The Blame Game

Stories don’t get much more tragic than last week’s news from an Arkansas campground. Twenty people died when a sudden nocturnal torrent swept their tents, campers and cars downstream. Several victims were small children. The vacation-turned-nightmare plot is the stuff of horror flicks.  
I felt deep grief for the survivors. I also couldn’t help but imagine who would get the blame for the catastrophe. The parks department? The campground host? The Weather Service? The Corps of Engineers? The tent makers?
 
The uncertainty of life is hard to swallow. Each day has equal opportunity for joy and sorrow. And when sorrow comes, especially to good people and for no obvious reason, it feels natural to medicate the pain with blame and revenge. It only takes a few pages of the biblical book of Genesis to see how instinctive blaming others can be. 
 
The blame game for the Gulf oil spill is in full swing. Some accuse BP of cutting corners. Others target the U.S. Minerals Management Service for cozying up to Big Oil. Still others blame the White House for a slow response. If I looked hard enough, I could probably even find an enviro-blogger blaming me for owning a fossil fuel-powered vehicle.
 
The blame game is a popular past-time in our litigious society. It’s easier to point a finger than to pick up a shovel. “To err is human,” so they say. “To blame it on someone else is even more human.”
 
As government dependence grows, the extent to which governments are blamed for disasters also increases. This is a shame for many reasons, among them this: Who will want to serve in an entity that has limitless culpability? Only the clinically insane and the maniacally egotistical, neither sound governors.
 
I don’t blame President Obama for the oil spill, though his political philosophy wants people to think that the federal government has the capacity to be responsible. Neither do I blame the Arkansas Parks Department for the deaths on the banks of the Missouri, though I do hope it improves warning systems.
 
Some incidents are bigger than our governments can handle, and thankfully so. Otherwise, we would all be living in covered, padded barracks under incessant safety supervision. Not exactly the life of freedom to which our founders aspired.
 
The chance of rain makes clear skies more enjoyable. Most Americans would take the prospect of unemployment over a mandated federal job. They’d take the potential of being uninsured over a uniform government-run health care system. They consider insurance a duly earned reward for work well done.
 
Where there is big government, there is big blaming. There are also fewer citizens rising to the occasion to solve problems and to meet needs. “Why?” they rationalize. “That’s the government’s job.” 
 
On the other hand, where government is limited, freedom expands, as does the ingenuity of a gifted people.

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