Limited government versus “take-what-we-can-get”: Riley and the horse trailer evince two different world views

Charlie Riley, Precinct 2 County Commissioner.

Magnolia, November 3 – Whether the latest criminal allegations against Precinct 2 Montgomery County Commissioner Charlie Riley are true or false remains for the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office and a Grand Jury to determine, but the discussions of how we should approach government indicate two very different approaches to government in a society where freedom, liberty, and limited powers were the bulwarks upon which our Founding Fathers built the United States of America.

Riley and his supporters, like the many democrats for whom they work, hold a view of government that it exists for them to “take-what-we-can-get” out of it. Yet many Americans – and hopefully still most Americans – believe government sh0uld only exist for limited purposes and with limited powers.

The dichotomy between the limited government view versus “take-what-we-can-get” came into full blossom today as Riley’s supporters fell all over themselves trying to justify many of his actions. There’s one circumstance in particular that we should discuss.

On November 1, 2018, The Golden Hammer reported that Riley’s employees and former employees have alleged, among several other allegations, “During one County business day, Riley ordered Shop Foreman Chris Decuir, shop employee Mason Ramsey, and Riley’s nephew, who works for the County government in Riley’s Precinct Office, to change a tire on Riley’s daughter’s horse trailer when her vehicle stopped off of Nichols Sawmill Road in the Heritage Point neighborhood.” Please see “Riley’s Precinct 2 Commissioner’s Office In Disarray, As He Seeks Retribution Against Employees, Faces New Montgomery County Grand Jury Investigation,” The Golden Hammer, November 1, 2018.

“Take-what-we-can-get” from government on display

Since then, this newspaper has heard different versions of this story. Nevertheless, yesterday morning, a gentleman who has not authorized disclosure of his name contacted the newspaper and wrote the following:

I wanted to offer some clarification on a recent accusation you leveled against Commissioner Charlie Riley. In fact you even “corrected” the accusation and still got it wrong. You too are guilty of what many in the much maligned media do. You make a statement that’s partly true then you partly correct it and say “it doesn’t change what I really meant”.

It was my horse trailer that got a flat tire and had it changed by employees of Precinct 2. I am in no way related to Commissioner  Riley. In fact my wife was driving the trailer we own and I was out of town and unable to help. So a lady was stranded along the road with a flat tire a horse and several young girls and the county employees helped her.
If you find that inappropriate I question your decency. Would you stop to help? Would you be offended if a county employee helped your wife or daughter? I think not. If a sheriffs deputy or constable stopped would you be so “outraged”
I am a resident of Montgomery County Previnct 2. Seems to me this was a good use of county resources.
If you believe otherwise I would enjoy hearing from you. I am dismayed that helping someone with a flat tire is now considered a political act to be vilified.
By telling half the truth you hurt your cause, those who know the truth begin to question all that you write.
I realize you are not a journalist but an editorialist. Still you need to check your facts.
You often accuse those you write about with not responding to your request for clarification or your questions. I’ll assume that you will respond to my comments.
If these employees helping my stranded wife was such a mis-use of resources and you can explain to me why this is the case and why it was wrong in a persuasive manner.  I will consider reimbursing the county for helping a citizen in a time of need.
In addition I will challenge you help someone in a time of need. Regardless of the other alleged mis-deeds of this official; this was an act of kindness, not of politics or ideology.
By the way, it’s simply a gratuity that this newspaper isn’t disclosing the name of the writer. He submitted the letter without any request of anonymity. Therefore, this newspaper has no particular duty to provide anonymity. As an act of compassion, however, to save the man and his wife some embarrassment, this newspaper has left his name out of the article, especially because it’s not important.
Limited government on display
In response, the Publisher of this newspaper wrote:

Thanks for your email. First, yes, I believe it was inappropriate for County employees to assist you in that manner. County resources should be utilized precisely for their purpose and none other. Commissioner Riley uses many of his office resources to assist his political allies. That is not the purpose of government by any ethical stretch. Secondly, would you like for me to publish your letter, as I’m happy to do so?

As for helping others, I do so all the time, including assisting people on the roadside, raising millions of dollars for cancer research, and assisting other charities. I believe compassion is an attribute we should “hard-wire” people to have as we raise them as children.
Nevertheless, deploying my tax dollars in such a manner is forcing my charity towards you and your wife. That is a form of wrongful confiscation and wrongful use of public resources. As you can read in the original writings of The Golden Hammer, I balk at accepting ANY government benefits. When the Sheriff invited me to the Jail to experience what their meals were like, I paid the Sheriff’s Office $20. When the Sheriff’s Office gave me a T-shirt for graduating from the Citizens Academy, I paid them for it. I don’t believe I should take public resources for my private use at all.
As for whether I’m a journalist or an editorialist, quite frankly, I don’t really care. I have not met the “journalist” yet who does not editorialize, although many are willing to lie about their claimed objectivity. You are welcome to call me whatever you like, although my preference would be “Eric.” I am far more concerned with providing important ideas that move us towards much smaller and less expensive government that doesn’t even have the financial resources to go around changing people’s tires for them. I hope you will join in me that effort.

Conclusion: “take-what-you-can-get” runs the other way

The horse trailer man chose not to release his identity. He also chose not to reimburse the Montgomery County taxpayers for the roadside assistance he received as forced charity.

Many citizens of Montgomery County make arrangements for roadside assistance on their own. They join organizations such as the American Automobile Association to which they pay dues, which include insurance premiums to cover roadside assistance. In other words, they don’t expect government or some political connection to come to their aid.

It is neither compassion nor decency for Charlie Riley to use taxpayers’ resources to assist the man’s wife. Riley didn’t change the tire himself. He forced the taxpayers to change the tire.

Government does not exist to “help all citizens in time of need.” Government has a limited purpose. Government is not a super-welfare agency. Government is not God.

If decency or compassion had anything to do with the situation of the horse trailer, then Riley would have taken time off from his County job and gone to help the lady himself. But ordering the taxpayers to do so is nothing short of a misapplication of public resources.




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