-moral community” whose “sacred values” impede unbiased research. “If a group circles around sacred values, they will evolve into a tribal-moral community. They’ll embrace science whenever it supports their sacred values, but they’ll ditch it or distort it as soon as it threatens a sacred value.”
It explains a lot, doesn’t it?