Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Government-enforced elitism

As a card-carrying member of this country's intellectual elite, I chafe at the elitism of government. "We know what's best, so we're going to tell you what you can or cannot do; and we're going to take your money because we know best how to spend it." I understand that we live in a representative democracy. Approximately one-fifth of the citizenry are too illiterate to fill out a cheque; a similar number are functioning alcoholics. It's probably a good idea for public officials to have some semblance of intelligence. Unfortunately many of these same public officials let their intelligence go to their head.

This may be a recurring theme here. I'd like to focus briefly on three items that come to mind:

1. Handgun restrictions and bans. In my opinion, handgun bans are advocated for and passed by people who live in safe neighborhoods and can afford monthly ADT bills specifically to limit the ability of people who live in dangerous neighborhoods to defend themselves. The concept is idealistic--wouldn't it be great if America were gun-free?--but in the end, only helps criminals prey on defenseless victims.

2. Taxpayer-funded museums. It costs about $100 to take a family of four to Shedd Aquarium, the Art Institute, or the Field Museum of Natural History. Most families cannot afford that; or if they can, it's a very big deal and a significant portion of their fun fund. Yet these institutions inhale taxpayer money to the tune of the deep six figures each year. They receive support from the city, the state and the federal government so the privileged few can enjoy them. To me, this is outrageous. These institutions have ready access to millions in major-donor gifts and foundation grants. I think we should yank their public funding and make them private institutions. Then they may charge what they want, and those willing to pay may do so.

3. Taxpayer-funded media. With the infinite internet and thousand-channel cable television, our media choices are boundless. Yet the taxpayers are supposed to support PBS, National Public Radio and classical music radio? Why? Why should Joe Lunchbucket, who works 50 hours a week to feed his family, pay taxes to support institutions largely enjoyed by the high-income intellectual elite? How do these media outlets benefit him? They don't. It's the governmental elite telling Joe that his tax money is better off being spent on these media outlets rather than on his kids' shoes.

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