The Founding Fathers established guiding principles and the fundamental purposes of our system of government in the preamble of the U.S. Constitution: "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
I wonder if the Founders could have envisioned the reach of government as it now exists in the 21st Century. From the time our alarms wake us, government is present.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology determines official time. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates radio, cable and satellite television, cell phones and other elements of our vast telecommunications system. Weather forecasts are largely dependent upon the National Weather Service, a government agency.
Our homes were built using government planning with government-required permits, government codes and standards, and government zoning — generally using government approved/government-licensed contractors. Even light bulbs and the amount of water in our commodes are regulated. Some governments also require smoke detectors, sprinkler systems and carbon monoxide monitors.
Homes are bought and sold under a system of commercial laws, regulations and contract requirements. Some homes are purchased with government tax credits and/or assistance.
However, should we fail to pay taxes (i.e., property taxes) or if a public purpose is determined to trump our private property rights, we can lose our homes through tax sales or eminent domain proceedings.
Our food is inspected and approved for sale by a host of government agencies, including the U.S. and Pennsylvania Departments of Agriculture. Some foods are government-subsidized to encourage consumption while others are taxed to discourage use. A number of governments have attempted to restrict the types of food we eat and/or the quantities we consume.
Food packaging requirements (including dietary information) are also regulated by government agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Medicines not authorized by the FDA cannot be dispensed.
Children's schools are determined by zip code, not by parental choice. If you're in a school that isn't meeting your child's needs, your options are rather limited.
Government requires a license to get married and government authorization is needed to get a divorce. You also need a government-issued license to own a dog.
To drive, you need a driver's license and a government-issued vehicle registration. You also need to abide by traffic laws that include seat belt and child safety seat requirements, speed limits, driving conditions, insurance mandates and parking restrictions.
Government even impacts our leisure time: You need a license to hunt, fish and boat; plus, there are other fees and taxes as well — like amusement taxes. We even pay a "death tax."
Employers face many government mandates and requirements ranging from hiring practices to work conditions and leave requirements. Government-mandated permits and insurance are required to start and keep a business open. Some government research and government programs compete with private enterprises.
Government inspectors certify, inspect and regulate things like gas pumps, weights and measures, and meters and scales. It's not official without a government sticker.
The biggest national debate has been — and continues to be — governments' role in healthcare. There are a myriad of requirements on healthcare providers and a host of government-run and government-paid programs.
Government is now an integral part of our economy through laws, regulations, policies and practices that both fill and require volumes of paperwork and reporting. Some requirements focus more on social issues rather than economics. Failure to comply can result in prosecution by government lawyers and government agencies. Meanwhile, government miscalculations can cause economic failures, resulting in businesses going under, jobs lost, and investments ruined.
By the time we go to bed at the end of the day, we've been impacted by some government: federal, state, local. It's all but impossible to avoid the reach of government.
To me, government should focus on respect for the Constitution, respect for life, personal responsibility, and less government.
— State Sen, Mike Folmer is a Republican representing the 48th District, which includes parts of York County.