Senator Jeff Kruse
R-Roseburg, District 1
E-Newsletter Number 1, Volume 1
Working Hard For You
I received a few interesting responses to my last newsletter. There were some who seem to get the impression I am anti-government. Actually there are people who seem to think many of the groups who have sprung up around this country, like the Tea Party, are anti-government. They are not and I am not. Government is essential for a well ordered society. The alternative is anarchy, which no reasonable person would want. The real question is; what is the role of government? This is the question our Founders tried to answer with the Constitution.
Some answers seem easy, like national defense and police protection. But even areas like these can have subsets. Clearly an army needs to be of a national scale, but do we need a national police force? As in most areas of government The Constitution assigned these duties and responsibilities to the individual states. Additionally the states have assigned core functions to the individual cities and counties. This is simple in principle as the best government is at the level closest to the people. In reality the states have found it necessary to have a state police force to deal with public safety issues that cross jurisdictional boundaries. Similarly the federal government found it necessary to create the FBI to deal with public safety issues that crossed state boundaries. I don’t think anyone would argue this matrix is not necessary and appropriate, but it should also be noted jurisdiction starts at the local level and moves up based on defined criteria.
The transportation infrastructure is another example of an area government involvement is logical and necessary. This area also has well defined areas of jurisdiction and responsibility. While it is important for the federal government to have responsibility for the part of the transportation system connecting the country, it would create an unmanageable mess to put the feds in charge of all city and county roads. The reality is, in most areas of government involvement, the farther up the “food chain” one goes the more complicated and non-responsive things become. This is a good agreement for local control in everything from education to social services. One size does not fit all and never works the way it is intended.
The question before us now is quite simply has government become involved in areas of our life it does not have the Constitutional authority to be involved in. Example: the Federal Department of Education. The enumerated powers clearly leave this authority with the states and very few in the education enterprise will tell you they find benefit from this agency. The same can be said for all social services. What we have seen at both the state and federal level over the last 60 years is a growth in government that has out stripped our ability to pay for it with increasingly diminishing returns on investment. Currently the only sector of our society experiencing growth is government and the increasing tax burden is making it harder for many in the private sector to stay solvent. During this Legislative Session it is my hope we will revisit a lot of the programs enacted over the years (most with the best of intentions) and make discrete decisions as their continuation.
I want to tell you a story about a conversation I had with a constituent many years ago. She called to complain about the quality of food her kids were getting in the school breakfast program. At the end of the conversation she actually said (almost as a threat) that if there wasn’t improvement she was going to start feeding her kids breakfast before they went to school. I told her maybe that would be a good idea. When we have reached the point where people think it is government’s responsibility to raise and feed our children we have gone too far.
Without personal responsibility there can be no personal success. As long as a person is dependent on government they will never achieve their full potential; which would be my wish for everyone. Government is not smarter than people and people know more of what is in their own personal best interest than government does.
A line from a John Lennon song from the 60’s was “power to the people”. It is time to once again make that line a reality.
Senator Jeff Kruse