Talkin’ about the Government

I’m on the pavement talkin’ about the government.” — Bob Dylan, “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” 1965.

Half a century ago, we took to the pavement.

We saw the military fighting a badly managed war, the Pentagon lying about that war, universities engaging in racial discrimination, the White House spying on dissenters, a president committing misdeeds and lying to cover them up and the IRS targeting political opponents.

All of this government wrongdoing did produce great music. Bob Dylan put our protests to song and became the musical poet of the age. Insofar as government is concerned, he anticipated the next age, too.

Because government got no better.

Weirdly, however, we stopped protesting. In the war between the people and government, the people quietly surrendered.

Many even switched sides and became the establishment conformists that they once loathed. After protesting The Man for years, they became him.

Let’s listen to Dylan again.

“So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late.” — “All Along the Watchtower,” 1968.

At least 24 times the president promised the American people that “if you like your health insurance, you can keep it. Period.” The nonpartisan fact-checker PolitiFact called this the “Lie of the Year.”

“Ain’t it hard when you discover that he really wasn’t where it’s at after he took from you everything he could steal?” — “Like a Rollin’ Stone,” 1965.

The Wall Street Journal reported that White House records show Obama knew, for years, that his 24-time promise was false and that he repeatedly considered whether to start telling the truth. Instead, he decided not to.

“Well, they’ll stone ya when you’re trying to be so good.” — “Rainy Day Women,” 1966.

Under Obamacare, Catholic charities — institutions that have delivered billions in charitable good — will be deemed criminals unless they start paying for contraception services in violation of their 2000-year-old faith.

Their employees (who asked to become employees and knew the rules going in) could easily pay the few dollars for contraception themselves (as they used to). So this is not about money or contraception; it’s about The Man asserting authority over a religion for threatening his omnipotence. (No, I’m not a Catholic.)

“There’s too much confusion, I can’t get no relief.” — “All Along the Watchtower,” 1968.

After three years, and half a billion dollars, the administrator in charge of the Obamacare website said it’s worse than confusion; she called it a “debacle.” White House records show that in the course of that three-year period, Obama bothered to meet with her exactly once.

“How many roads must a man walk down before you call him a man?” — “Blowin’ in the Wind,” 1962.

Under Obamacare, the answer is: “No roads are enough.” A person can drive at 16, can vote and fight in wars at 18 and can drink at 21, but you’re not a man or a woman till you turn 26. Because, till then, you’re on your parents’ health insurance. (Why not 46?)

“Nobody has ever taught you how to live on the street, and now you find out you’re gonna have to get used to it.” —”Like a Rollin’ Stone,” 1965.

There’s hope. A recent poll shows that a majority of young people think Obamacare will be repealed next year. They rebel at the government mom imposed on them by their parents’ generation — as healthy youth have always rebelled. They are preparing to “get used to” being adults. Good for them. If only their parents would do the same.

“May God bless and keep you always. May your wishes all come true. May you always do for others and let others do for you. May you build a ladder to the stars and climb on every rung. May you stay forever young.” — “Forever Young,” 1973.

Big Government would like us all to be dependent on it — it would like to treat our youth as its children, treat our aged as its invalids and treat itself as everyone’s boss. Well, I have a big message for Big Government, and I’ll say it right here just in case they haven’t already found it in my computer.

It’s this: We don’t need no stinkin’ nanny — especially an incompetent one who lies to us. We want to be blessed by God, not by government; we want our own wishes to come true, not the government’s wishes; and we want to do for others and let others do for us without government mandates. We want to build our own ladders to our own stars; and, yes, we want to climb every sacred rung.

Get off our backs, and only then, we can stay forever young.

Published in The Aspen Times on December 22 at

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