Green Room

The Sweetness of Doing Nothing

posted at 2:39 pm on March 16, 2010 by

Have you had enough yet?  Enough of activist government that, in Michelle Obama’s deathless words,

…will require you to work.  [Is] going to demand that you shed your cynicism. That you put down your divisions. That you come out of your isolation, that you move out of your comfort zones. That you push yourselves to be better. And that you engage.  [That] will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual, uninvolved, uninformed…

… ??  Had enough? Hmmm?

In the same week that the Democratic Congress is blatantly plotting to force through – on a parliamentary maneuver – epically unpopular legislation that would transform America irreversibly for the worse, what’s arriving in our mailboxes?  The Barack Obama Cynicism-Shedding, Division-Putting-Down, Isolation-Coming-Out-Of, Comfort-Zone-Departing, Full-Frontal-Engagement 2010 United States Census.  This is the Census in which we spill our guts to the federal government.  Almost literally:  we might as well have a full-body scan of our lives and FedEx it off to Uncle Sam.

I don’t know about you, but I feel extra-specially abused by the federal government this week.  The most intrusive Census questionnaire of my life so far (what is it they’re going to do with this information?) arrives just when Democrats in Congress are unapologetically planning to fix it so they can jerk me around by controlling a much larger percentage of my own earnings for the rest of my life.  Which could well be shorter than it would otherwise, what with the Democrats’ plan to “cut costs” by spending less on medical care for the old.

This, folks, is what it looks like when government is doing too much.  Government is too big.  Some of us have been pointing this out for decades, but I think more and more of the Americans who don’t pay much attention, as long as their lives don’t have to change too much, are now waking up and realizing that government has gotten big enough to actually fulfill Michelle Obama’s promise:  to actually change our lives.

The truth is, Americans don’t want government to change our lives.  Government that does less is what more and more people are realizing we need.  We don’t want government that’s big enough to force us to buy health insurance – or to make lesser and cheaper medical treatments the “norm” in order to save “society’s” resources.  We don’t want government that thinks it has some reason to care how many rooms there are in our homes, and how they are heated and cooled.  We don’t want government that’s big enough to force talk radio, TV, or internet content into a state-approved homeostasis between “left” and “right.”  We don’t want government that can kill our jobs by making it too expensive to employ us.  We certainly don’t want government that employs members of a thuggish service employees’ union and caters to their demands – demands that can only be satisfied by confiscating more and more from the private sector’s producers: those to whom the same union employees display a surly and unhelpful demeanor when the taxpayers have the misfortune to need to do business with the government.

The ugly face of big government is plastered across every facet and every communication medium of modern life, here in 2010.  What we need to realize is that it isn’t possible to have big government that looks and acts any other way.  This is it:  this is what activist government – government that won’t let us go back to our lives as usual – looks like.  The time has come for government to stop “fixing” things.

There is nothing that would be as salubrious between now and January 2013 as a big Timeout.  Government at an unbreakable standoff – a Republican Congress, a lame-duck Obama in the White House – is just about the best thing that could happen to us.  I would prefer to see Congress gut what it can of the Obama agenda enacted so far (we’ll find out soon if that includes nationalized health care), by hitting the executive agencies right in the budget.  But I’d settle for just not making it worse, until we can get a new president into the Oval Office.

Just STOP.  Stop with the tinkering, the regulating, the spending, the constituency-tending.  Stop with the legislation so intricate, comprehensive, and intrusive that it’s necessary to prohibit over here what was implied or made inevitable over there – or vice versa.  Stop with adding to the debt.  Stop with making dozens of changes to the tax code every single year!  Stop with haranguing the people about problems that aren’t at the top of their list – that aren’t even necessarily problems, much less problems government ought to somehow address – in order to justify bigger and bigger government.

We’re at the impasse now, and there’s no more wiggle room, no more room to compromise.  We can’t sell any more of our lives to nanny-state activists for a little peace.  They never leave us in peace, you know.  The more we sell them, the more they want.  We can’t afford to cede any more of our lives to their “supervision.”  This is the precipice, right here.  This is the place where if we take one more step in the same direction, we can never go back to our lives as usual.

The future will be there, absent the Apocalypse, for us to seek a government that can “get things done” – that is, roll back bad regulation, reduce taxes, put itself on a radical weight-loss program.  We need to do this, but I won’t feel betrayed or discouraged if it doesn’t start right away.  Government not constantly changing the rules would be the biggest blessing at this point.  The time will be there to apply energy to government again, if we can rein Obama in on his career of slingshotting us over the cliff.  For now, this taxpayer’s instructions to government are:

Sit down, shut up, and STOP.

Cross-posted at The Optimistic Conservative.

Recently in the Green Room:



Trackback URL


I was surprised by how little the Census actually asked. It was basically name, age, and race (I wrote in “American”) of everybody in the household. I expected lots of questions about profession, income, religion, etc, but there weren’t any. I finished the whole form in two minutes.

joe_doufu on March 16, 2010 at 2:53 PM

The fact is Government always grows until The People put a stop to it.

Here is an example of Big Government that is typical of our direction:

Does anybody out there have any memory of the reason given for the establishment of the DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY During the Carter Administration?

Bottom line …We’ve spent several hundred billion dollars in support of an agency …the reason for which, and at the time everybody thought was very appropriate…

The ‘Department of Energy’ was instituted on 8-04-1977 TO LESSEN OUR DEPENDENCE ON FOREIGN OIL.



Opposite Day on March 16, 2010 at 3:04 PM

Good example, Opposite Day. I quite agree with you: government’s nature is to grow. The Founders knew that, which is why they hedged ours about with so many checks and balances.

The day Americans get over thinking — erroneously — that our attitude toward government has changed in some way the Founders didn’t envision or imagine — that’ll be a day of hope and glory.

There’s nothing new under the sun, and there’s definitely nothing new when it comes to what factions want out of government. What’s going on with government in America today is precisely what the Founders hoped to avert. The Department of Energy is one of many excellent examples of that.

J.E. Dyer on March 16, 2010 at 3:23 PM

Its nothing !

macncheez on March 16, 2010 at 3:54 PM

In a sense, you cannot blame government for growing and growing, as it is their nature. If two aspirin help your headache, four ought to do it quicker and better. A larger part of the blame lies with the people.

The owner of a $400,000 house does not want a $60,000 house built next door, nor an unkempt yard, nor a purple color scheme. He does not want you fixing other people’s cars in the driveway, or making noise, or posting big signs in the yard. So the owner will (successfully) agitate for laws to keep you from doing any of this.

Another large segment of people are just plain afraid that someone, somewhere is having more fun than they are. From this fear came Prohibition, and all of the cousins of it before and ever since.

Then there is the illusion that we will all be safe if we can come up with the right set of rules for that. Columbines still happen, but a 6 year old is suspended for making a ‘hand’ gun or bringing a plastic knife to school.

So every time you open your mouth to say “there ought to be a law”, stop and think instead. Because you are likely contributing to the problem.

/rant mode off, and nice article JE

GnuBreed on March 17, 2010 at 1:29 AM

Wow, J.E.D. And I thought it was just me. Kidding.

I guess you don’t remember the 1990 census? About 15-18 pages if memory serves. I filled out something like name, rank and serial number and left the rest blank. They sent a “supervisor” to my home on a Saturday morning to play enforcer. After listening to her pleas and, hmmm, shall we say, intimidation, for a few minutes, I pointed out a copy of the US Constitution framed behind the seat in which she sat. I “educated” her for about 3 minutes. She left with a couple of Articles penciled onto her form. I never heard from her again.

Felt good.

Robert17 on March 17, 2010 at 6:34 AM

Brilliant piece. I agree with every word.

Venusian Visitor on March 17, 2010 at 10:06 AM

If you saw Atlas, the giant who holds the world on his shoulders, if you saw that he stood, blood running down his chest, his knees buckling, his arms trembling but still trying to hold the world aloft with the last of his strength, and the greater his effort the heavier the world bore down on his shoulders—what would you tell him to do?” ” To Shrug.”

It should be plain at this point that what we once knew as the greatest demonstration of governance the world has ever seen has now sunk to the depths occupied by the worst of the third world despotic regimes. Can the other depraved aspects of tyranny be far in the future?

If you were to ask the average Russian prior to 1900 if they ever imagined the horrors of Lenin and Stalin could come to pass? The same of the Germans in the late 1920’s? Those are but two examples of what must be hundreds throughout history.

It is time to stop our tacit approval, through taxation, in this madness. It is illegal to avoid taxation, yet it is not illegal to withhold production that leads to taxation. In other words, or the words of Ayn Rand, it is time to shrug.

turfmann on March 17, 2010 at 10:15 AM

At census training

Too many questions

blatantblue on March 17, 2010 at 10:31 AM

Most people will receive the short census form. But about 3 million households per year will receive the American Community Survey. This is 21 pages long and asks invasive questions, including questions about your income, the number of bathrooms in your home, whether you or family members suffer from mental illness, and when you leave for work.

From Wisegeek: “The American Community Survey (ACS) is a 21-page questionnaire generated by the US Department of Commerce under the auspices of the US Census Bureau. Funded by tax dollars, the lengthy questionnaire is mailed to 2% of the US population annually. The ACS has been criticized by many recipients due to its highly invasive questions, mandatory language regarding compliance threatening steep fines, and the dogged follow-up tactics often used by Census Bureau representatives to obtain completed forms.”

Cara C on March 17, 2010 at 10:33 AM

It is time to stop our tacit approval, through taxation, in this madness. It is illegal to avoid taxation, yet it is not illegal to withhold production that leads to taxation. In other words, or the words of Ayn Rand, it is time to shrug.

turfmann on March 17, 2010 at 10:15 AM

Perhaps we need to debate the possibilities that a nationwide strike could afford as the next step as the “voice of the people” to our “ruling class”. (ruling class? even the fact that that phrase is in our lexicon is scary)

johng on March 17, 2010 at 10:42 AM

I have information on the census, I need to send Ed. I’ve sent it to Glenn, Breitbart, and my local congresscritter. It’s not pretty.

bikermailman on March 17, 2010 at 11:04 AM

is mailed to 2% of the US population annually.

Cara C on March 17, 2010 at 10:33 AM

Let’s just say that on the long form, it’s a lot more than two percent, and not exactly random.

bikermailman on March 17, 2010 at 11:08 AM

I actually take issue with the terminology of the government doing “too much”. The rejoinder to that is always that we don’t want any laws at all; want murder to be legal, etc.

There are some things the government is supposed to do. Take border security, for instance. In that case, it isn’t doing enough.

No, the problem is that the government, instead of doing its job to secure our rights, is actively violating them.

The Monster on March 17, 2010 at 11:18 AM

Although I take your point, Monster, I have to disagree with it. Government is, in fact, doing way too much. It should of course be enforcing our immigration and border security laws better, but I wouldn’t be at all satisfied if the only change in government’s activism were improving its performance in that area.

Your argument seems to me like saying that if someone is eating a whole lot of pancakes, cream pie, and chocolate cake, but no green vegetables, his real problem is that he’s not eating enough green veggies. He needs to eat the green veg, sure, but he also needs to cut down on the sugar and fat.

J.E. Dyer on March 17, 2010 at 12:13 PM

No, the problem is that the government, instead of doing its job to secure our rights, is actively violating them.

The Monster on March 17, 2010 at 11:18 AM

Correct. It’s not an issue of ‘too much’ and ‘too little.’ It’s an issue of the proper, limited function of government.

This is why most people, like myself, don’t mind a large military budget, although we could debate the proper use of the military and the proper allocation of the resources. I don’t mind limited taxes to fund military. However, I do mind even a ‘little’ tax being taken to fund something that isn’t the proper function of government.

j_galt on March 17, 2010 at 12:14 PM

I received the short census form but what I thought was ludicrous was the cover letter which explained, “Your answers are important.”.….”The amount of money your neighborhood receives also depends on these answers. That money is used for children and the elderly, roads and many other local needs.”
So we send our taxes to the government where the huge bureaucratic machine takes a big bite out of it to pay a bunch of overpaid employees. It then sends some of what is left back to my neighborhood to pay for local needs based on information it collect every ten years.
Does that seem like an efficient way to take care of kids and elderly people and other local needs? ?
I got a novel idea! How about the Feds leave us more of our own money and we take care of our own “local” needs locally where we know what we need.
But then, how could they control us? My bad! I forgot.

bindare on March 17, 2010 at 1:08 PM

HotAir — Politics, Culture, Media, 2017, Breaking News from a conservative viewpoint
Top Pick

Will they stay or will they go?

Top Pick

I can’t imagine what I was thinking when I said that

Rocking the boat majorly

Big government never contracts. It only grows more powerful

It’s only a “ban” until it becomes inconvenient

The decline and fall of Obamacare and the AHCA

Jazz Shaw Jun 24, 2017 8:31 AM

This was all over before it began

Fixing crime in America is a complicated issue

Taylor Millard Jun 23, 2017 8:31 PM

Cops alone won’t solve it.

Victim’s father was President Maduro’s supervisor back when he was a bus driver.

Democrats forgot all about the “era of good feelings”

“Bernie and Jane Sanders have lawyered up.”

“the Judiciary Committee is examining the circumstances surrounding the removal of James Comey.”

Winning isn’t everything. It is the only thing

Trump signs VA reform bill into law

John Sexton Jun 23, 2017 2:41 PM

“What happened was a national disgrace, and yet some of the employees involved in these scandals remained on the payrolls.”

A new era of something.

“…died suddenly in less than a week just after his return to the U.S.”

The shortsightedness of “Denounce and Preserve”

Taylor Millard Jun 23, 2017 12:11 PM

Pragmatism for the sake of pragmatism doesn’t always work.

Perhaps if you threw in a new car?

Gay marriages still growing, but not as fast

Andrew Malcolm Jun 23, 2017 10:31 AM

More, but not as quickly.

Should’ve stuck with the pirate gig. It was working for him

The battle for the rubble of Raqqa is underway

Andrew Malcolm Jun 23, 2017 8:51 AM

Won’t be much left.

Your list of demands is a publicity stunt

“what happened that day was emblematic of a deeply troubling trend among progressives…”

“The jobs are still leaving. Nothing has stopped.”

Bad vendor. Bad! No cookie!

“The Corps is just starting to grapple with the issues the court has identified.”

“So you want me to sing my praises, is that what you’re saying?”

Why would we possibly want that?

“I mean he sold our country to The Russians.”

I could think of someone else you might want to ask about…

“You can ask a hundred people what hate speech is and you get a thousand different answers”

Trump: I never made any recordings of Comey

Allahpundit Jun 22, 2017 2:01 PM


Hackers stole private data from election databases

John Sexton Jun 22, 2017 1:21 PM

“90,000 records stolen by Russian state actors contained drivers license numbers”

Failure to protect the city

Big man on the Middle Eastern campus