In 1897, eight-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon wrote to the New York Sun, “Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?” The reply was, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.”
Fast forward 120 years: the Santa Claus of 1897 is now the government of 2017. From the time we are born until the day we die, government is with us every step…from birth certificates to death certificates.
Official time is determined by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Government, not parents, decides where children go to school – all based on zip codes. Today’s playgrounds are vastly different from those of Baby Boomers – sliding boards and swings are smaller and merry-go-rounds and jungle gyms aren’t the same.
Government requires a multitude of licenses and certifications. When you marry, want to drive, fish, hunt, or get a dog, you need to get a license. Cars must be registered and inspected; building codes and permits are required for new construction and renovation; and commodes just don’t flush as well since Congress limited the amount of water in them.
When I meet with business professionals I’m amazed at government’s reach into every aspect of doing business. It’s why many ask if “free trade” really exists – either internationally or domestically.
Inspectors are everywhere, monitoring child care facilities, hiring, elevators, minimum wage, prevailing wages, and other government mandates. Health care is the most recent government requirement that will impact both employers and individual employees.
Contractors and other professionals need permits and licenses to do business. Food packages are filled with information that few read, and farmers even need a permit to sell raw milk.
Some government policies contradict one another. For example, we spend taxpayer moneys to attract new businesses. If and when employers come, we tax them – often times more than other states. When they say they are leaving, we often spend more tax money to entice them to stay.
The Federal Communications Commission regulates programming and the signals used. Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve attempts to manage or otherwise control the economy.
Taxes and government red tape have been cited for costing jobs and job opportunities. But, government keeps adding them. Tax policies benefit some and penalize others. Depending upon how you’re impacted, you’ll either call them a “tax shelter” or a “tax loophole.”
The New York Sun wondered “how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus . . . A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.”
I wonder what our government will look like in the future – especially since its role was to secure people’s rights and freedoms; it was never intended to be Santa.