Saturday, January 26, 2008

...But Isn't That the Point?

One of the common complaints one hears from Illinipundit and other conservatives is that the lament over politicians who think that "the federal government can and should solve everyone's problems for them." They even have a nickname for people espousing such views, "nannystaters".

Last I checked, the entire point of government was to solve the people's problems and to work for the public good. So, why are conservatives complaining about government doing its job?


Glock21 said...

One could argue that the government's job, especially the federal government's job, is to secure the blessings of liberty far more than to solve the problems of how we use that liberty.

National policy that goes beyond their limited powers to tell us how to live really conflicts with the ability of the people to self-govern. If people want that kind of regulation they'll push for it in their local/State governments. If they don't, they don't have to.

Some issues are interstate in nature, or require federal intervention in protecting liberty from State infringement (w00t 14th Amendment rocks!) but when they try to do the local/State gov'ts job for them, which inherently infringes upon the right of citizens to self-govern on local/State concerns... it starts crossing into the territory where the federal government is actually limiting the liberty of Americans... not securing liberty for them.

Some take this too far, some don't take it far enough.

I'm still looking for that perfect happy medium myself... but there probably isn't necessarily any perfect one for everybody.

rknil said...

You need look no farther than the wishy-washy smoking ban in Champaign to see why you can't rely on local government. First the ban was supposed to start Jan. 1, 2007. Then it got pushed to Jan. 31.

Then the local council decided to revoke the ban, even though the state planned to put a ban in place for 2008. No direction, no consistency.

Other local bodies of government are functioning inefficiently. One can only wonder how long it will be before the state has to step in with those groups.

It's not "nannystatism" or whatever silly term the IP crowd is using. It's correction. With luck, people will take more responsibility, and there won't be a need for these laws. Until then, though, government will act.

Glock21 said...

rknil... so with something as minor as a smoking ban, the representatives of the community passed a law...

...the voters replaced some of those representatives over it, and the new group reverses the law.

Sounds like democracy/self-government in action.

And they did all of this without imposing their views on other region's of the State that had little to no interest in such a law.

Regionalism in democracy.

Now with the State getting involved with the issue there are many regions of the State with a law they didn't support and little to no way to govern the way they'd prefer. Instead those who supported the law, almost entirely in and around Chicago got to impose their will on everybody else everywhere in the State.

Was it necessary for the State to impose such a law on so many people who didn't want it? I'd say no... others disagree.

But to rip on the term nannystatism and in the same breath point out how the government must act to correct the behaviors of its irresponsible residents... well, I laughed out loud. Soda up the nose.

The Squire said...

From what I remember of my 100-level polisci classes, the states have permanently ceeded power to the Federal government on some issues - defense, currency, foreign relations, and all things necessary and proper to the running of the union - while permitting subsidiary units of government various levels of home rule. The main reason the state grants power to lower levels is because micromanaging is a pain in the ass, and leaving the details to the locals is a good idea. However, the state retains the power to make whatever rules it wants, and can take back whatever powers it has granted to lower levels of government.

With that in mind, I don't view terribly highly any arguments about the state ramming things down the throats of local levels of government. I'm also really tired of downstaters complaining about the power held by the Chicagoland area. Every state in the Union, Illinois included, is a democratic republic (or, at least, is so on paper) and as such the majority tends to rule. If the entire Chicagoland area wants something, it tends to get it. Now, having lived downstate for five and a half years, I understand when people get pissed off at certain idiots in government (*cough* Blagojevich *cough*) run things as if I-80 were the Southern border of the state. However, when the Chicagoland area sees the need for a uniform law on a certain topic, the rest of the state gets drug along too. That's the price the downstate pays for not being Missouri - where the state doesn't tax and doesn't do much of anything either, which is why the roads are falling apart.

Besides, anytime someone complains about the smoking ban, it has the same ring to my ear as people complaining about the state's mandatory seat belt laws - though that may just be me as a seat belt-wearing non-smoker.

In any case, my original thoughts on this issue were more on social programs and things like progressive taxation than on laws/ordinances that make certain self-destructive things illegal. I suppose I should've made that a bit clearer in the original post.

Glock21 said...

I agree that the State has the power to allow or deny home rule on certain issues under the Constitution and their own Constitutions... but that doesn't change my view that they shouldn't deny home rule on issues that aren't expressly Statewide concerns. That's part of my personal opinion to ensure that as many people as possible get the kind of government they want.

I think it's a worthy goal even if it isn't as simple as the typical majority rules concept. Majority rules works much better when it applies to as much of the majority as possible and is tempered by minority rights. The best way to ensure that is to allow regionalism in democracy, imho.

With the Chicago vs downstate issue it isn't just that they can outvote us, they can block us at almost every step along the way. They control the committees that can kill any bill, they head both houses of the GA that can prevent any downstate centric bill from seeing the light of day, and they control the veto statewide offices, the veto pen, etc.

To make matters worse they control a great deal of the campaign money purse for downstate democrats to ensure their grip on that power with their allegiance as we saw locally with Frerichs.

So it's not merely a matter of being outvoted as much as being at their mercy to even have our issues considered.

It's not just about whether the State has the power to deny home rule, it's whether they should when such matters could and possibly should be handled locally to keep as many residents satisfied with how they're governed on issues that aren't expressly statewide matters.

I think such concepts are pretty reasonable, even if people may disagree from time to time on what matters are statewide concerns or not and whether the Northeast can outvote us on any particular issue or not.

The Squire said...

Also, I would have it be known that I am all for keeping consequences in the system, to a large extent. What we're seeing now with the national economy is the end result of 20+ years of "the market knows best and will correct itself" philosophy of being dominant. Well, lost of people got caught up in stupid and the market is correcting itself. I personally think the government needs to let a bunch of the lending companies get caught holding the bag for the bad loans they issued and not do anything to prop up real estate prices. Maintaining housing prices at unaffordable levels (that are twice as bad now since no one can get credit to afford anything that pricey) is not in the economic interests of the country.

That said, I am all for a safety net for individuals. As one falls economically, there comes a point where the system actively works against you to keep you down - i.e. you're barely making enough to feed yourself and keep some sort of roof over your head, let alone afford to pay to get an education to better yourself, and not everyone has a relative who can spare the money to do so. I am fully aware that many at the bottom rungs of the socioeconomic ladder are there because they insist on making consistently bad choices, people at the bottom should be afforded every opportunity to better themselves if they choose to exert the effort. As for the rest, just because they make bad choices doesn't mean they should starve.

I can go on to discuss how good public education and health care are key policies to enable everyone, especially those at the bottom, to contribute to the economy, but I've gone on long enough and I'm more interested in seeing where others will take the discussion at this point.

The Squire said...

Well then, Glock21, what are you proposing to allow the greater Chicagoland area to have its regional governance that doesn't drag the downstate with it?

rknil said...


Of course, you ignored the fact that the new council had a slim majority in reversing the ban, and it acted even though it knew the state was putting a ban in place a few months later.

I'd hardly call the act a mandate of the people.

And I busted on the "nannystatism" term because it's just silly. I would prefer less government myself, but as I proved in my example, local government can't always be relied upon to act sensibly and consistently. Flip-flopping on restrictions that are just going back into place a few months later is hardly responsible.

But I'll be sure to act against those irresponsible government officials when the time comes.

Glock21 said...

Squire... what am I proposing so Chicago area can govern how it wants without implementing it statewide? Just that they govern how they want without trying to implement it statewide. I'm just arguing for more home rule on issues that aren't expressly statewide matters. Not that they shouldn't have any say on statewide matters.

Maybe I'm just not understanding your question?

rknil... I'd argue the smoking ban is probably a bad example either way, home rule or statewide policy. But I don't see how an example of people electing different representatives to change policy is inherently a bad thing, even if in this case it was a bit futile. A government that is consistent but doesn't represent the voters well isn't an ideal government for them.

The Squire said...

Glock, my point is that if the greater Chicagoland area wants something done, that becomes a state-level thing. There's no intermediate level of governance that permits legislation to be enacted over the seven-county area, by that area alone, so if they want uniform laws on certain things, that has to be done by the state legislature. My question is, what do you propose to allow the Chicagoland region to have the uniform rules it wants without giving the downstate area yet another reason to squawk.

rknil said...

Electing people to change a policy that would just be put back into place in 8 months doesn't make much sense.

I think it's an argument as to why government has to restore sense from time to time. Tragic, but true.

Glock21 said...

Squire... ah, okay, I'm caught up now. Yes, for a regional item like that it would almost certainly involve the State gov't but not necessarily statewide policy. Say with the mass transit that covers multiple counties/local government and ensuring that the system works as a wider system. Definitely a State issue due to the fact the policy extends beyond local government.

Does that mean that the State needs to apply those same policies to every mass transit system in the whole State? Not necessarily, but some policies may be applicable in some smaller but relatively populous areas.

I'd prefer people try to leave as much as possible to the local governments but obviously there are some greater regional and statewide issues that would certainly be in the realm of State government to address... though not all would necessarily require statewide policy if it's simply a regional issue.

The Squire said...

But if you write into laws that they only apply to counties x,y,and z, isn't that just going to make the state statutes even more messed up than they are now? I mean, I know Chicago gets this treatment, but there's reason for that - it's by far the state's larges city. To do this for every region would be insane.

interloper said...

Whiny conservatives DO want govenrment to solve their problems, they just have different problems. Take Bambi, for instance. He whines and cries about limited government, but then tries to use the FEC to shut down Daily Kos and wants the government to take away violent video games from grown adults.

It's all about getting their way.