“The most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’”
– President Ronald Reagan
President Reagan’s famous words come to mind as we grieve and pray for our southeast Missouri neighbors suffering at the hands of floodwaters ravaging their homes and farms.
When the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers detonated tons of explosives at the Birds Point levee sending water from the mighty Mississippi River gushing onto 128,000 acres of Mississippi County farmland, including about 100 homes and 10 churches, it marked a sad day in the history of Missouri and our nation. The government, with its grand schemes, has caused much of their misery and I fear will only add to it as they try to recover. Our liberal friends extoll the virtues of an activist government to bring about “social justice” whenever they perceive an injustice to occur. Where are they now for the poor people who lost their farms and homes around the Birds Point levee? The Kansas City Star, for example, lamented the destruction of the levee, but concluded it was just tough luck for the residents. Now, their battle cry is, “Government aid is on the way!” Gov. Jay Nixon, who tried to stop the Birds Point levee from being blown to smithereens, and the Obama administration have promised help.
Well, forgive me if I’m more than a little skeptical about whether the government will make good on such promises – especially a government that is $16 trillion in debt. Should we really expect anyone or any entity – paying 43 cents on every dollar just to make interest payments on debt – to come through with financial help? If you do, I have some ocean-front property in Arizona for sale. Our federal government has a serious stewardship problem. In trying to be a socialistic answer to everyone at all times, the question begs: Will it be able to effectively aid the people of southeast Missouri at a time when they need it the most? The government’s track record on flood disasters is not good. Hurricane Katrina comes to mind.
“They (the federal government) ruined our livelihood, they destroyed the infrastructure down here and they took away our only defense against this raging river,” said a farmer who lost his land when the levee was blown. “They did it and that’s fine, but if they’re going to sacrifice us, they need to come here and make it right. They need to compensate us for this destruction. I’m the third generation to go through a flood. This one remains to be seen, but they (the two previous generations) didn’t get a thing out of it.”
Only government is capable of spending millions of taxpayer dollars to build something – only to blow it up. It is enough to make one’s head explode, too.
No one wanted to see Cairo, Ill., go under water (if in fact it would have). Every resource available should have been dispatched to Cairo to hold the floodwaters back for that city’s 2,800 inhabitants. But to suggest the saving of the Birds Point levee was somehow racist, as CNN and other liberal media have done, is irresponsible. What on earth does Cairo’s (it is predominately African-American) racist past have to do with the 100 Missourians who lost their homes and private property? Meanwhile the news media whines about a loss of credibility. Wonder why?
But there is something else we should consider about Birds Point: The importance of defending property against arbitrary power. Alexander Hamilton, John Adams and James Madison were emphatic on this matter at the writing of the Constitution. “The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence,” Adams wrote.
The point is not that property has “rights.” but rather that people have a right to property, and that this is an essential aspect of a free society. We ought to be deeply troubled by what the federal government did to southeast Missourians when it blew the Birds Point levee. A government which at its discretion, seizes or destroys private property, could thereby control every aspect of existence. Russell Kirk, in his monumental work, The Conservative Mind, believed “property and freedom are inseparately connected.” After Birds Point, that is a sobering thought we all best ponder.
DON HINKLE / editor