Op-Ed: My Life, leave me alone

The Beatles, along with Billy Joel and Henry Ford, all make an appearance in this opinion column about keeping the government out of the lives of individual Americans.

I marvel at my wife’s knowledge of movies and music: She’s a formidable trivia opponent. I may know an artist’s name or a popular piece, but rarely do I associate the two. So, I was struck when I first actually listened Billy Joel’s “My Life” lyrics about a month ago:  How often I’ve thought:

I don’t care what you say anymore this is my life

Go ahead with your own life leave me alone

And you can speak your mind

But not on my time”

When she pointed me to “Revolution”. I looked up the lyrics and found the Beatles had also captured my thoughts years before they occurred to me. 

“Well, you know

We all want to change the world

But when you talk about destruction

Don’t you know that you can count me out

You say you got a real solution

Well, you know

We’d all love to see the plan…

You ask me for a contribution

Well, you know

We’re all doing what we can

But if you want money

For people with minds that hate

All I can tell is brother you have to wait

You say you’ll change the constitution

Well, you know

We all want to change your head

You tell me it’s the institution

Well, you know

You better free you mind instead

But if you go carrying pictures of chairman Mao

You ain’t going to make it with anyone anyhow”

We’ve long been plagued by demagogues (last month’s ‘Feather Merchants’) who appoint themselves the guardians of the rest of us.  These demagogues invariably preach that we can’t care for ourselves, that we are being ‘oppressed’, or that we aren’t spending our money morally. Instead, they propose, we should turn over our freedom of choice to them and they will care for us and others, protect us from oppression, and set the rules for how much wealth each of us should be allowed to accumulate and what we must do with it.  They insist the government will treat us with the fairness, compassion, empathy, and equity that our neighbors, employers, family, friends, and churches will not. Remote bureaucrats will make decisions with universal fairness and efficiency and ensure equality of outcomes for us all.   

But, before he died in 1947, Henry Ford told us: “Any man who thinks he can be happy and prosperous by letting the government take care of him better take a closer look at the American Indian.” and surely, we’ve all heard the joke about Chief Walking Eagle.  I would challenge any who doubt to ask a school teacher (but not an administrator) how much the Federal Department of Education and Common Core have improved classroom instruction. Ask a practicing physician how much the ACA, Medicare, and Medicaid have improved patient services or reduced opioid abuse.

The worst feather merchants are politicians who promise to fix our problems in exchange for just a little of our freedom and our vote to increase someone else’s taxes and confiscate their ‘excess’ wealth.  They may project confidence, sincerity, and even competence and some may even know a bit of what they preach, but the feather merchants won’t be making the decisions: Some federal or state bureaucrat will.

Ask yourself: In your experience, which of those that you’ve interacted with would you have decide what kind of house you need, what furnishings and appliances you need, what food you need, which car you need, how much gasoline or heating oil you need, or whether your child is sick enough to need a doctor?

I don’t want government “help” and I surely don’t want people who, in my estimation, are unfit to decide which side of their own toast to butter to decide my needs. Some elected officials I respect and admire but others I deplore and hold in the utmost contempt along with most bureaucrats that ordinary folks encounter. 

To them I say: This is my life: Leave me alone. Leave my neighbors alone. Leave my town alone. Leave my county alone.  Leave my employer alone. Frankly, your results “don’t impress me much.” How dare you propose to manage for me what you’ve failed to manage for yourself!

Ken Frederic is a native of Ellsworth and graduate of UMO. He and his wife, Betty Ann, retired to Maine in 2012 after 43 years as a Department of Defense consultant. They now live in Bristol and are active in the community, St. Patrick’s Church, and Republican politics.

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