Bureaucratic foolishness

A recent series of tornadoes devastated the Arkansas town of Dumas. Businesses and homes were destroyed en masse and the people are in dire need of assistance. We have been conditioned to look to our federal government in situations as this — the idea going something like this:

Americans pay taxes to the federal government and in exchange the federal government will provide needed services. The federal government will establish agencies to meet all manner of needs and, when those needs arise, will gallop heroically to the rescue.

Ask the people of Dumas, Arkansas how that’s working out for them.

They need help and this benevolent federal government has hundreds of mobile homes a mere 166 miles away in Hope, Arkansas — where they sit idle because someone, somewhere didn’t fill out a form in triplicate (or whatever). Arkansas Senator Mark Pryor is trying to get something done about it but, being conditioned to look to the government for help, he is having little success.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this out — let me take a stab at it…crushbox.jpg

Being from Arkansas I happen to know that guys with trucks equipped with trailer hitches are a dime a dozen. I also happen to know that it’s a pretty easy drive from Hope to Dumas (see directions here). Why not ask a bunch of guys with trucks to start towing the trailers to Dumas. Arkansans are a charitable bunch and more than willing to help out in an emergency (that’s why in Arkansas, if you hit the ditch during an ice storm, just wait a bit. It shouldn’t be too long before three guys in a four-wheel-drive show up with a logging chain ready to pull you out. But I digress).

In the time it has taken the federal government to argue over procedures, a bunch of guys in their trucks could have moved a lot of these trailers to Dumas — and the people there could have shelter. Instead, because of our conditioning to look to government for help, we’re still waiting for FEMA to do something.

It may be true that two heads are better than one. But, put too many heads together, give them impressive-sounding government titles, and you’ve reached a point of diminishing returns. All of a sudden everyone has checked their brain at the door and insists that decisions are routed through “proper channels” because the manual says so. That’s how we end up with the REALITY of trusting the federal government to help us. Which goes like this:

The federal government confiscates our money in the form of taxes to establish their bureaucracies (under the guise of “doing it for our own good”). Then, when disaster strikes we have to fill out an application and ask “pretty please” in order to get OUR OWN MONEY back in order to meet our needs. But the federal government may or may not give that money back based on THEIR determination of whether or not our need is legitimate.

My solution? Stop sending our money away. If we never send it away we don’t have to ask for it back. That way WE are the ones who determine when our needs are legitimate — NOT some Washington bureaucrat.

Of course, this is easier said than done. As I pointed out earlier, we have become conditioned to viewing the state as savior. It’s a notion we need to reject.

The government is ill equipped to play the role of savior and we are foolish to look to government when we need one. Oh, I’m not surprised when a lost and dying world looks to government for a savior — without Christ they are apt to look to anything for salvation. But Christians certainly should recognize that God has not gifted the state to act on His behalf in matters of grace. This He has done for the Church.

We already have a savior. We just need to be clear about who he is.

About Chip
Chip is a graduate of Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, AR and Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in Memphis, TN. He served more than five years on the staff of the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana as Director of Communications and Public Relations, editor of the Indiana Baptist newsjournal, and regular contributor to the Baptist Press, the official news service of the Southern Baptist Convention. He currently earns his living as a writer. He serves his local church as a teacher and deacon and his local Baptist Association as a Seminary Extension instructor and supply preacher.

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