The Sublette County Journal
Volume 4, Number 45 - 6/29/00
brought to you online by Pinedale Online
Platitudes such as "The proper role of government is to serve only those critical functions as companies and individuals cannot" may seem profound to those with poor critical thinking skills, but to others they have the hollow ring of dogma, adhered to only by those void of initiative and seeking to dodge responsibility.
There are two flaws in this theory of government. First of all, almost any conceivable governmental function has, at one time or another, been performed in the private sector. Mercenaries have fought many of history's great wars. The Raj was founded not by the English Government, but by the British East India Company. Private police forces operate in most affluent urban communities, and private roads and postal services have proven viable in many places. If government served only those roles that companies and individuals cannot, then there is no role for government at all and we will have substituted profitability for accountability as the motivating force. Secondly, voters are, I believe, individuals. We cast secret ballots in a non-coercive environment. We vote for representatives to do a job for us. Therefore, governmental action is an expression of individual will. The recent electoral decision to keep the Rural Health Care Board is a perfect example. This function can, theoretically, be carried on by the private sector, but we the voters chose the Board as our means to do it. Sadly, and typically of our local governments, they are sitting on their hands while a major issue, in this case quality EMT service, requires action.
I began this short series of articles with a call for action from our local governments that would represent a break with their history, and I feel it is necessary to end this series by renewing that call. I recently went by the High School and jotted down the names of several (but not all) of the Valedictorians and Salutatorians from the past 20 years. These are the best and the brightest that our schools have produced. I then looked for those names in the local phone book and found none listed. Granted, some may be under married names, or unlisted, but where are the Gosars, the Kellys and all the others? They are in other places pursuing opportunities not available in Pinedale.
This brain drain will have serious impacts on our community. Many complain that we are becoming a retirement and tourist community, but by our passivity we are doing everything possible to encourage it. This is a direct result of years of supine and myopic rule by the Cult of the Negative. Barney Frank once made the observation that Newt Gingrich believed that life began at conception and ended at birth. I have the same impression of our local governments. After high school they feel our obligation has been met and so do no more. Rather than violate a platitude, they allow the most vigorous and vital element of our community to drift off. With imagination and investments in communication infrastructure, formation of pools of business seed capital, and other acts of creativity we could encourage our children to stay here, start businesses and raise their families. Instead, they go to Lander to practice law, Denver to start ad agencies, and California to work in the software industry, while we sit here eating our cheeseburgers complaining that something, be it a work of art, an initiative, or an idea, is different. I hope that during the upcoming election campaigns that some candidate will have a platform based on vision and what he is for, rather that what he will oppose, and that this candidate will find strong support among the voters.
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