Rich Galen

Speaking of the Gulf oil spill, in de Tocqueville's America, the people along the beaches and wetlands; the fishermen and shrimpers would have banded together to help stop the oil from spoiling the area.

Oh, wait. They are attempting to do that. It is the government which keeps getting in their way - the government which has become addicted to being the do-gooder in-chief by making small towns and great cities wholly dependent upon its largess.

There is a bridge in Michigan which connects Detroit with Windsor, Ontario. It was privately built, is privately maintained and the tolls collected go to its upkeep.

Not good enough. The Michigan House recently passed legislation which would get the state involved in the construction of a new bridge at a cost of $5.3 billion. This, in spite of the fact that, because of 9/11 and the recession "local border traffic remains at about half its 1999 levels," according to an article in Crain's Detroit Business.

There is a perfectly good bridge which is carrying a diminishing amount of traffic, but we have strayed so far from de Tocqueville's America that governments cannot bring themselves to permit private individuals (or groups of individuals assembled as businesses) to run projects that the government believes it can and should control.

The correction for all this may be: Governments all over the world are running out of money. The State of Michigan doesn't have $5.3 billion to build that bridge. Just as the governments of Greece and France don't have enough money to continue to allow people to retire at 50 (Greece) or 60 (France) in an era when the average life span has increased to 79.8 years (in Greece) and 81.1 years (in France).

Enlightened self-interest. Maybe it's time has come again. That would be change we could believe in.

Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at