Monday, July 05, 2010

Up Close and Personal with Big Government

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," with liberty and justice for owls! Let's talk about the long arm of Big Government with someone who has seen it at work.

Actually I'm not even to the federal level. Let's talk about the long arm of Big State Government with someone who has seen it at work.

Case #1: School Oversight Committees

The school district where I teach is monitored by some acronym-laden state entity that demands "adequate yearly progress" in our student population. In other words, each year more of our students have to pass the state standardized graduation test than the year before. We teachers work hard to improve our skills so that all of our students pass the test. But the state doesn't take into consideration that adequate yearly progress can only be made if each and every cohort of students is exactly the same. Which, as you know if you're a teacher, doesn't happen. Some years bring better students than other years. But our state, strapped for money, pays consultants to evaluate teachers, administrators, janitors (just kidding about that one, but I wouldn't be surprised), and facilities to make sure we're dancing as fast as we can in the classroom.

So, everything we do in our little school district, we do with an eye toward the state regulators. Personally I look at this as everyone pulling for the same goal -- educating at-risk students and getting them through high school. I know that some of my fellow teachers hate the state regulators. And some teachers do give it their all, then wind up on the cutting room floor when the kids take a dive on the tests. I think overall, though, we teachers try harder because we know "they" are watching. Logical use of data and state funding? Debatable. Overall goal? Commendable.

Case #2: Maryland's Department of Environmental Protection

Have you noticed that when states get strapped for cash, one of the first things to go is environmental protection? This is because a small group of tree-huggers can't compete with corporations that want less oversight of what they dump in the waterways. Will this BP mess change that? I hope so, because I'm pulling for the Maryland DEP.

My three long-time readers will remember that I have blogged about a despicable beast of a man named Michael Carnock who wants to build 4300 housing units just east of the Middle of Nowhere in Western Maryland. This greed-monger envisions a town of 11,000 souls on a property he bought for a song. (Just now there's nothing on that land but woods and weeds and critters.) Michael Carnock is even willing to pay to have one nearby creek dammed as a water supply, and he has promised to build a sewage treatment plant, the water from which will spill into a wet-weather stream called Terrapin Run.

Well, you see, the Maryland Department of Environmental Protection wants some information first. Those Big Government pencil-pushers in Annapolis -- the nerve of these guys -- want environmental impact studies! The poor put-upon Mr. Carnock has brought a lawsuit against MDEP for holding up his business venture.

Ask your average tree-hugger, and he or she will tell you there's not enough Big Government. I am one of those tree-huggers, and while I'm ranting, let me just say that I wish President Obama was an evil big spender! But he's not. It's business as usual in America, which -- although we love its flag and its history -- is a country dedicated to the enrichment of the few at the expense of the many.

Big Government is not going to knock down your door and take your guns away. It's not going to appoint some "chairman" on your block to keep an eye on you in case you do something "unpatriotic." It will send someone to investigate what's in those pesky drums that were dumped in the vacant lot. It will send a check to your aging mother-in-law, thus keeping her in her own home instead of in your spare room.

As for the complaints against Big Government, how is it that we only hear them when domestic issues are involved? I guess Government isn't Big when all it's doing is fighting wars overseas.

There's a Tier II stream in eastern Allegany County, Maryland that desperately needs Big Government. Is it foolish of me to root for the pencil-pushers in Annapolis?


Intense Guy said...

I think its a fools game to think the government screw ups will ever do anything right "in the best way".

They may accidently, despite themselves save this stream - possibly by unwittingly taxing Mr. Carnock into bankrupcy.

Call me a skeptic... money talks... and its the only thing that talks loud enough for the state morons to hear.

JohnFranc said...

Government is like any other human institution: it does some things well and other things poorly. It has its successes (Social Security - despite being underfunded it's the difference between getting by and abject poverty for many elders) and its failures (the War on Drugs).

Anne's examples clearly illustrate government's shortcomings, but also its necessity. Without "big government" this developer would be able to move unchecked to damage the environment, impacting the lives of people and other creatures who are literally downstream. Plus he would pass on millions of dollars of infrastructure costs (roads, schools, fire and police protection) to the people who are already there.

Government may be evil, but it's a necessary evil.

Anonymous said...

An oversight committee sounds like it's set up to commit oversights. Rodger Cunningham