Diary

Blogging the Right Thing: "The Best Government of All"

We continue to blog through Mike Huckabee’s, “Do the Right Thing.” Chapter 2 mentions no other candidate or campaign. It’s entitled, “The Best Government of All.”

Those who’ve heard Huckabee’s “Hucktown” speech will find this chapter quite familiar as Huckabee lays out his case that the best government is self-government.

Writes Huckabee, “If we want less civil governemnt (as conservatives desire) or more civil liberties (as liberals desire), the answer is having more civil people who govern themselves by living their lives according to the moral code of behavior that asserts it is unacceptable to lie, steal, cheat, hurt, disrespect, or murder another person.”

Huckabee then goes into his “Hucktown” comparison. Contrasting one town where people show personal responsibility`and another where they don’t. Low Divorce rate, high graduation rate, honest businesses, clean streets, and a low crime rate keep “Hucktown” government at a minimum. While “Yourtown” is the opposite and has high government spending.

Huckabee points out that the ultimate solution for Yourtown is not increasing government programs and services as that will drive businesses and residents out of town and lead to an economic collapse or issuing big cuts in school spending, police, or trash collection which would leave the place less attractive to business, but rather be for the citizens of Yourtown to excercise personal personal responsibility.

Now, it can be rightly pointed out that there are probably some innovative things that Yourtown could do such as starting Yourtown Charter School or outsourcing trash collection to an innovative new company started over in Gatestown, but ultimately the cost of societal decline will eventually drag Yourtown down.

Some of the more interesting stats Huckabee mentions include this: “Children born out of Wedlock are 700 percent more likely to be poor than those is stable two-parent homes. Eighty-eight of unwed mothers without a high school diploma will end up in poverty, but only 8 percent of with a high school diploma, who marry, and their first child after the age of twenty will end up in poverity. It would seem logical that if we were really serious about lessening the horrible impact of poverty upon others, we would strive to do all we can to get an education; get married; and remain in a stable, loving, monogamous relationship; and have children in the context of a strong family.”

There is a counterpoint raised by Steve Schippert:

Let’s turn Huck’s words around in a more logical order. Has this supposed fiscal conservative ever stopped to consider that “the breakdown of family and individual responsibility” is “directly related to” many of the bloated programs that make up “a lot of the cost of government”? Has he looked at the inner cities – or depressed rural areas for that matter – and wondered just how much government subsidizing of single parenthood has contributed to the breakdown of families? It’s not the only cause, to be sure. But it is more of a contributor than a cure.

Schippert raises a point. The way the well-intended Aide to Family with Dependent Children worked, it created peverse insentives to have out of wedlock pregnancy. Also much of the welfare structure led to some of the mutual aide societies people used to rely on ceasing to exist. Welfare reform alleviated the “Welfare Queen” situation, but it has yet to change our society’s mores. Government programs can cause problems, but eliminating government programs can’t necessarily get rid of the problems government created. Can a culture in decline have a limited government, history would suggest no.

Huckabee also writes of being Governor at the time of the Jonesboro shooting and the outrage that occurred when it was found out the killer would be released on their eighteenth birthday because no one in Arkansas history had imagined children as young as eleven would be mass murderers.

Huckabee also had a very interesting section that did touch on the prison issue and a paradox he faced with a prison population that had increased from 8,000 to 14,000 while he was in office, leeading to a $220 million prison budget. He wrote, “Interestingly, some of my conservative brethern thought we should lock more people up, keep them longer, eliminate parole and clemency, and yet cut the budget to the prison system at the same time. Even without a math degre, I understood those numbers just don’t add up.”

The bad thing about this chapter is that it ends with an anecdote that just doesn’t seem to fit it (it must have been a favorite memoryy) so a strong chapter had a bit of a flat ending.