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July 7, 2022
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There are a lot of things people like to believe that are patently absurd if you think about it. Much of the Obama Administration was based on making confident declarations – we can’t just drill our way out of an energy shortage, it would take a magic wand to bring back manufacturing jobs, 2 percent growth is the “new normal,” etc. – all delivered in a somber, imperious tone that made them sound like unassailable truth, when in fact, all of them were patently false.

One of the most common pieces of false conventional wisdom is that “the government can’t legislate morality!” But of course, they do it all the time. We have millions of laws, just to enforce society’s consensus of what’s morally right or wrong. Liberals used to protest this, and now they’re the chief generators of morality laws, usually bans on everything they find morally offensive, including smoking, using racist words or an unpreferred pronoun, giving someone an unrequested plastic straw, attending a protest for a cause they personally disagree with, etc. etc. etc. Each law comes with loopholes, so government adds more laws to close them. Plus we’ll need police, courts and jails, because some people will always insist on doing the wrong thing anyway. All to legislate morality.

(I know, today’s liberals want to do away with police and jails, but that’s just for actual criminals. They still want to arrest and jail law-abiding citizens who exercise rights they disapprove of, like reopening their gyms, salons and barber shops.)

Self-government requires self-discipline, self-respect, and respect for others. When people don’t follow an accepted standard moral code, government keeps passing new laws to try to force them to, which creates bigger government and more expense and less freedom for everybody. Maybe the national debt wouldn’t be sky high now if our behavior standards hadn’t sunk so low.

How much do people’s bad personal choices end up costing all the rest of us? You might be surprised at the size of the bill. When I left the governor’s office in Arkansas, we had more than 13,000 inmates in the Department of Corrections. Just keeping them locked up cost taxpayers more than $220 million a year. That’s more than it would have cost to send 13,000 kids to any college in the state, all expenses paid. If every prison inmate had just lived a moral life and stayed out of trouble, the taxpayers could have enjoyed a $220 million tax cut. Or the money might have been used to improve roads and services that benefit everyone.

From the left, I’d always hear that we should spend more money on prisoners or else turn more of them loose. From the right, I’d hear that we should lock up more people and eliminate parole while cutting the prison budget. Both were unrealistic. But hardly anyone wanted to talk about the real problem: the lack of morality that led to all those people being locked up in the first place.

And what about juvenile offenders? Every kid placed into our Division of Youth Services cost taxpayers up to $80,000 a year. If they’d all had stable, nurturing homes and been taught to be obedient, responsible and moral, it would’ve saved the taxpayers of just that one state $80 million a year. Imagine how many parks we could have built for all kids to enjoy, or how many books we could’ve bought for school libraries, if we could’ve freed up $80 million a year in the state budget.

A lot of kids get into trouble because of peer pressure, which social media and Twitter mob shaming have made even more oppressive. They think breaking the rules makes them look cool and that they will never face any consequences for it. So kids, when someone you know starts acting up, instead of rewarding them with your admiration or covering for them with your silence, please have the courage to stand up and say, “That’s not cool! Thanks for costing us our parks and turning our generation into tax slaves, jerk!”

Hey, as long as kids are going to be vulnerable to peer pressure, why not use its power for good?

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Comments 1-25 of 39

  • Leopoldo Aguilera

    09/07/2022 01:37 PM

    Obama is part of the Bilderbergs, the top organization of the New World Order Conspiracy.

  • Tamara Moore

    08/09/2022 04:08 PM

    This is so spot on. The root of all our problems--the individual being ruled by his "old sin nature" instead of listening, knowing, and being controlled by the Word of God.
    It's refreshing to know that there is a politician that understands this!!!

  • Pat Kennedy

    07/17/2022 02:28 PM

    We can't legislate morality, we can only do it by example. For example our elected and appointed people in government, monkey see monkey do, nuff said.

  • Michael Winningham

    07/15/2022 08:39 PM

    In my state of Indiana we had in Pendleton In. the penitentiary had a farm where the inmates worked,apple orchard,cows ,chickens different types of farm work but our government did away with this . Now they complain about overcrowding and cost .

  • James Pritchett

    07/10/2022 11:19 PM

    I'm a small town farm kid, earth scientist, engineer, who lived 19 yrs. outside the US while working for a major US multi-national Oil Co. My bride of 36 yrs and I both think it is way past time for a COS, a serious come to Jesus meeting for all of our humans and an extreme downsizing of all the governments, all of it! "Come on man" - I really don't like that saying or the POTUS.

    Love and appreciate your efforts to educate us.

  • gordon daniels

    07/10/2022 08:24 PM

    The Left should Hate Wind Turbines - FACT: In their Lifetime they can never "NEGATE" the amount of Emissions produced during their Manufacture- Transportation- Installation and Connection to the GRID -- all it achieves is give China an honest excuse to keep "EMITTING" to Manufacture these useless noisy Bird Killing machines -- THIS IS FACT

  • Leslie Earwood

    07/10/2022 07:05 PM

    Mike thanks for the penetrating article. Ever since Genesis we have had a moral problem; namely "it looks good, it's desirable, it will make me wise." (Meaning, of course, life consists of what I want.) Yes, the consequences are also there -- Death! The point is stated succinctly by Elton Trublood in his book; THE COMPANY OF THE COMMITTED and I quote, "why should we suppose that our country will survive unless. . . ."

  • jack macdonald

    07/10/2022 04:16 PM

    In addition to the dozen or more reasons Biden should be impeached. He is assisting the cartels in killing USA citizens by not controlling the borden and protecting our sovereignty. He is one sick SOB and you can look at Hunter to see what kind of a father he is.

  • Ronda Shallow

    07/09/2022 06:58 AM

    So well said. Love has the highest vibration and is synonymous with God! We have existed for millions of years and still don’t know how to Love.

  • Fred Sayin

    07/08/2022 02:24 PM

    Didn't one of the Founding Fathers state that the reason for government is that "men are not angels"? There is a technique that uses peer pressure to correct another child's conduct, it is called: "Positive Connotation". I have used it a couple times as a leader in a Boy Scout Troop and once as a substitute teacher. For the idea to work, a third person (group or individual) has to be in the area. Turn a bully's insult into a joke. Third person in area laughs at your joke, this is the goal. I used it in Boy Scouts when an older Scout was teasing another Scout about what he was wearing (colored socks with sneakers). The oldest Scout refused to obey me to leave the area as his teasing was interupting my presentation and all the other adults were busy, no help and I needed to do something, so the next time the older scout interupted me, I did the technique as I had just learned for a college course and when finished: I had about 10 scouts laughing at my response, even the boy being teased was laughing at my response. The older Scout after that kept his mouth shut for at least 45 minutes. As a substitute teacher I had 8th grade SE. After lunch, a boy started breakdancing at his chair, in the classroom, after lunch and wouldn't sit down after being told to 3 times so I said: " Gee, you are good, think I will leave a note for your teacher and you can perform in front of her and all your classmates who were absent, that way nobody misses the show". My response got the entire class laughing and that boy stopped breakdancing and sat down. Preceding is not emotional abuse as the classmates are laughing at my response. The 3 reasons this technique works is 1. The bully fails at his objective to frustrate another person. 2. Nobody, except the late night comedians, like to be laughed at and the most important: 3. The person being insulted has people laughing with them and not at them.

  • Keith O Carlson

    07/08/2022 01:44 PM

    AMEN Brother Mike. Immorality costs us big $$.

  • Patti Sharpe

    07/08/2022 01:19 PM

    When people say "You can't legislate morality", they're not saying you can't legislate moral actions. The entire purpose of laws governing our actions is to determine the acceptable and unacceptable way of doing something. What people are saying is that trying to legislate one's actions doesn't translate into turning them into moral people. We don't become moral just because the law tells us how to act. People break laws every day. Putting the laws into place didn't make those people moral. There are other people who follow the law only because it IS the law. If the law went away, so would their "good" behavior. The punishment is the only deterrent. They have not been made moral by the law. If that worked, Jesus would have been unnecessary. Perhaps a better way to say it would be that you cannot legislate morality into being.

  • Dee Booth

    07/08/2022 11:55 AM

    In regard to the lack of morality maybe in addition to requiring children to attend school we should require them to attend a church of their or their parents choosing for x number of hours each school year. Notice I did not have the government select a church so this should not violate the 1st amendment. Wouldn't it be great if by the time young adults graduated from high school they also had a good foundation in religion, even if they had chosen to study many different religions and attend several different churches?

  • Rosemarie

    07/08/2022 11:54 AM

    I know I am a dinosaur. But, I blame the descent in morality on the violence and the sexuality and promiscuity that surrounds our society especially in the media. High school kids pressure each other to lose their virginity. And a staggering number of unwed births occurs. Many of these babies never have a father in their lives or a stable home. Having been a school nurse for 38 years, my main observation is that parents need to set early, strong, repeated, expectations for their children as to the child's behavior and accomplishments. Plus, be good examples of those expectations for their children in their own lives. If a parent brings a steady stream of men or women in and out of their children's lives and homes, don't be surprised about an unexpected teen pregnancy. If a parent sells drugs in the home, they shouldn't be surprised if their kid gets into drugs. If a child lives a life of violence, with unsecured Illegal weapons in the home, don't be surprised when at an early age, the child starts breaking the law. If the parent has never finished school or never worked, what kind of life experiences/examples does that provide for a child? If a child is never taken to church or taught to pray and have faith, how will they have a strong code of right and wrong? Schools get blamed for many things and some of them are right. But school staff and administrators can only work with the child that is brought to them. And all too often children have neurologic damage from being born to drug addicted mothers. This make learning difficult for them as well as normal classroom behavior. Plus, children who know no respect or manners. Children who have no idea how to even sit still. A child who earns a bad grade so the parent comes up to school and threatens to attack the teacher for giving their child a bad grade. Even when the parent has never been involved in the child's school life. Often, parents who never did well themselves in school and had their own behavioral issues. This is not a pretty picture, but it is unfortunately reality. And school dropouts and crime rates rise. It seems community groups to support children are too fleeting and too late for some kids. Kids need two responsible, law abiding, responsible people as parents from the jump.

  • Shauna dickerson

    07/08/2022 11:48 AM

    I wish more people understood this. "Do un to others as you would have them do unto you" . Of course not everyone thinks the exact same way you do, buy if we have respect for others, it works the same way.

  • Charles H King Jr

    07/08/2022 11:24 AM

    Good day, Governor. What a great article about Self Government. I read it after the one about spirituality being important in our lives. I think my comments on spirituality are just as applicable to this article; take God out of our public lives and we are on slippery slope of immorality that leads to irresponsibility and a lack of self-discipline follows. Well....... it seems GOD is the foundation of all GOOD life characteristics. Imagine that!!! Keep up the good work Gov.!!!

  • Craig Brinker

    07/08/2022 11:20 AM

    Peer pressure is very overrated. Peer attraction is a much bigger problem. Far more kids do something because they see someone else doing it and enjoying it, so they want to do it then there are kids doing something because other kids are pushing them to do it.
    Think how GREAT this world would be if everyone knew GOD


  • James s. schmitt

    07/08/2022 11:15 AM

    Why can a prisoner in jail be given a bible but a student in a public school can't? Maybe if we gave students the option to have a bible class in school they wouldn't have to learn about it while in prison.

  • Robert C Dale

    07/08/2022 11:14 AM

    Our prisons used to be self sufficient! They had gardens, livestock, and cost the taxpayers very little if any. It’s overdue that we return the jails to that policy. There is no reason for us to fund that!

  • Gary Heisley

    07/08/2022 11:11 AM

    Why isn't the Republicans in the House and Senate not demanding impeachment of President Biden while we still have a country left? I am so sick of hearing them saying they have to take back control before they can do anything and if the Publican party does not start sticking together they will not gain control come November.

  • Susan Ball

    07/08/2022 11:10 AM

    Totally agree with your looking at the root causes of so many of our ills. A great way to save money and lives if we all just lived good lives. While on that subject, I have been exploring looking into the past mass murders by digging deeper and looking at their root causes. Not guns, but the personality of the killers. Most have a history of smoking marijuana and doing drugs. They have become psychotic and unable to function in a moral way. Someone needs to research how many of these killers came out of a drug background. We should be looking past the gun bans and look at the extensive use of marijuana and other drugs and their role in these mass murders.

  • Sarah O’Hara

    07/08/2022 11:01 AM

    If we would go back to having any prisoner work on chain-gangs cleaning up the highways, and repaying society by service to the community it wronged, we would have less offenders. If they had to eat whatever is cheapest and work to pay back and not get everything handed to them, they wouldn’t want to come back. Do hard time for your crime. Even teens. Work never hurt anyone. Prison needs to be hard on anyone, male or female who commits a crime. I agree there are carrier criminals, but weed them out and try to rehabilitate them. If that doesn’t work-eliminate them. Just my opinion.

  • Kate Burch

    07/08/2022 10:15 AM

    Rousseau really got the ball rolling: blaming a faceless "societ" for cultural pathology, rather than demanding personal accountability. As lpng as antisocial behavior is incentivized and virtue punished, we will continue on the path to ruin.

  • John Klay

    07/24/2021 12:00 PM

    Mike, coming from a 70+ lifelong law abiding citizen who's never seen the inside of a prison, part of the problem is prisoners have too many rights, privileges, & niceties! When a person commits a felony, they give up some rights & privileges. Prison for felons should be a place they NEVER, EVER want to see again! Hard core felons should do HARD TIME! Take a look at the Federal Prison in Florence, Colorado, & their cells! No TV! No books except a Bible. 1 hour of sunlight/exercise per day, basic solitary! No Visitors. No great food, basic healthy, subsistence diet! If you make it bad enough, so BAD they would rather die than ever come back, their sentences could be significantly shortened, i.e. instead of 'warehousing' them for 30 yrs, maybe 5 to 10 yrs would be sufficient to get their attention! Further, Capital Crimes should be expanded! 1st Degree Murder, Rape, Sexual Assault on a Child, 3 Strikes(Felons) considered Capital Crimes & times for Trials, Appeals, & Imposition of Sentence MUST be greatly shortened. NO MORE than 1 YR from beginning to Penalty! No More Lethal Injection! Bring back States Right to pick, i.e. Firing Squad, Hanging, Electric Chair, Gas Chamber,etc! This business of 20-30 yrs thru Appeal after Appeal, then a Hospital Setting for a Lethal Injection, by then it has lost ALL its' deterrent value & most people have completely forgotten the heinous nature of the crime! Progressive Liberals ruin everything they touch, & Lawyers make a fortune of off stretching the process out as long as possible, they don't care, they're getting wealthy! Time to get back to the basics!

  • Liz Rome

    07/08/2021 05:41 PM

    Yes -- As you said: Self-government requires self-discipline, self-respect, and respect for others----
    In other words "responsibility"? This grandmother believes this strength and these values begins at home. And have a much better chance when home is a two-parent family. Time to go back to basics.