Being dependent upon government is a cruel hoax: good for politicians and bureaucrats, but over the long run, terrible for the recipients.
As a stark example, consider our Native Americans. We can start with an observation by Henry Ford who, although certainly not my favorite person due to his social views, said something that all people should have emblazoned upon their thought processes: “Anyone who thinks people can prosper by relying on the government should talk to the American Indian.”
Fact: Native Americans have the highest poverty rate of any minority group in our country. That comes as a result of having been controlled by the federal government since the early 1800s. Their lands are held in “trust” for them by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, or BIA (which most Native Americans refer to as “Bossing Indians Around), and which has a budget of $3 billion per year.
The Bureau of Indian Education spends $850 million of that money per year on educating 42,000 students, which comes out to more than $20,000 per student per year – while the national average is about $12,500 per student. So money is not the problem. Those two government agencies have about 9,000 employees, which pencils out to one bureaucrat for every 111 Native Americans still on a reservation.
What is the answer? End the trust system and government supervision. Trusts are generally only used for children and incompetent adults. So that represents the low regard our system holds for Native Americans.
Instead, transform the system slowly but steadily to disband these “protective” federal agencies and let the various tribes begin to make their own decisions (Can you imagine having a Bureau of Irish Descendants’ Affairs?)
Let Native Americans pursue and the benefits of the free enterprise system. Institute a system that allows the tribes and/or individuals to own their own land, which they then could improve, sell or use as collateral for loans to underwrite start-up businesses.
Today, even though reservations contain about 50 percent of all of the potential uranium reserves and 20 percent of oil reserves in our country, Native Americans are prohibited from pursuing their development.
And if they try to do things like that with their land, it takes 49 steps among four different federal agencies, thousands of dollars in application fees and about four years to get government approval. Furthermore, they should be empowered to take over the education of the children still remaining on reservations.
(Photo of President Obama’s June 2014 visit to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Nation in Cannonball, North Dakota, by White House photographer Pete Souza.)