Henry David Thoreau said he heartily agreed with that Jeffersonian remark, “that government is best which governs least.”
He said, however, he’d go one better, believing “That government is best which governs not at all.”
Henry was, in truth and fact, a non-violent anarchist.
Some might think our current brand of green tea anarchists from mostly red states draw wisdom from Henry when enthusiastically shutting down the government – invoking the Affordable Care Act (ACA)(or Obamacare) as their pretext for what they’ve wanted to do ever since they’ve dominated the House Republican Caucus in the U.S. Congress and dictated what the Speaker may move to the floor for a vote.
But Henry’s no-government anarchism presumed a precondition, that would be satisfied “when men are prepared for it, [and then] that will be the kind of government which they will have.”
Henry understood what the Tea Party does not, that is, that we are not “prepared” for it given that men (and women), in and out of government, have proven themselves to be thieves and liars, the manipulative cunning and the ignorant, the greedy and sociopathic, egomaniacs, the gullible, intolerant bigots, short-sighted, cowards, indolent good-for-nothings, violent, power crazed, sexually uninhibited, drug addicts, and that’s merely skimming the surface of how truly “unprepared” man is.
John Adams explained it more simply, and less offensively, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.”
Men (and women) are not angels.
Nor is our Congress made up of angels.
We have been witnessing a bipartisan congressional failure of will and oath that has shuttered the doors of government on the eve of our debt crisis. This crisis is summarized in the question, “Does our government have the legal authority to borrow what is necessary to pay our bills?” The answer is not for long. The remedy is to increase our authorization to borrow before we default on our obligations.
The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution says clearly that -”The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.”
But we have a Congress “questioning” a mandatory directive (“shall”) and compromising the “validity” of the bonds we have and those we need to issue by failing to authorize more debt.
This is debt the United States has already incurred including Social Security, Medicare, contracted obligations, and interest that is due and owing.
We have misty-eyed members of the U.S. Congress who take a knee praising our U.S. Constitution as the most amazing legal document ever written, who insist it be read aloud in the People’s Congress, who swear to uphold every jot and tittle of its “glorified” composition, handed down from blessed authority on high, to hear them invoke this document, but, when it matters, they blatantly defy its express terms and fail to authorize our government’s ability to pay its bills on time.
Where is Guido when we need him?
Some have argued, with some merit, that the President should usurp what has been the role of the U.S. Congress and increase the debt limit himself, presuming, under the Fourteenth Amendment, that it is a power the Executive shares with the U.S. Congress, and assuming its self- executing, meaning it requires no legislation for him to do so. It would be unprecedented but constitutional.
Plainly, we’re going to have to reconsider our haughty view of the financial chaos we mocked in Greece and Italy as we’ve found another way to be truly “exceptional” – and it’s not praiseworthy.
If vengeance for congress breaching its constitutional obligation is the best we can do, then we should consider impeaching the Speaker of the House who refused to allow a vote that would avoid this governmental disaster – lest he lose his “phony baloney job” as Speaker (to borrow from comedian, Mel Brooks).
We must re-evaluate every member of Congress next year – and add to our electoral reform package a re-districting of every secure seat nationwide without regard to party – eliminating safe seats in districts gerrymandered for perpetual incumbency – as the job security of our unresponsive elected representatives has made the nation unsecure.
To sum it up, Adams is right – No angels here.
Thoreau is also right, we are not “prepared” to do away with government.
But we have some offensive members in government who must go.