Say what you will about the fabled “low-information voters,” but we should probably be more concerned about the low-information State that rules them. I’m actually something of an apologist for low-information voters, because an extensive study of politics should not be necessary to live a successful American life. But conversely, a huge government cannot function effectively without amassing a great deal of information about its citizens. A powerful State cannot also be a low-information State.
A common thread running through tales of billion-dollar government waste and abuse is that much of it seems incredibly silly, and should have been far easier to detect and prevent. And our officials constantly offer ignorance as an excuse for incompetence. This is acutely obvious in the comprehensive immigration reform debate, which follows a massive failure of intelligence on the part of the government, stretching over many years.
For example, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel brings us the story of Jose Munoz, who is one of those eager young high-achieving “Dreamers” we hear about so often when the amnesty for illegal aliens is discussed. Munoz’ high achievements come from playing video games:
“I wanted to go to school, but if I got a degree from a college or technical school, how would I get a job without citizenship?” he said. “I was scared. I was frozen. I didn’t know what to do.”
So he helped his family around the house, cut the grass, shoveled snow and baby-sat his little brother. And he would play sports video games – a lot. While the video games were a way of whiling away the hours, little did he know that the record of his purchases and video activity would help provide the documentation he needed to work and go to school legally in this country.
“I was just vegging, but I was bored and getting depressed,” he said. “It was upsetting because I couldn’t do what I wanted to do. I was sick of it. I was waiting around hoping something would happen.”
Then last summer, President Barack Obama announced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals for those in situations just like Muñoz’s – people who came here before they were 16 and were under 31 on June 15, 2012.
For those qualified, deferred action allows them to remain in the country for two years and work and go to school without fear of deportation. It’s renewable after two years.
“I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “I was shocked. I thought now I have a chance.”
He didn’t have any documentation to demonstrate residency from 2007 forward, such as work records, medical records, or rent receipts. But he did have plenty of video game downloads and achievements logged with Xbox Live, and that proved good enough for Obama’s “delayed action” program.
I bring this up not to slam Mr. Munoz, who has since obtained a driver’s license and found work a local factory and restaurant, leaving him too “crazy busy” to play video games like he used to. This is a slam at the government that couldn’t find any other way to keep tabs on him. And it’s not just immigration where official ignorance reaches astonishing levels. That’s just a high-profile example of the fatal flaw in the statist philosophy.
All of these Big Government programs assume a high degree of knowledge and good judgment on the part of the government. Power exercised in the absence of information is like a blindfolded giant staggering across the landscape with a club in his hands. We are constantly told Washington, D.C. houses central planners who are smarter and better-informed than any private corporation or free citizen. Without even bringing the Constitutional limits on government power into the discussion, it’s obvious that if we are to concede the State power over our lives, for our own good, then we must accept that it knows what is best for us.
But we are surrounded by mountains of evidence that the central State has no idea what’s going on across America. It has no clue what it’s doing. Ideology blinds it to contrary evidence, sure, but it’s also remarkable how little effort it puts into collecting that evidence.
The now-infamous Lifeline program – more commonly, but incorrectly, referred to as the “Obamaphone,” although the program predates Obama’s election by many years – is a $2.2 billion welfare package riddled with a billion dollars in fraud. Only last year did it occur to anyone in our titanic government to investigate the ballooning cost of Lifeline… only to discover that it was essentially running on the honor system, and once a beneficiary pinky-swore that he qualified for a “free” cell phone, he was basically in the program for life. When tighter standards were applied, it was discovered that over forty percent of the program beneficiaries were either ineligible, or didn’t bother to respond to questions about their eligibility. And there was plenty of questionable corporate activity among the program’s cell-phone providers, too.
Can you remember a single election cycle in which politicians didn’t loudly promise to crack down on waste, fraud, and abuse in massive government programs? But it never actually happens. Everyone’s Medicare and Medicaid “reform” proposals include hundred-billion-dollar estimates of all the “savings” they’ll get from cracking down on fraud, but nobody ever seems to get cracking. We’re still waiting for a decent explanation of how all those crazy green-energy loans managed to solyndra their way past layers of checks and balances. Nobody knows what happened on the night of the Benghazi attack, or during the bloody months of Operation Fast and Furious. ObamaCare is a constant string of nasty surprises and stunned expressions on the faces of those who voted for it without reading it. The government can’t even validate the integrity of the ballots cast in our elections without collapsing in a politically-correct seizure.
I’m calling B.S. on the whole Big Government enterprise, using the illegal immigration crisis as Exhibit A. Washington is going to run 300 million health care plans, but it can’t figure out how 11 million illegal aliens got into the country, or where they all are? Our friends on the Left do not have anywhere near the knowledge required to wield the power they demand. And we really wouldn’t want them to have that level of knowledge about us, because we value our privacy: the things government is not allowed to know about us, the questions it is not allowed to ask.