Monday, July 5, 1999

Week of 07/05/1999

The Gigolo Pledge
Government’s Favorite Line - "Trust me."
- by David Matthews 2

In the rock classic "Paradise By The Dashboard Light," Meat Loaf tries to seduce his girlfriend, who allows him to get to a certain point but stops before going "all the way." She demands a commitment from him first, to which Meat responds with the ever classic line "Well let me sleep on it, I’ll give you an answer in the morning."

When we’re young adults, we sometimes come up with some really corny lines for us to have sex. You’ve probably heard some of the corny lines.. "Don’t worry, I won’t get you pregnant." Or how about "No, nothing will happen, because I love you, and I wouldn’t do anything to hurt you like that." Or the ever classic "I’ll pull out, I promise." Or the immortal two words: "Trust me."

Trust. We consider trust to be important.

We trust banks to keep our money secure so we wouldn’t have to keep it hidden in mattresses and holes in the ground. We trust businesses when we make a purchase that the product is what they advertise. We trust teachers to educate our children so we don’t have to do it ourselves.

Then there is government….

Like everything else, government - at least in the United States - also asks that we have some trust in them. We are expected to trust them in deciding matters that are important to us, like taxes and crime.

There is just one little problem.. the United States government wasn’t really founded on trust.

Look at the Bill of Rights. The provisions in the Bill of Rights really aren’t granting the people any rights as much as they are telling the government what they CANNOT do. The First Amendment states quite clearly.. "Congress shall make no law.." The Second Amendment also makes it quite clear that its protections "shall not be infringed." These aren’t indications of any great trust in government, but rather on the knowledge that government cannot be trusted in these matters.

Look at our legal system. Our legal system is based on the notion that a person suspected of a crime is to be considered INNOCENT until proven guilty in a court of law. The prosecution.. the side representing government.. has to prove a case, not the other way around.

The American system of government was established cautiously, built on the belief that even the most well-intentioned of actions could be bastardized into something horrible for a free society. That is why the individual is often given the benefit of the doubt in the legal system, and why the Bill of Rights are designed to limit the scope of government.

And yet government continues to maintain that we should blindly put our faith in them.

Look at some of the recent laws passed by the Clinton Administration that have been challenged in court. In each case, the Clinton Administration defended vaguely-worded laws on the principle that they would only use them in an extremely specific situations. In other words, the judiciary was expected to simply take the Clinton Administration at their word… much like a young stud telling his girl "trust me, I won’t get you pregnant."

Let’s look at some examples of that trust..

President Clinton promised America a tax cut. "Trust me.." he said.

So far he has yet to deliver on that. Instead, he’s either raised taxes or he’s created new taxes (remember the Gore Tax?). Oh sure, he’s given some families new tax breaks, but he’s been about as responsive to a REAL tax cut as a cat would to a swimming pool.

Once there was an announced budget surplus, Bill Clinton promised that he would put all of that money into saving Social Security. "Trust me.." he said.

So far he hasn’t done one thing to secure that surplus money for Social Security except to talk about it. The Republicans in Congress came up with an idea for a "lock box" for the surplus money that would be earmarked for Social Security, but Clinton balked at that, and then talked about coming up with one of his own. Meanwhile, the money sits in the general fund like every other source of income. And Clinton even has a few more spending programs of his own he wants to implement! Guess where THAT money will come out of!

Let’s look at the battle over the Communications Decency Act of 1996. The CDA - part of the 96 Telecommunications Act - used vaguely-worded language to supposedly protect kids from going to adults-only web sites. The Clinton Administration’s stance on this all the way up to the floor of the US Supreme Court was only that they wouldn’t use the law blindly. "Trust me.." the administration said.

Fortunately the US Supreme Court didn’t trust them in that case. It’s hard to trust a President when he takes an oath - for a second time - to protect and defend the US Constitution and then violates it a few months later by passing and defending a blatantly unconstitutional law.

Then there’s the biggest failure of trust in Bill Clinton’s two terms: when he looked into the cameras and said "I did not have sexual relations with that woman.. Miss Lewinsky.. These allegations are FALSE." And we were expected to take his word on that. "Trust me," he insisted.

Months later he went in front of the cameras and said that, in fact, he had LIED on that day. The allegations were NOT false. They were true. Clinton had made a bold-faced LIE to the public.

Ironically, while Bill Clinton and his administration ask that we trust them, they have no such trust on the people! Clinton as even gone so far as to TELL the American public that he doesn’t trust them! When asked about giving a tax cut from the budget surplus, Clinton told a crowd in Akron, Ohio, that he doesn’t think that the American public would spend such money wisely. That is but one of many things that the president just doesn’t trust the people who elected him with.

And yet the Clinton Administration continues to say "Trust me."

Let’s get brutally honest here.. this is a gigolo pledge being invoked by the Clinton Administration. And while such a pledge may be appropriate for the kind of man Bill Clinton is in his personal life, it certainly does not serve America well to have that kind of attitude as a head of state.

If anything, the two terms of the Clinton Administration are examples of WHY the American system of government was founded on questionable trust. It may be stereotypical to say that all politicians lie, but in the case of Bill Clinton, it somehow seems quite appropriate.

That’s WHY there is a system of checks-and-balances in the American system of government.. because if both the legislature and the executive branches are dubious, then it falls to the judiciary branch to do the honorable thing. That’s why judges are, for the most part, appointed instead of elected.

You know there’s nothing wrong with having a healthy dose of mistrust in government. It allows us to spot how government’s power over the people can be abused. Our founding fathers knew that first-hand. Certainly no country that claims to value freedom should expect the people to blindly trust the government, especially when that government has little or no trust in the people it governs.

Those in government should remember that trust, like respect, must be earned. Once that trust has been lost, it is even harder to regain. Instead of demanding trust, those in government should constantly strive to earn that trust with deeds, not just empty words.

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