Government – the Surrogate Parent

Recently I read a blog about the need for the federal government to rebrand their Uncle Sam image. Well, after watching the way government at all levels is accepting more and more responsibility for fixing everyday problems faced by Americans, I think I have a suggestion. Instead of Uncle how about Dad or Mom?

Why am I suggesting such a crazy idea? Because government is bailing Americans out of having to pay for their mortgages like a parent would help out a child who got in over their head. Because people fighting with their neighbors approach city hall to ask for help in getting along and resolving disputes like they would go to mom or dad over a fight with siblings. Because people don’t check out the rules before they make a decision to purchase homes or launch businesses and then expect city hall to sort out the mess.

Often I wonder why this is happening. Why are people turning more and more to government for help with issues and problems that in the “old days” were handled privately? Sometimes I think it might be the movement of folks away from childhood friends and family. Without a strong family or community connection perhaps people do not get the advice and help that was offered when people used to live and work in the same small town all their life. And so they turn to the only “person” who will help: the government – usually the local government. But lately the state and federal government are stepping in to help out too.

So this brings up the next question: is this what we want from our government? Obviously the people who are asking for help and receiving it must want it. But should government accept this parental position? In our city, officials seem to be accepting this responsibility more and more each year. The reason is that we care a lot about our citizens and businesses so we want them to be happy and successful. And if our citizens are doing well, the community will reflect that.

Of course there is a significant cost to all this which leads into the need to set limits on how far government steps into this parental role. With which issues and problems should the government assist and should cost be figured into the decision? And are citizens willing to pay more taxes to get this personalized care? I would be very interested in hearing from others on their feelings about this or their own experiences dealing with this issue.

In the end, I don’t think the federal government will abandon the Uncle Sam image, but maybe we can get a newly elected position at the local government level. I suggest City Mom or City Dad.