Monday, March 14, 2011

Keeping government small and local

Tea Party types, and conservatives in general, like to rail against Big Government, and they want to keep government as small and local as possible. They claim that the Constitution was written with that expectation (it probably was) and that therefore, that is how it should always be (a questionable premise).

So my question is, How would that work out in the face of an event like what happened last week in Japan? Suppose Japan had most of its power and control vested in individual prefectures. What happens when an entire prefecture (several, in fact) are devastated all at once?

In the United States, we had the Katrina event, which brought devastation to several states. Absent a strong central government to help with recovery and to spread the cost around, how is a local government supposed to cope?

We face the possibility of destructive events on the scale of Japan's in the Pacific Northwest and from San Francisco to San Diego in California. And then there's the Yellowstone Caldera and the New Madrid Fault, if you run out of things to worry about.

The benefit of having a strong and effective national government is obvious. Any time risk is shared by a larger pool of people, it is minimized on individuals. That's how insurance works, and that's how government works. We need to stop demonizing government and think about the only thing worse than a government in control, and that is lack of a government in control.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

A loving and merciful God?

Ok, let's say that human beings were created by a direct act of a God who is omnipotent and loving. God cares about human beings, made them in His own image, and created a special place for them, which we call Planet Earth.

So what went wrong along the way? How did God overlook the fact that the planet He created for these humans was cracked and fractured and prone to generating massive earthquakes unpredictably, causing great suffering, loss of life, and laying waste the work of man's hands? Did the God not understand the basics of physics, the principles of seismology?

Did He do this deliberately, knowing that random large-scale loss of human life would be the result? Is it intended to test the faith of those humans who trust Him? Maybe make them more dependent on God (who then turns around and proves completely undependable)?

Did He just not care?

Or is the simplest answer that God did not carefully place us on this planet, and in fact God exists to the extent that human beings help and care for each other compassionately, and not to any other extent?

Where is God when the earth buckles and the sea pours over the land? The only place I can see Him (or Her) is in the brave, patient, compassionate, duty-driven actions of those who try to rescue their pets, their children, their parents grandparents, and complete strangers.