Redstate catches an unguarded moment with Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper at a lunch earlier this week where he speaks extemporaneously and gives us a peek into what he believes the proper role of government to be. You might be surprised at just how little responsibility he feels you should take for yourself.

Government should do what people individually can’t do, or can’t do well themselves. You know, educating our young people, [emphasis added] making sure our roads are designed and built properly, making sure our communities are safe…that our economic system is robust, but at the same time fair…that every person has a fair shot at creating their own quality of life…we protect for the longterm our environment and Colorado’s natural splendor…I mean, that’s pretty much the basic…when I look at the core list…I’m sure you would all have something you would add…but that’s where it’s gets the problem.

Video at the attached link courtesy of Revealing Politics.

It’s a revealing conflation of the responsibilities we generally assign to the government and those best left to the individual. Some of the other, more mundane items on the Governor’s list are details of daily life in our society which few say are beyond the province of government at some level. Fewer still would probably care to take up these roles themselves. I don’t generally hear anyone complaining about government workers fixing the potholes in the street and bemoaning the fact that they don’t just leave the job for private citizens to handle on a volunteer basis. Law enforcement is a bit trickier proposition, but we have designed a system where those wearing the badge are under the direction of the people we elect to executive positions. How the government ensures that “our economic system is robust” is a debate for another day.

But educating our youth is probably the most volatile and dangerous assignment one could ever hand over to the government in its entirety. Our public school systems may look like a branch of the government because they are paid for by tax dollars, but this is a quite unique and far more complicated scenario. School taxes are, in large part, a very local matter. The state and federal governments stick their beaks into the pool quite handily through subsidies and attempts at regulating curriculum, but the day to day operations should have always remained rooted in parents and homeowners in each district voting on school budgets, attending school board meetings and – most importantly – supervising the education their children are receiving and helping them to succeed. I understand that the sad reality is far different, with too many modern parents treating public schools as little more than free babysitting services, but that doesn’t mean it has to work that way for everyone.

Hickenlooper’s comments are revealing if only for the mindset which leads to such comments. It seems that he believes that parents have neither the capability nor the authority to educate their children or take a direct hand in seeing that it is done properly. Harsh reality may make a point in his favor on the former, but we should still strive to ensure they retain the latter, at least for the parents who care enough to do so.