Government Cannot Protect Us: Part Two

The government cannot protect us, part two: that is the subject of this evening's "Talking Points Memo".

Earlier this week, I debated Newt Gingrich about my thesis that self reliance, not reliance on government, is the key to self protection. If you're poor, you're powerless. That's why the poor got smashed in the hurricane zone.

Today, syndicated columnist Liz Smith (search) writes, "FOX News emperor Bill O'Reilly (I guess that's me) tells us in Katrina's wake that if we — Americans —depend on the United States government for any reason, we are certain to be disappointed. Always. Bill's advice to America (to the poor of New Orleans, especially) is educate yourself and get a well-paying job. Only then can you avoid standing on a 'metaphorical rooftop' when the next disaster rolls around. Bill did not give the poor any advice on how one finds a proper education or a job. Remember, the government can't help."

Now up front, I have to tell you that Liz Smith is a liberal woman, but an honest one. She's extremely fair and accurate in her reporting and has a dignity many in the print press lack. So I am pleased to respond to her on this issue.

The USA has mandatory education. You have to go to school or pass exams if home-schooled. But nobody can force you to learn while you're in school.

If you refuse to do the hard work that education requires, and millions of kids do, you're going to be ill equipped to compete in the marketplace. And all the government programs in the world are not going to change that.

So every American kid should be required to watch videotape of the poor in New Orleans and see how they suffered, because they couldn't get out of town. And then, every teacher should tell the students, "If you refuse to learn, if you refuse to work hard, if you become addicted, if you live a gangsta-life, you will be poor and powerless just like many of those in New Orleans."

That's the truth. And one does not find an education. This country provides every citizen a chance to get one. Public education's free. Public libraries are free. Many community colleges are basically free. And scholarships of all kinds are everywhere. But no politician can make you learn or develop a skill.

Now for centuries, charlatans have been telling Americans that the government can provide, will provide and you deserve to be provided for. Bull. Terrorists killed 3,000 on 9/11. Poverty stands at 12 percent, despite trillions spent on Great Society programs over the last 40 years. And acts of nature can kill you if you can't get out of the way.

Hurricane Katrina (search) once again showed the world that government is fallible and indeed can be overwhelmed. Depend on yourself. Get educated. Get smart. Get personal resources. That is the lesson of Katrina.

And that's "The Memo."

The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day

Apparently FEMA (search) wanted to evacuate about 180 folks from the hurricane zone to Charleston, South Carolina, where there were facilities waiting for them.

One problem: the plane carrying evacuees landed in Charleston, West Virginia, according to press reports. So far, no comment from FEMA.

But I hope nobody's heading to Paris, Texas, because they might wind up in — well, you get the idea.

Ridiculous? I think FEMA's in that category.