The government is not your mother


Why does the phrase "Mom said" have such magic growing up? It's why many of us didn't snack before meals, swallow gum or crack our knuckles. It's also why we fed a cold and starved a fever, ate our vegetables and wore clean underwear. Apparently, "Mom said" both saved and improved our lives.

This sense of security and well-being may be why some push for more and more government involvement in our lives. There are calls for government to require certain things, like: having health care coverage, saving energy and paying our "fair share" in taxes. Others want government to forbid specified actions, such as: consuming sugary drinks, eating various foods and smoking in designated places. Government has more power to impose sanctions — both positive and negative — than any other entity in our lives.

"Sanction" comes from the Latin sanctio, meaning "a law or decree that is sacred or inviolable." According to the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, few words have contradictory meanings like the word "sanction," which can mean both "to allow, encourage" and "to punish so as to deter." The question is when government imposes sanctions, what does it mean for "We the People"?

Consider the impacts of government involvement in: the economy, health care, education, energy and the wars on drugs and poverty. A host of laws, regulations, and trillions of dollars spent, yet we have continuing — and often heated — debates on these issues. The key issue is: Are we better off because of — or in spite of — government involvement?

All I know is that as government has grown, so have entitlement programs — both federal and state. Each seems to have a common element: The promises far exceed reality, and the costs are underestimated and/or underfunded. Once enacted, they never disappear; entitlements' costs continue to rise as taxes and/or borrowing are also ever escalating to cover these unrelenting cost drivers.

Placing government in the role of our parents says elected officials and government bureaucracy know more about how to live our lives, manage our health and raise our kids than we do.

Maybe we should heed to words of former President Ronald Reagan: "Government exists to protect us from each other. Where government has gone beyond its limits is in deciding to protect us from ourselves."

Mom said!

— State Sen. Mike Folmer is a Republican representing Pennsylvania's 48th District, which includes a portion of York County.