Today is my last day at the Show-Me Institute. Beginning in July, I will be working for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, Michigan’s state think tank. While I am excited to return to my home state, I will miss Missouri greatly.
Four years ago, I began at the Institute as an intern, filing hundreds of information requests for school superintendent contracts. I have been fortunate to work with talented and principled co-workers who are passionate about making Missouri a better place to live, work, and start a business. During my time in Missouri, I have learned enough about state and local government to convince me that Ron Swanson is the ideal public official.
At the state and local government level, disinterest allows for the slow deterioration of liberty. Tax credits, for example, can be a very dry subject. But because tax credits are frequently misunderstood, or even ignored, state politicians have gotten away with handing out hundreds of millions of dollars to favored individuals and businesses. Occupational licensing might sound boring, but that is a way the state can make it needlessly difficult for individuals to work.
The same disinterest applies to city government. Few pay attention to the variety of small government meetings in Saint Louis City. But those meetings are where decisions are made to limit where we can eat, limit what we can do with our homes, and limit who can purchase vacant city property. Officials have even paid companies to leave the state. It sounds like a plot from an episode of Desperate Housewives, but it really is true that in Saint Louis City, you can get in trouble for using the wrong trash bins.
I hope Missourians will continue to monitor their elected officials and to ask critical questions about government action. Small and petty people will use government for their small and petty means. Even if you happen to prefer lower grass height, fewer food trucks, or would like to see one building replaced with another, it is important to remember that next time, those powers may be used to accomplish something you find abhorrent.
Instead of hoping that one political party or another prevails, I prefer that government’s power to control our lives be reduced. There are a lot of great, dedicated small activist groups here, and I hope they continue (and succeed) to reduce the size of government.
I am confident that my colleagues at the Show-Me Institute will continue to fight for liberty in Missouri, and I wish them all the best.