Blawgletter shies from political-type fights. Yet we feel an urge to point out that bidness doesn’t always beat govment.
We say govment in honor (and ridicule) of Huckleberry Finn’s father — Pap Finn. Pap says lots of prime things. They include:
Oh, yes, this is a wonderful govment, wonderful. Why, looky here. There was a free nigger there, from Ohio; a mulatter, most as white as a white man. He had the whitest shirt on you ever see, too, and the shiniest hat; and there ain’t a man in that town that’s got as fine clothes as what he had; and he had a gold watch and chain, and a silver-headed cane — the awfulest old grey-headed nabob in the State. And what do you think? They said he was a p’fessor in a college, and could talk all kinds of languages, and knowed everything. And that ain’t the wust. They said he could vote, when he was as home. Well, that let me out. Thinks I, what is the country a-coming to? It was ‘lection day, and I was just about to go and vote, myself, if I warn’t too drunk to get there; but when they told me there was a State in this country where they’d let that nigger vote, I drawed out. I says I’ll never vote agin. Them’s the very words I said; they all heard me; and the country may rot for all me-I’ll never vote agin as long as I live. And to see the cool way of that nigger — why, he wouldn’t a give me the road if I hadn’t shoved him out o’ the way. I says to the people, why ain’t this nigger put up at auction and sold? — that’s what I want to know. And what do you reckon they said? They said he couldn’t be sold till he’d been in the State six months, and he hadn’t been there that long yet. There, now-that’s a specimen. They call that a govment that can’t sell a free nigger till he’s been in the State six months. Here’s a govment that calls itself a govment, and lets on to be a govment, and thinks it is a govment, and yet’s got to set stock-still for six whole months before it can take ahold of a prowling, thieving, infernal, white-shirted free nigger, and —
We concede at once that Mark Twain intended Pap’s speech to shock the conscience of even 19th-century folk. The rant disturbs us now far more. As Twain, we imagine, hoped it would.
But let’s please not lose track of our point. As America’s founding fathers knew, government exists not just to protect property rights. We formed a more perfect union also to establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity. Our founders believed that government does all of those things.
And let us not fail to point out that, unlike private enterprises, the government earns no profit. It bills for goods and services at cost. We can and should complain about instances in which government charges more for something than a private contractor would. But profit-motivation means that NGOs value our founding values at the expense of their own bottom lines. Pap Finn wouldn’t mind. Should we? Shouldn’t we?