Will Minnesota meet de Tocqueville?

Renew AmericaBy Tim Dunkin

According to some observers, a terrible catastrophe has just struck the state of Minnesota. Due to an impasse on fiscal and taxation questions, the government of that state has been "shut down." On one side of the divide, you have Governor Mark Dayton, a tranquil (and some would say tranquilized) leftist who has been pushing for higher taxes as a way of solving Minnesota's budgetary deficit. On the other side, there is the Republican-controlled legislature that, to its credit, have taken the rare step of actually displaying a backbone by pushing for spending reductions instead and by standing up to Dayton's efforts to further destroy Minnesota's economy. As of this weekend, the government of Minnesota "officially" is no longer open for business.

Much to the relief of the hard-working, productive taxpayers of the state, I'm sure.

Of course, the talk of a government "shutdown" is largely hyperbole. It isn't as if everything government-related in the state has ceased to exist. The roads and bridges are still open. The state police are still investigating crimes and policing the highways and byways. The lights are still on in the statehouse.

No, what is meant by "shutdown" is that all of those non-essential (and largely illegitimate) things that the state government had been doing have stopped. Things which it never should have been doing in the first place. We can see what some of those things are from this article, a puff piece appearing in a Canadian newspaper writing about the budget impasse,

"The blind are losing reading services. A help line for the elderly has gone silent. And poor families are scrambling after the state stopped child-care subsidies."

In other words, forget about roads, forget about public safety, forget about the limited set of things that governments are actually supposed to be doing — what they're concerned about are non-essential things that it is downright wrong for the government, any government, to be doing anywise. I'll get to reading services for the blind and help lines for the elderly in a moment, but let's focus on the "child care subsidies" for a minute. From further down in the article,

"In the absence of talks between Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and GOP legislative leaders, the shutdown was rippling into the lives of people like Sonya Mills, a 39-year-old mother of eight facing the loss of about $3,600 a month in state child-care subsidies."

See, leftists want you to read this and think, "How terrible! She can't get child care for her eight kids anymore!" I read this and think, "Well, isn't that a shame, she can no longer steal funds to the tune of $43,200 a year anymore from the hardworking taxpayers of Minnesota anymore." Think about it — by failing to exercise personal responsibility and having eight kids that she can't afford to pay for, she has basically been making the people of Minnesota give her the equivalent of a solidly middle-class salary for the purpose of taking care of those kids.

"So what could she do?", some might ask. Well, the answer — and one which should apply to all future case, especially those still in the making — is that she could take responsibility for her own actions, instead of passing the costs for her own poor decision-making off onto the rest of the state. I'm not saying she might not have to make some painful sacrifices, such as saving instead of spending, or building up a support network of family or within a church if she doesn't already have such a network to call upon. However, we know it can be done, because people did it in times past, and many still do today.

Personal responsibility is becoming something of a lost art in 21st century America. And why not? When your government basically sets up the system to encourage irresponsibility, not many people are going to have the fortitude or character to resist the temptation to let somebody else be your nanny. If the government will pay you hundreds of dollars a month to stick your kids in a daycare that you otherwise never could have afforded, what reason do you really have to stop manufacturing babies with every willing baby daddy who shambles by? Especially when the government is probably also paying for all your pre-natal care, the cost of delivery and hospitalization, and the post-natal pediatrics as well? The state itself sets up the taxpayer for exploitation by an increasingly large parasitic class. In my own area, there is a large population of homeless people — and these folks, almost to a man, get a combination of large checks from the state and federal governments at the beginning of each money. These checks are supposed to be used for things like rent, support while they find jobs, and so forth. Instead, the money's gone in three days, spent on a combination of booze, drugs, cigarettes, and prostitutes.

More: http://www.renewamerica.com/columns/dunkin/110704