Liberals often tell us that government can fix everything and that central control is the best way to handle things.

The question then becomes: "If centralized control is such a good thing, then why is it the border is such a mess? Shouldn't the 'relevant experts' be able to come up with a solution? And doesn't it seem like every time the feds get involved with something they just make it worse?"

To the conservative the answer is simple: "You know, people seem to have a pretty good idea what's best for them, maybe they ought to get to decide that."

However, it seems to be an article of faith among liberal intelligentsia, that people are basically stupid and need someone to tell them what to do to keep them from messing up their own lives.

Conservatives, however, tend to believe that most people are reasonably intelligent and, if left to their own devices, will generally do a pretty good job of taking care of themselves.

This then logically carries over into government. It would seem to a conservative that the closer the government is to the people and the less intrusive it is, the better it will work.

School boards are a perfect example. Ideally, they're composed of local people taking control of their local school. They have standards passed down to them by the state board of education, but it is up to them to design curricula to meet the standards. That's the way it's supposed to work.

How it actually works is the Department of Education controls the purse strings and tells the state boards what they're going to pass for curricula and then the state boards tell the local boards what their schools are going to teach — and then we wonder why the schools are a complete cluster you-know-what.

In the school system you have a Washington bureaucrat who likely (like  current Secretary of Education Arne Duncan) is not a teacher and has never taught a class telling teachers in West Hole In the Wall, Nebraska what they should teach and how.

Moreover the more centralized the power the more inefficient the system.

Where a local mayor can react quickly to say, a major snow storm, if he has to get permission to act from the state or, God forbid, Washington the snow may be melted before he can get cleared to get the plows out.

This is why news organizations have bureaus around the country. When a major story happens there isn't time to get reporters out from the home office. But a local bureau chief can get a man on the scene within hours — if not minutes.

So too the government. Our founders understood that centralized power leads to tyranny of one form or another, and so created a system whereby the states would have most of the power over what went on within their own borders. This by the way is why they're called "states" not "provinces." Because, in theory at least, each state is sovereign within its own borders.

What it really comes down to, is that either you trust people or you don't.

Logically, you're far better off trusting people than government. One man can do far less damage than can a government — unless that one man is a tyrant.

All IMHO, of course.

— Patrick Richardson is the managing editor of the Pittsburg Morning Sun. He can be emailed at, or follow him on Twitter @PittEditor.