Democratic governments of nations throughout the world are establishing new laws that mandate benefits to all people that they govern. The cost of these new benefits is borne by a mixture of industry that can be taxed in those nations, taxes from the citizens themselves, and increasingly, unpaid debt that is passed to future generations to pay. The United States of America (USA) practices governance that follows an ancient Greek model for government, with some adjustments. Essentially, the people of the USA elect their government office holders, who then occupy offices of authority, responsibility, and accountability. I refer to all three as an elected official’s “power” in this article. Power includes the capability to create new law. It is the government apparatus itself that enforces the law. Since the founding fathers of the USA were most concerned about too much power in the hands of one or a few people, the government of the USA features many well-crafted checks and balances on elected government officials. However, the greatest check on a wielder of power in government is the people who are governed. They wield the power of the vote. The balance is supposed to be achieved by the flow of information to the voters so that they understand what the elected officials intend to propose as new law.
Why New Laws with more Benefits?
Any two people might encounter a politician, and each might perceive him/her differently. Politicians are (or try to be) all things to all people that they govern. Some possess a soul seated with a strong moral compass. Others are in office to enjoy the perks. The rest of them are somewhere between those two extreme viewpoints. In the USA, unless they are independent of a political party, all of them are affiliated with one of two political parties, and are subjected to great pressure to support the objectives and goals of their party. Many people view the word “compromise” as weak. However, compromise is how politicians (especially those with different party affiliations) reach agreement. Think of it like the saying, “You scratch my back and I will scratch your back.” In other words, one politician can say to the other that he/she does not agree, but will support the other’s proposed new law in exchange for the same agreement from the other. Why so many new laws with more benefits? One of the political parties is willing and feels empowered to be Santa Claus for voters. One gets gifts from Santa Claus, and does not pay him for those gifts. The elected officials of the other political party are so few in number that they cannot check the move. There can be no compromise when the elected officials of one party can achieve their party objectives without the need for compromise. Is this a bad thing? Maybe. That is something for you (the voter) to decide. Simply put, if your government passes a new law that gives you something that you did not have, that is a benefit to you, it is a good thing, if you can afford it. If you get the benefit without paying for it (the Santa Claus effect), then the good thing is even better! On the other hand, if the government passes a law that gives a benefit that you already have, it is a yawn. It is choking, when the government also gives you the bill (tax) to pay for the gift to others.
Should Voters be Concerned?
If there is no check on the Santa Claus effect, it will continue, unbounded. This will especially be true if enough voters (a majority) combine to support the political party that promotes for election only candidates that will strengthen and expand the Santa Claus effect. Should all Americans (or citizens of any country led by a Democratic government) be concerned? Yes! Those who are compelled by law to pay for Santa Claus’ free toys will leave, and take their money with them. That should be apparent to Americans, who see so many American companies shift operations to other countries. How happy are you, as a voter, to get more “free stuff” from your government when it caused you to lose your job, caused your children to not be able to get a job, and took from you the long-held vision of excellence for America? If you are upset about this, whose fault is it? Who is to blame? You are at fault. You (the voter) are to blame. It is your fault because you are uninformed and you are disinterested in politics. See the summary above. The balance is information. Until inter-netted communications was put into place, American voters were informed by journalists. Today, the visual media (television) still provides the most convenient source of information to the voters on what their elected officials do. The problem with that is that most of the networks affiliate with one of the political parties. They have true journalists in the lower ranks, but the message to you, the voter, each day, is blended with the objectives and goals of (mostly) the political party that is behind the Santa Claus effect. You will not get balanced information on what your elected officials propose to become new law by watching television news.
Check the Politicians
Especially if you are an American citizen, the ghosts of the founding fathers of your country must be screaming at you from their graves! Do something. They did not spill blood and treasure to give you gifts. They gave you a democracy. It is not, and will not ever be a finished product that will run on autopilot. Get involved. Get your balance from political blog sites. Search for several that will tell you what your local government’s objectives and goals are. Become familiar with the local elected official who represents you. Form an opinion and share that opinion with your neighbors. When you and your neighbors agree, each of you should communicate your opinion to that local representative. The vote is important, but the officials only see the numbers. The way you understand what is happening in your local community is by being informed (information), interested (form an opinion and talk with others), and by communicating your views to the elected official.
The Power of the Voter
Try this: State a summary (3-4 sentence narrative) on a situation that concerns you; state a desired end state (what you want to achieve);state some facts (give sources) and assumptions, that support your concern; give your guidance with constraints (must do this) and restraints (must not do that); suggest some tasks that will begin to address your concern; state what you believe are measures of performance that will define that your end state has been achieved. This is what you prepare before you communicate with an elected official. Practice with your neighbors. They will tell you if you have made a point that effects them. Ask them to support that point along with you. If they will, you and they can contact the elected official as a block of voters. The official must reply, must tell you if he/she will promote your concern or not, and why. If he/she does accept your concern, he/she will ask you to help him/her form up more voters to support what you asked him/her to do. Do it! That is what your founding fathers wanted you to do. Once you have made this your habit, scale it up. Repeat what you did by finding the blog sites for your state government. Now you will communicate with your state representative. Finally, repeat this habit at the national level. You will communicate with your senator and representative in Congress.
The Responsibility of a Citizen
If you and your neighbors are active in communicating your concerns locally, in your state, and nationally in Washington, you and your neighbors have formed the ways and means to examine and act on the objectives and goals of political parties. Perhaps, half of (you and your neighbors) might join one political party (Democrats) and the other half join the other party (Republicans). Now, work with your neighbors in both parties to repeat the check. Stay informed, form opinions, and advocate those opinions to those in both political parties who set agendas that may become law. This is where you earn the right to be called a United States (or other Democratic nation) citizen. Tell both party officials that you do not expect to see Santa Claus until Christmas, and that it is you, the voter, who pays for the toys that Santa Claus brings to your house. Tell them the major focus areas that concern you. Give them your objectives, your restraints and constraints, your measures of performance, and the end states that you want them to achieve. Explain to them the intellectual and moral qualities that you expect their candidates for office to have. Tell them plainly what will win your vote. Can excellence coexist with equality? Yes it can, if that is what you want, and you, as a voting citizen, work to get it.