“You mustn’t despise politicians,” the diplomat tells the narrator of Colin MacInnes’s Absolute Beginners. “Somebody’s got to do the housekeeping.”
“If they’d stick to their housekeeping . . . then no one would despise them, because no one would notice them.”
This bit of wisdom from 1959, the year of my birth, probably echoed some long-ago sentiment MacInnes had not seen expressed but felt in the human consciousness. Few of us want a government entity telling us what to do, how to act, how to dress think live eat drink or die. My belief has been for some long time that as long as my actions do not interfere with the rights of others, I should be free to do whatever I wish. Taking an online political aptitude test several years ago (something a few steps above a FaceBook quiz) suggested that I am a Libertarian at heart. I’ve seldom voted that way, but as I grow older and the government grows more intrusive, I may be forced to shift my actions to match my thinking. For the truth about the major political parties in the United States is this: Both the Democrats and Republicans want to tell you what to do; they differ only in what parts of your lives they wish to control.
I have begun using the term DAFWA to indicate the great level of stupidity that government bodies are able to exhibit. Arlington, Texas at one time attempted to shift public references to the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area from DFW to DAFWA, which would then include Arlington. The effort was, of course, a complete failure and a magnificent waste of time and resources.
The most ridiculous recent example of government DAFWAity (if I may) is the recent crackdown on oversized sodas sold in New York City (By the way, the mayor is an independent). Really? In a city the size of New York, does the government body have nothing better to do? Yes, I know there is a weight problem in this country; there is a weight problem in my mirror! But surely, my 65 pound protruding belly is not the business of a city council, mayor, health board, or police officer whose new job will be to measure my drink size, salt intake, or waist line. It’s between my doctor and I or whoever I’m dating and I (literally).
Someone might suggest that my being overweight drives up insurance costs and, therefore, infringes on their rights (or money); however, those physicals we take for insurance purposes certainly take weight into account and my rates are set accordingly. The same with smoking. Do we really think this new form of Prohibition is going to be any more effective than the ban on alcohol, a ban which created some of the most ruthless criminals in the history of these United States?
And speaking of insurance, the idea that giving poor people access to insurance by requiring everyone to buy it is DAFWAinism at its highest. Poor people are going to buy food, clothes, electricity, and water. Even when given to them, the required co-pays and deductibles are more than a poor person can afford. A recent blurb suggested a redefinition of what it means to be poor in America, considering people like me who have no income but have computers, televisions, air conditioning, etc. People who have no disposable income will not suddenly have extra money to drive to the doctor, pay the $10 or $25 or $500, and go pay for perscriptions just because the government says to. For a poor family, that $25 can feed them for two or three days. Those small necessities will remain their priority. A better idea than insurance for all would be a minimum wage based on what it takes to provide housing and food for a three-person family. That wage requirement is constitutional as it protects the rights of the individual to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Neither insurance nor healthcare are mentioned, but if two of that family group works and brings in extra money, they can then go buy insurance.
The marriage debate bugs me as well, and on this issue I lean far to the right, but my reasoning is different from any other that I’ve heard. I don’t think the government has any business defining what is historically a religious institution and ceremony. I’ve always been bugged that married folk have benefits that single folks do not. I hate the two-for-one-entrée special; If you’re single and on a date it makes you look cheap, automatically disqualifying single people from participating. But that doesn’t mean I want a law telling the restaurateur how to run his business. I will either pay extra or go someplace else in protest. You want to get married? Do so. But don’t expect equal treatment, for no one, ever, anywhere, gets equal treatment.
In conclusion, I want to say this:
Hey, governmental bodies! Whether you are local, state, federal (who should be doing only what the constitution specifies), or some super-secret overseeing branch of the United Nations, listen up. Heed McInnes’s wisdom: Fix the roads, defend the borders, and leave us alone. If we don’t notice you, we will never vote you out of office.
By the way, apologies to Dennis Miller whose voice I kept hearing as I wrote.