Pulling the Plug

What if we could pull the plug on our current government situation? We’ve all seen those movies where the automated systems supposed to make the world a better place, instead become self-aware, with the belief they know better, or are better than those they are supposed to be serving. The ensuing coup d’éta is stopped by a patriotic resistance that restores democracy by pulling the plug on the machine.

Okay if you can’t tell, Tuesday’s primary election left me a bit disillusioned. What is government coming too?

We had to pass a pair of state constitutional amendments to protect rights already guaranteed by federal law, not to mention a third amendment, the Right to Farm bill, that guarantees preferential status to one particular industry, albeit a crucial one for our state.

Thanks to the slimmest of margins of victory (around 2,500 votes statewide out of 994,974) the right to farm and ranch shall not be infringed. The right to engage in farming and ranching shall be guaranteed forever, subject to duly authorized powers to be determined by lawyers, judges and costly lawsuits.

According to legislators who backed the bill, it ultimately will help protect farm producers, big and small, from the alarming trend of over-regulation being pushed by special interest groups.

Have special interest groups, such as the Humane Society of the United States, one of the specters that is blamed for the need for Amendment #1, grown so powerful that only the Constitution can hold them at bay? Do you believe the HSUS could, if it wanted to, really convince or trick Americans into outlawing animal agriculture, adding America’s pig, poultry and cattle farmers to the long line of the unemployed?

If they could do this, what makes us think that the Missouri Constitution offers any more protection than that of the United States of America?

A small number of Missouri voters approved state amendments that make gun ownership an unalienable right, which the state will be obligated to defend against any and all infringement, largely out of fear that the U.S. Constitution’s 2nd Amendment, which states “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed” may get amended.

For good measure we added protection for our data and electronic communications, which already have federal constitutional protection, except from the feds of course. Does that mean the state version will protects us from everyone but the state?

Now that our guns, our data and our farms are safe, why stop there? Can we expect a Right to Affordable Electricity constitutional amendment to protect a state that depends on coal power from the costly green energy movement? What about a Right to Flush the Toilet amendment to protect waste water treatment processes that are facing mandated multi-million dollar upgrades to theoretically protect gill-slotted snails?

I don’t begrudge farmers for seeking Constitutional protection. I’m saddened they, and a majority of the state’s voters (those who voted that is) felt backed into the corner and forced to pursue such a defense. Are our basic rights now trapped in the Alamo, surrounded by special interest groups tag-teaming with a government, that in many areas has devolved into a bureaucratic blob, seeking out new and bigger sources of fines, fees, taxes and other funding to help facilitate unfettered expansion?

The Missouri “blob” will operate on a budget of $27,667,049,491 next year. Instead of trimming some of the fat and insuring needed services such as education and veteran affairs are adequately funded, it was easier to ask voters to help pay for medical services for our veterans with a new lottery ticket. We’re already boosting education funding with this type of voluntary taxation, so why not add some Save A Vet scratcher tickets with the lure of a big pay day for a lucky winner or two out of the millions who pay the tax to play?

At least the plea for more money for transportation was a bit more transparent, pledging to provide specified improvements in exchange for a 3/4 cent increase in the state sales tax. Granted that represents an 18% hike in the state sales tax, but given that we are already paying 1 cent for education, .125 cents for conservation and .10 for parks and soil conservation, .75 cents on top of 3 cents for the general revenue fund, it doesn’t seem that far out of line for our roads and bridges, which only get less than 8% of the state’s budget.

Despite an identified need, a defined spending plan, and a sunset date of 20 years when it would need voter approval once again to continue, the state’s 4.8 million licensed drivers showed indifference. Less than 1 million voters went to the polls on August 5th, and roughly 60 percent of them said no on Amendment 7, choosing pot holes and one-lane bridges over paying higher taxes. Perhaps we feel we are already paying enough taxes. Maybe we think that it is someone else’s responsibility to take care of us. Obviously the biggest majority could care less one way or the other. Less than one out of every four registered voters took the time on Tuesday to officially express their opinion on these matters.

President Abraham Lincoln told those gathered for the dedication of the Gettysburg Cemetery that “government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

While this ideal may not have perished, it looks to me like it may be on life support, with the plug in danger of being pulled.

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