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Help Lost to the Labyrinth

Millions of Americans continue to follow the political machinations of Washington, DC. Most are tortured with a too-familiar mix of frustration with the minutia of the process, anger with the arrogance of many of the players within the system, and anxiety for much-needed action to be signed into law. And while it is true that a second round of government-led stimulus boosts for vulnerable businesses and at-risk Americans could make the difference between living on the streets or surviving, it would be foolish for us to forget that the passage of laws rarely means the guarantee of remedy in America.

After all, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution have extolled and guaranteed civil rights equality for Americans since the 18th century, and yet we continue to march, debate, fight, and evolve towards a “more perfect Union” yearly.

Before a time when the lines delineating our view of the Russians as friend or foe were blurred by pop culture politics, President Roland Reagan denoted two realities that apply clearly to our times today:

there is an Evil Empire led by those that wish to confound the sides of right and wrong in geopolitical affairs; and

very often, “…government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem…”

In 2020, we have found that government help can be a solution to a problem, and yet the nature of modern government hinders that problem from ever being resolved.

In Pennsylvania, a statewide business shutdown in March was coupled with non-transparent business waivers from a governor “…trying to be transparent…” through vetoing bipartisan calls for renewed openness in government and a broken unemployment system that left Pennsylvanians in a lurch without their jobs and benefits. Even when relief came from federal funds to remedy the woes of 2020, the opportunity for thousands was lost by the same failures of big government that oversaw some of the worst statewide economic conditions in the nation due to COVID-19.

Roughly $108 million for Pennsylvania tenants and homeowners was unclaimed – and thus, unused – by the state government in the Commonwealth due to the bureaucracy of state programs to access the funding, a recent report by PennLive and Spotlight PA noted earlier this week. CARES Act money that was made available included $150 million for renter and landlords, while another $25 million was available for mortgage assistance. And yet, due to the cumbersome nature of big government – couple with big government’s internal responses to the pandemic throughout the year – the November 30 deadline for claiming these funds passed, fading away much-needed opportunities for communities suffering some of the harshest conditions nationally.

And, according to the report, the largest kick in the gut to these struggling Pennsylvanians is the fact that the remaining amount that the state did claim will “…will be redistributed to the state’s Department of Corrections…”

Granted, some will also go towards “…payroll expenses for public safety and health care employees…” – noble and needed in many ways (e.g., those working on the front lines during this pandemic must not struggle, either). However, these funds were afforded to these heroes through the negligence of others that left families vulnerable unnecessarily and tragically.

When conservatives complain that government influence over the lives of everyday Americans has become overgrown, it is generally not about wearing masks or open-carry laws in enjoyment of the Second Amendment. Those issues are on the periphery. The items of government waste, government self-importance and self-service, and government ineptitude are aspects of everyday life in modern day America that we simply cannot afford. Each day, we find that government – from elected officials to redundant bureaucrats – often work twice as hard to defend and implement half-baked ideas of democracy and service as they do listening to their neighbors, defending the greater good more than their self-righteous opinions, and serving the growing diversity of America with a consistent patriotic love for all. The failure for equality, stability, efficiency, and transparency during 2020 from the various local, statewide, and federal leaders that have talked and acted in duplicitous and disjointed ways should highlight more than ever the need for good women and men to hold government accountable daily. Stories such as the failure to offer a hand up during a time of great need in Pennsylvania should reflect to all Americans that the basic premise of our democracy – that a lesser amount of government and a greater amount of “sweat equity” from Americans can allow resources to flow faster and better – is what we need more to survive the pandemic and endure as the geo-economic and geopolitical leader of the globe.

During these imperiled times, the more help that is needed, the more that we need the inefficiencies of big government and its bloated bureaucracy of self-indulgent complexity to get out of the way. There may be a sense of direction within the labyrinth for those with connections and affluence, but the everyday American only finds increased isolation and hopelessness in the shadows of the maze’s walls. At some point, perhaps it is time to follow another Reagan directive: tear down (the) wall(s).

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