We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Government

I really shouldn’t read the Letters to the Editor.

A couple of days ago, I read one from a woman who applauded the government shutdown, because we don’t need all these ridiculous regulations of our foods, our businesses and our local governments.

It’s a familiar theme.

Later that day, we stopped for gas, and my husband noted that the gas pumps had a sticker denoting the date they were last inspected. “If the shutdown goes on much longer,” he said, “those pumps won’t get their next inspection. I wonder how long it will be before consumers get shorted–before the pump says one gallon but dispenses a bit less than that. It only takes turning a couple of screws.”

My more libertarian friends will undoubtedly respond that if that happened, eventually people would catch on and that station would go out of business. Maybe–after a lot of people paid for more gas than they received. Or maybe not, since people stopping at stations on highway interchanges or in unfamiliar neighborhoods are unlikely to be “in the loop” of local gossip.

Gas stations aside, I’d suggest that if the clueless author of that letter prefers not to die of botulism (I hear that’s pretty unpleasant), she should welcome those intrusive FDA food inspections. I might remind her that people working for government didn’t just wake up one day and decide–hey, wouldn’t it be fun to go inspect those pork chops!? A lot of people got sick and died, and a lot of other people demanded that government–the folks who work for us–do something about it.

Look–it is perfectly reasonable to keep an eye on government to ensure that it isn’t getting into areas it shouldn’t, or conducting itself in a less than businesslike fashion, or playing favorites. It isn’t reasonable–in fact, it’s a sign of terminal stupidity–to suggest that we really don’t need no stinkin’ government.

I have news for all these anti-government ideologues. Most Americans no longer go out to the back yard and strangle a chicken for dinner. We no longer live miles from our nearest neighbor, so we can’t just throw our garbage out back for the animals to eat. The days of settling our disputes via duels is long past. And in case you hadn’t noticed, women and minorities are no longer willing to meekly abide by a bunch of rules made by white guys to privilege white guys.

The world has changed.

Today’s America is densely populated and interdependent, and individuals have neither the time nor–god knows–the expertise to test our food for contamination, review the business practices of our merchants’ and bankers and candlestickmakers, put out  fires in our neighborhoods and saddle up with the posse when a bad guy robs the local liquor store. We have things called airplanes now, and they need to be inspected; we have cars and they need roads to drive on and rules to regulate their use.

For these and a zillion other reasons, we need government.

Get over it.


  1. Well….maybe, but that Texas representative who says we can’t go to renewable energy like wind power because it will slow the winds down and cause the planet to heat up is also trying to tell us a little botulism is good for us….just look at Botox. So inspectors actually are harmful to the nation’s overall health.

    We just refuse to listen. “That Government is best which simply isn’t”. Silly us for refusing to acknowledge that.

  2. My guess is that the woman who supports this shutdown and wants government removed from regulating inspections of food, businesses and local government, also supports the politicians controlling us with their religous beliefs. She probably also supports the government controlling women’s health care decisions, our sex lives and wants continuing support from the Tea Party to buy and control elected officials. I believe this is referred to as being anally retentive; she will not let go of or spit out what she is being fed by the current pseudo GOP. Wish I could find where to buy that sweatshirt stating, “If Abraham Lincoln were alive today, he would be a Democrat”. Can anyone help with this?

  3. We need basically, a return to Constitutional government, with some additions.

    History tells us without some regulations, foods will be tainted and medicines adulterated. The Wiley Act of 1906 went a long way in fixing those problems. It’s too bad the FDA has been such a
    failure and is firmly in the pocket of big pharma.

    Labor unions have traditionally been the brakes on corporate greed. But thanks to completely stupid enactments like Taft Hartley released those brakes.

    And we need the social safety net. Without that, we will have people starving to death, stealing to stay alive. And it’s cheaper for society to help than to remove the dead bodies and treat the resulting diseases on an epidemic level.

    We need a centralized agency to coordinate highway construction, interstate commerce, maintain uniform traffic laws and a myriad of other actions that make life better. We are not going to stop the runaway greed by allowing for profit corporations to control these things.

    Society needs coordination, but super-sized government isn’t the answer, either.

    Government needs to serve society, not be involved in our personal lives, telling us what we can’t put into our bodies, whether we have to be strapped in our vehicles, forcing us to purchase a product from an industry and making us adhere to a religion’s concept of what is right and wrong and stealing our money to finance their global aspirations.

    We need government, but not at this pace.

  4. Reminds me of one of my favorite Madison quotes

    “If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed…”

    I’m sorry to say it and I am usually not this cynical, but we have some true idiots in Congress. What’s scarier is that they were actually elected there. Sigh…

  5. I’ve never seen a gas bump sticker inspection by a federal agency in Indianapolis. I do see them from Indianapolis Code Enforcement, which is almost entirely funded by the fees they collect.

    There are very real affects to a prolonged government shutdown (and even some for shorter term) but DCE and gas pump inspections aren’t one of them.

  6. That’s a cute little libertarian you-aren’t-my-REAL-dad screed, Neal. Now did you read the article or not?

  7. Government: BY the people, FOR the people and corporations are NOT people.
    We are the GOVERNMENT.

    Somehow the Faux Spews crowds keeps forgetting that.

  8. I was relieved to see that President Obama refused the GOP offer regarding the debt ceiling; like offering a baby a pacifier to temporarily keep him quiet. They tried to plug his mouth with a binkie and he spit it right back out at them. He is standing strong and I am proud of his stand. I don’t believe the Constitution allows this country to let any debts go upaid and it cannot stop funding a bill already passed and enacted. Along with their lack of comon sense, logic and knowledge of the voters in this country; the GOP obvously needs a referesher course in American History.

  9. AgingLittleGirl… According to Citizens United, corporations are people now… Scary isn’t it?

    Neal, good post up to the last paragraph, at which point you sound like the tea party. Don’t force you to buckle up? Really? Driving on tax payers roads is a privilege, not a right. You get in an accident, get injured, and do not have insurance, guess what, the tax payers foot the bill. Maybe that is ok to you, but for those of us who pay into the system, this is not OK. Don’t want to buckle up? Then don’t drive. Don’t want to be forced to have insurance, then don’t own a car. Don’t want to be forced to have medical insurance, then don’t live in the US. If we are talking about true freedom here, then I can agree to giving out waivers, but if you choose it, you 1) pay up front for medical treatments, and 2) if you cannot, then you are exempt from no patient turned away. After all that is the corporate way right? If you cannot afford it you do not get it. The problem with the idea in #2 is that we are Americans, we have a heart, we do not leave people to defend for themselves when down and out, we assist them, which according to Christianity, is the right thing to do.

    With that said, how does the Tea Party consider themselves Christians? They say they are, they say they hold beliefs, but act to dismantle what many Christians would consider basic christian values…

    Government–needed, insurance–needed, regulations–needed, scaling back spending–needed, controlling special interests in government–needed, education of the masses–really needed.

  10. Somebody post that quote again, please. The one about not being able to reason someone out of a political stance….

    You know the one.

  11. Betty: “It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into.”

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