Washington, leave us alone

In anticipation of the importance of President Biden's March 1 State of the Union address in light of Biden's abysmally low (40%) approval ratings, Wall Street Journal contributor Andy Kessler in his February 28 column proffered suggestions to aid Biden to salvage his flagging presidency. 

He urged Biden to "Make Populism Pop Again."  Use the bully pulpit to announce Biden Bonuses, a set of gestures providing "everyday Americans" (Hillary's term) exactly what we want. 

Kessler's number one Biden Bonus to jettison masks was rendered moot overnight when the stars of science and Biden's poll numbers wondrously aligned in the heavens above Capitol Hill to make masks vanish moments before the president took the podium.

Other Biden Bonuses would simplify the everyday life of millions of Americans.

Stop making us remove our shoes and belts at airport security checkpoints.  Do random screening — every 20th passenger gets a thorough exam — instead.  Announce the end of calorie labeling in restaurants.  Americans aren't stupid.  We know that a double bacon cheeseburger with fries contains a million calories.  Stop making us feel guilty about our guilty pleasures.

Bottom line: Leave us alone.

Coincidentally, I had heard that P.J. O'Rourke died on February 15 at age 74.  I wasn't acquainted with O'Rourke or his work.  I did know he was a writer, irreverent, and funny.  

I happened to be reading O'Rourke's Thrown under the Omnibus, an anthology of his five decades' oeuvre, when I read Kessler's column.

Thumbing through its pages, I came upon "The Mystery of Government," a trenchant O'Rourke essay that begins, "What is this oozing behemoth, this fibrous tumor, this monster of power and expense hatched from the simple human desire for civic order?  How did an allegedly free people spawn a vast, rampant cuttlefish of dominion with its tentacles in every orifice of the body politic?"

He had me.   

O'Rourke's rants about government's micromanagement of alleged free peoples' lives — regulating the amount of tropical oil in snack foods, autocratic school boards decreeing that parents have no say in their children's education — echo Kessler's rants.

But the bigger question remains: how did we get here?

O'Rourke begins by contrasting the Founding Fathers' ability to get to the point with today's legislators' bloviation and obfuscation as part of the problem.  Seven generations after the Founders wrote the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, we can tell what they were talking about.  Try that with Joe Biden's $4-trillion, 2,100-page Build Back Better Plan.

O'Rourke writes that the U.S. Constitution's succinct twenty-one pages (in the American Civics E-Z reader large-type version) contain the complete operating instructions for a nation of over three hundred million people.  The owner's manual for a Toyota Camry at the time was four times as long.

He asks a simple question: "Are we done yet?"  Done with passing laws and raising taxes?  In seeking a more perfect Union, do political idealists risk destroying the Union they seek to perfect?

O'Rourke concludes that the mystery of government is not how Washington works, but how to make it stop.

I agree.

Washington: Just leave us alone.

Image: Cato Institute.

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