While the title of this post might suggest to some that I have certain elected officials in mind, I'm actually using "creep" in the sense of "spreading" - like a fungus or a rash. The point I am trying to make is that even a good and useful function of government can devolve into a boondoogle if left unchecked, and "unchecked" seems to be the default these days.
With that premise, consider the following. When the word "disaster" comes to mind, the photos from the recent Hurricane Sandy certain seem to fit the bill:
More specifically, when we think of a "drought disaster," we might think of this:
But when the folks at the USDA of the United States federal government think "drought disaster", they see this:
Nearly 2,200 of the 3,000 or so counties in the United States have "Drought Disaster Incidents" as of 11/7/12. More than 70% of the United States is a disaster area. Now I am not belittling the seriousness of the dry conditions in some places in our country. There is doubtless suffering and need. But is it any wonder we have 47,000,000 on food stamps and over 14,000,000 on social security disability?
Is it any wonder that unless contraceptives are freely available to all (and when I say "freely", I mean "plentifully and at no cost whatsoever",) we have a "health care crisis" on our hands?
This governmental tendency towards hyperbole results in policies that are costly and intrusive, but in addition it masks the true crises: the national debt, for one. But according to economists like Paul Krugman, the debt is nothing compared to the crisis we'd create by cutting government spending now. How about the Social Security/Medicare crisis of impending bankruptcy? No, we must fulfill the social contract lest our politicians (mostly Republican ones) begin shoving aging citizens over cliffs.
The attraction is that faux crises are so much easier to "solve" than real ones. Just a little more of someone else's money and we can "help" whoever needs it more. But unless we can face the hard truth that sometimes someone will fall and the federal government won't necessarily be there to catch him before he hits the ground, we will soon all be on the ground getting tangled up in what is left of the rotting strands of a "safety net" that is no longer catching anyone.