A Controversial Post on Government

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Presents America (The Book) Teacher's Edition: A Citizen's Guide to Democracy InactionOne of my loyal Facebook followers brought to my attention this morning that I hadn’t posted anything controversial in the past while. She’s right. What’s the point in having a blog if you can’t annoy people every so often? So enough with the movie reviews (even though there are some really good ones I’d like to post about) and updates on my writing philosophy.

Let’s talk about govment. In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (picked for a quote because of the recent idiotic decision to release a bowdlerized version of it–see my comment on that post for my thoughts on that matter), Pap has this to say about govment: “Here’s what the law does: The law takes a man worth six thousand dollars and up’ards, and jams him into an old trap of a cabin like this, and lets him go round in clothes that ain’t fitten for a hog. They call that govment! A man can’t get his rights in a govment like this. Sometimes I’ve a mighty notion to just leave the country for good and all.”

We’ve got change a’brewin in government these days. Lots of people are up in arms, either talking about how the country is doomed or salvation has arrived. Up here in Maine, a Republican took the governor’s office for the first time in 16 years. I’ve heard plenty of both sides in local politics recently, that’s for sure. I haven’t really gotten into it one way or the other, although I’ll admit I’ve allowed whoever was talking at the moment to assume I agreed with them. I just don’t have the energy to regularly try to explain my feelings on the subject.

Case in point. Governor LePage, our new Grand High Poohbah, just signed an executive order removing the “sanctuary state” status of Maine–in an effort (according to him) to make sure that Maine tax dollars go to Maine residents, not illegal immigrants. Being married to an immigrant myself, I have a thing or two to say about immigration. I’ve also posted in the past my feelings on welfare.

Remember–I’m now officially a Bryceocrat. I endorse neither party. I see both sides to this. Both sides have good arguments. On the one hand, you have the desire to help out people in need of assistance. On the other, you have the desire that people shoulder their share of the burden. It seems to me that these days, much of the political realm is a lot like the temperature in my office. It gets freezing, so someone turns the heat to full blast. In not too long, it’s sweltering, so someone turns it to full Ice Cube. Wouldn’t it make sense to just leave it in the middle somewhere?

Yes, it would. But that’s not how you get elected these days. More’s the pity.

As a non-Mainer, I have no doubt my views will be dismissed by many life-long residents. But I still have them, and as long as I pay taxes to this state, then by golly, my views are just as valid. I think Maine is far too much of a welfare state. I think too many people rely on the government for too long. If I ran my family the way the state (and country) has run its government, I would be bankrupt and in jail. If you don’t have the money for something, you can’t buy it. That’s rule number one of budgeting. Even if what you want is fantastic–even if it would cure all sorts of troubles in the world. You need to cut something else out so that you can afford the new thing. If all of your budget is sacrosanct, then that new thing can’t be bought, no matter how “necessary” it is. (See my post on When Does Compassion End for further thoughts on this.)

You want my opinion of LePage? I think he’s foul mouthed, often ill-tempered, overly blunt and sometimes shows very little in the way of tact. He’s done and said some bone-headed things, and his way of handling the press needs some serious work. That said, he won the election. And there are things I like about him. What do I like? I like the plan to iron out the budget mess–even though I work for the state of Maine and that ironing out may well affect my job. I like the plan to cut back on welfare and put time limits on it. People were up in arms that he refused to have poetry readings and choral numbers at his inauguration. I’m okay with that, even though I’m a writer and lover of the arts. If LePage manages to institute some sort of fiscal responsibility and wrangles the Maine welfare program into submission, then job well done, in my book. He earns himself a “swear at the press all you want” card, signed by yours truly.

If, on the other hand, he fails to live up to those promises, then give him the boot. Fine.

I quoted Pap at the beginning of this post because I think he exemplifies many people’s attitudes toward government right now. They want it just how they want it, and who cares about everyone else. Well, we live in this thing called a democracy. If the majority vote for a guy or a platform, and that guy wins, then let’s at least give him the benefit of at least a week or two in office. If you don’t like what he’s doing, use the system to change it. Vote him out. Write letters.

Just don’t gripe to me.

And as long as I’m on my soap box, allow me to say that immigration to this country is a real pain in the rear to do the right way. I am 100% against illegal immigration. Anyone who got here illegally and who wants to now become a citizen can go to the end of the line and wait like everybody else. I’m sorry if there are people coming to Maine or the US hoping to get help from the state. I’m sorry there’s pain and hunger and war in the world. But if we don’t have enough money to adequately serve the needs of people here legally, then how can we justify serving people who shouldn’t be here at all? I read over the new rules LePage reinforced, and I’m not worried about my wife suddenly getting picked up and thrown out of the state. She’s got a US passport. Before that, she had a green card. We paid $2000 at a time when we were starving college students so that she could be legal.

For every person who points out that we’re a country of immigrants, I say back “legal immigrants.” People came to America at a time when all were welcome. We’re a bit full up right now with troubles of our own, if you haven’t noticed, so Uncle Sam lit up the “No Vacancy” sign–or at least “Limited Vacancy.” Do I wish immigration laws were simpler? Without a doubt. But them’s the rules right now. If you want them changed, change them.

To quote the great Phil Connors, “You make choices, and you live with them.”

Anyway–I’m out of lunch break. Not sure how entertaining this post was, and who knows if it was inflammatory enough to quell the clamor for controversy, but it’s all I’ve got in me right now. It’s Friday, folks. Enjoy your weekend, and stop worrying so much. Life goes on.

And now, in case I haven’t entertained you enough, and as a reward for making it this far in this rambling post, here’s a cool YouTube video that splices together all sorts of movies from the past year. Enjoy!


  • By Hilary, January 10, 2011 @ 7:15 pm

    You can only imagine my thoughts on welfare. I tend to temper them on my blog but I see SO many VERY well off people on medical. They’re cheatin’ the state and it drives me INSANE.

  • By Bryce's Ramblings, January 10, 2011 @ 7:32 pm

    And it’s not just the state they’re cheating. If the state had a magic money tree, maybe I wouldn’t mind so much. But when it’s my money they’re using . . . grrr . . . .

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