Sunday, April 21, 2013

Americans Love the Government When We Don't Hate It

Bostonians cheering the police, FBI, National Guard after second suspect was caught.

A major flaw in the thinking of libertarians, conservatives, and other lovers of small government is what they'd put in place of the government they have so much contempt for. The recent events in Boston are a prime example. Would they like a government that stood around scratching their heads, thinking, "Uh, but won't people get offended if we're too heavy-handed in dealing with this crime? Should we just go around confiscating video footage until we discover who did this? Don't people know how best to spend their own money? Aren't there some kind of free-market forces that can handle this?"

Uh, no.

Of course, the police can be heavy-handed some times, and when they get that way, I shout just as loud as any libertarian, although I've always felt that when events take place like those on the UC Davis campus a couple of years ago at the height of the Occupy movement, very few conservatives or libertarians were up in arms against such police actions.

Maybe the people cheered the cops in Boston because they weren't doing this.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, no friend to government spending when it comes to education, infrastructure, and funding legally obligated public pensions, was accorded near Greek-god status for demanding government money now, now, now when Hurricane Sandy ripped up the Jersey Shore.

Yes, Chris Christie, you proved how much we need good government. Ironic?

I watched the events in Boston unfold with awe and apprehension, and, like many Americans, I was glued to my TV for much of a week. It was as if reality TV got actually real for once. Sure, some of the coverage was repetitive, and some of the channels -- CNN comes to mind -- spent far too much time trying to scoop the others instead of delivering reliable reporting, but overall a very compelling story played out in front of our eyes.

First, the horrific bombings at the finish line of the Boston Marathon take place. Chaos is followed quickly by acts of incredible heroism and competence, which limits the carnage and saves lives by the dozen. It was remarkable. Did you stop to wonder how much the magnificent hospitals that are concentrated in Boston depend on local, state, and federal money? Just asking.

Then, many levels of law enforcement work quietly for a couple of days, collecting as much photo and video evidence as possible, along with, no doubt, endless eye-witness interviewing and forensic work, at the end of which a decision looms: Do we withhold what we've discovered in order to catch the bad guys unawares, or do we release what we've got in order to smoke them out?

When photos and videos were released, the jig was up. Dudes were toast, and they knew it.

Smoke them out they did, and the next twenty-four hours were beyond captivating. Real life played out -- for better or worse -- on network and cable TV. In the end, one suspect was dead and the other in custody.

Who did this? The government, using all the tools at its disposal. I've worried about these tools of the surveillance state that have expanded since 9/11, but I must admit the way they were used in Boston was investigation at its best with none of the potential for abuse on display. So, I suppose, this is where liberals and conservatives alike come together in admiration and appreciation of the capabilities of the state. We're overwhelmingly pleased at what local, state, and federal law enforcement -- and the related fields of government-funded medical and paramedical services -- did for us these amazing days in Boston.

Do Republican policies -- and politics -- give us
the government we want? That is the question.

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