Friday, February 06, 2009

Last Word

How much more can be written about the proposed tax increase on tobacco in Arkansas? Once this measure passed the state House, I was tempted to simply give in and stop worrying about it. It is clear that Democrats in this state legislature believe it is the government’s task to save us from ourselves, and it seems clearer still that too many Republicans would rather go along than to stand up for a clear political philosophy that distinguishes one party from the other. It is not a matter of being “obstructionist”, as the accusations go, but it must necessarily be a distinction that holds firm to the premise that there is only so much government can do and that no matter how much government takes from a staggering economy, ostensibly to “help” us, they still cannot save us from ourselves.

Trauma is trauma, wounds resulting from, more often than not, avoidable accidents that will continue to occur, some still resulting in death, in spite of a government decree to the contrary or even the greatest trauma system on the face of the planet. We still cannot help but to drive drunk, or drive too fast for conditions, or apply makeup while driving, or talk on cell phones while driving, or fail to take all precautionary measures as “bothersome” before undertaking a dangerous job. And let us not forget that drug dealers will still shoot other drug dealers, and anyone else for that matter, if things don’t go the way they expect them to go.

None of this is to say that we cannot take reasonable action to enforce safety measures, and none of this is to say that we simply write trauma victims off as deserving of whatever befalls them as the result of their carelessness or neglect.

Still, people die. It is an incontrovertible reality that mortal humans are faced with every single day. No government spending program, no tax increase, no bureaucratic mandate will change this. We as individuals can take reasonable measures and precautions to avoid dangerous situations and we as individuals can take responsibility for our own health situations, but we cannot avoid death. It is not even reasonable to suggest that we can delay death because we do not know when or where or even how our lives will end. This is well outside our realm.

Let us be more reasonable about what we ask and expect of our government. Let us be mindful of the current environment in which normal citizens have stopped spending money out of fear and uncertainty about tomorrow, and let us demand of our government that they, too, be mindful of certain realities. Our Arkansas legislature gave itself a raise, secure in the knowledge that in two years when they are up for reelection, they will be either termed out of office or we will have long forgotten.

Let us, finally, be mindful that we are not only responsible for our individual choices, but we are also responsible for the members of the legislature. We put them there, and we can take them out. They work in our behalf, and they need to be reminded of this absolute. No more incumbents; no more lifetime, career politicians.

Now give me a minute while I hold my breath till this all comes to pass.

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