Today we have Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid and unemployment insurance to help protect Americans against social disruptions. That should be more than enough. But no matter how good of a net we build, there will always be somebody who falls through the cracks. When the government tries to help everyone, all the time, it will always fall short. In the meantime, it’s not focusing on solvable problems, such as building safe bridges.
There are other examples. Politicians want to determine farm policy, they want to determine what fuel we use, they want to determine what medical treatment we receive. All of these things are impossible for lawmakers to do, and, thus, they ought to stop trying to do them.
But that’s the second problem. No matter what, lawmakers won’t leave projects up to professionals. They’d rather earmark projects that aren’t needed, stealing money that could otherwise be invested in critical projects.
Sen. Clinton perfectly encapsulates both these concerns. She says she wants to boost federal funding for public transit by $1.5 billion per year. Well, how did public transit get into this discussion? We should be concerned about preventing bridges from falling down, not about encouraging people to ride the bus.
But this perfectly highlights the earmark mentality. Federal funding for mass transit is simply a big spending federal program funding something Americans don’t want or need. If people want to take the train to work, they will. And if they don’t, no amount of tax dollars can convince them to. Clinton’s proposal is the perfect example of the government trying to do something that can’t be done, instead of something that must.
We need a federal government with a limited role. It should focus on achievable things, such as winning wars, sealing the border and building dependable highways and bridges. Until Washington narrows its focus, the danger will continue to grow.