As a casual observer of my neighbours to the south I am often taken aback by some of their ways. That the biggest, strongest, most economically and militarily powerful country in the world can screech to a halt over partisan political bickering is almost unfathomable! Yet there it is in living color and high-definition, giving those who design TV news graphics a field day – CNN proudly displays not one but two counters on its screen; one counting up the number of days since the government shutdown and the other counting down the hours and minutes until the debt ceiling catastrophe kicks in.
No doubt many Americans are understandably irate about this situation, especially those who are the first to feel the pinch in the pocketbooks. But I sense that many more are at least a wee bit pleased to see government failing because they have – and this never ceases to amaze me – an innate distrust, if not hatred, of government, all government. Does it go back to the second amendment that hinted at the possibility of government turning on the people and therefore guaranteeing them the right to bear arms?
“No government’s going to tell me not to pay my tax. Where’s my wallet?”
It’s as if anything government sanctioned should be eschewed on principle. As an example take the seat belt issue. There is no question seat belts save lives – as the State Trooper used to say in the old TV ads “I never had to unbuckle a dead man” – but once the government steps in and makes them mandatory people take offence; I suspect some stopped using seat belts just because they had been told to. There’s a dumb expression often used by people these days to explain their actions: “because I can”. You can poke a knitting needle in your eye, but it doesn’t mean you should; you can drive without wearing a seat belt, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. Americans don’t like to be told what to do by government, even though they elected that government.
You can poke a knitting needle in your eye, but it doesn’t mean you should
Which brings me to my suggested solution to the current stalemate in Washington. There are few problems that can’t be solved by throwing money at them, with the obvious exception of some health issues. Congress should pass a tax increase, right across the board, that would have folks up in arms, marching in the streets. But then the government should begin a massive “Withhold your tax” campaign. Telling people the new tax passed by congress should be boycotted, it’s unjust and merely a tax grab. Get those ad agencies to work on it.
No doubt such a campaign would cause many Americans to run for their checkbooks and fill the federal coffers muttering while “No government’s going to tell me not to pay my tax. Where’s my wallet?”