All Maine Matters

May 2006



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Designed by Laisha

In Search of Excellence in Augusta
by Rep. Rich Cebra

In reflecting on the current situation in Augusta, it is hard to find, from this administration, any principles of sound government. I would like to share with you what I believe to be seven principles of good public policy. Think of them as guideposts to good government.

  1. Free people are not equal and equal people are not free. I am not talking about equality before the law. It is a foundational principle of our rule of law that the law must treat us equally. What I am talking about is the different talents and abilities we all have that make us all better at some things than others. When it comes to employment, people who excel in an area should be compensated for those skills. It is an illusion that the state can make us financially equal. It cannot. If this were possible, and somehow the government made us all financially equal tomorrow, we would not all be financially equal next week, because we all have individual needs and priorities. The state often attempts to make us equal by redistributing wealth through government programs paid for with your taxes.
  2. What is yours, you take care of, what belongs to everybody falls into disrepair. This is sometimes referred to as “the tragedy of the commons.” Private property is taken care of by its owners. They are invested in their property, and it’s important to them to protect what they have worked for. What belongs to the public needs to be taken care of by the government. It is one of the basic functions of government – to take care of what we as a society have invested our collective wealth in. I’m talking about such things as roads, parks, public lands and public schools. Unfortunately, when no one owns a particular thing, no one cares deeply about protecting it.
  3. The long-term effects of what the government does must be considered before we enter into a new program or scheme. Someone once said that today is the tomorrow that government bad policy from yesterday is affecting. This is a true statement. Look at the condition of the state government. Many of the problems we are encountering today in the areas of health and human services, immigration, transportation, and public education are all borne out of the policies put in place in the past. For us to avoid future troubles, we need to look at the long-term effects of policy being discussed today without the cloud of special interest groups or an entrenched government bureaucracy lobbying to preserve their jobs.
  4. When you encourage something, you get more of it; when you discourage something, you get less of it. This may sound simple, but as an example, look at the state of affairs in immigration. Had we encouraged people to enter this country legally and discouraged the underground economy of illegal immigration 20 years ago, we wouldn’t be in the mess we’re in today. There are many areas of government, on the federal, state and local levels, that pro-vide examples of this, from long-term dependence on social programs to encouraging entrepreneurship.
  5. No one spends someone else’s money as well as they spend their own. One public policy theory states that there are only four ways to spend money. They are: You, spending your money on yourself. You, spending your money on someone else. You., spending someone else’s money on yourself. And you, spending someone else’s money on someone else. History shows us that some people in government find it very easy to spend other people’s money on other people. That is obvious to the casual observer. Human nature shows us that when you spend your own money, you will be more responsible than when spending someone else’s money. That’s why we need to make it harder for government to take your money to begin with.
  6. Government has nothing to give the people except what it first takes from the people. A government big enough to give people everything they want is big enough to take everything you have. Those of us who work toward less and smaller government understand this and are trying to keep the government intrusion in our lives in check. It is a constant battle between two vastly different points of view. Do we stand for free enterprise and people making something of themselves, or do we want the state to take care of us from cradle to grave with countless programs and benefits in a never ending social state on the working people’s dime.
  7. Liberty makes all the difference in the world. Liberty is defined as: The right and power to act, believe, or express oneself in a manner of one’s own choosing; the ability to determine one’s own future. We need to defend our liberties from those who are constantly trying to take them from us. Look at some countries that have completely stripped people of their liberties – Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge regime and currently North Korea, where there are no liberties. In both cases, almost one third of the population has died under government oppression. Benjamin Franklin said, “Those who sacrifice their liberties for the sake of security deserve neither liberty nor security.” We need to listen to him.

These seven principles of public policy are a good starting point in determining the success of the American experiment in self-government. If we follow these principles, and have the right kind of leadership, we can put the federal and state governments back on the right track.

Representative Rich Cebra, a small business owner, represents the 101st House District, including Casco, Naples and part of Poland. Married 14 years with two children, Rich is active in local affairs on the Naples Budget Committee and Naples Main Street revitalization committee. He is a charter member of the Naples Lions club, a life member of the NRA, a member of SAM and the Citizens Alliance of Maine, and is an active supporter of the Right to Life movement. He is active in supporting TABOR and promoting the idea of smaller more efficient government whenever he can.

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