Monday, December 31, 2007

Weighing in ....

It’s New Years Resolution time again, and good intentions will be thicker than presidential candidates in Iowa for the next few days. My resolution will be to take off a few pounds. I figure sooner or later, if I make it often enough, I’ll surely drop at least a couple of pounds.

When I graduated from high school, I weighed in at about 140 pounds. Now, nearly 40 years later the bathroom scales are spinning towards 200 and screaming for mercy, and the waist and inseam measurements on my pants have traded places since my school days.

I’m not sure when I gained all the weight. I guess like so many things in my life, it crept in an ounce or two at a time, gradually, so as not to alarm me. I compensated by letting my belt out a notch and wearing it a little lower, and convincing myself that I was simply maturing as part of the natural process. Still, if someone would have asked me 40 years ago if I would like to pack around an extra 60 pounds all day, I’m pretty sure I would have told them no.

Over the last several years we’ve been experiencing the same creep from our government. While we were busy raising our families and buying groceries, it has continued to grow. Sometimes it grows by ½ of a percent in the form of an economic development income tax, or 1 percent as a sales tax increase. Sometimes it grows a little faster, like with a property tax increase, and we will throw a fit for just a little while, and the government will tax somebody else for a little while to placate some of the property owners, but it will continue to grow.

When I graduated from high school the national debt stood at $389 billion. That amount won’t pay the interest on the debt as it stands today. It didn’t get that way overnight, but every year since I graduated the federal government has spent more than it has confiscated. Sooner or later that’s bound to catch up with you.

The bureaucracy is growing in other ways as well. This summer, a friend of mine was informed that he would have to get permission from his neighbors before he could add a room onto the back of his house. Down the road a piece, a grandson was ticketed for carrying a bow and arrows on his grandfather’s farm. In the next four years, the light bulbs that you are likely using to read this article will be illegal, and will need to be replaced with bulbs that can cost 6 times as much.

Someone asked me once if I could name three things that the government didn’t tax or regulate. It was a tough question then, and it’s getting tougher every year. It’s going to get a lot tougher if we don’t start paying attention.

It didn’t take any effort for me to put on this extra weight, but it will take a lot of effort to get it off. The same is true of the government. Thomas Jefferson said that it is the natural tendency for government to grow and for liberty to yield. It won’t take any effort at all on our part for government and taxes to grow. It will take a lot of effort on our part to reduce our government back to its intended size and purpose. And it will take a lot of effort to keep it that way.

That’s how it works when you battle natural tendencies.

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