I thank John Ilgenfritz of Helena for looking at my ideas (‘Lots to ‘chew on’ in The Monitor,” Jan. 22). He wrote: “A couple of weeks ago [DeVries] talked about virtually shrinking Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services to 0 over 20 years by cutting its budget by 10% every session.” Let me note that we began digging this war-on-poverty pit 60 years ago. Not being draconian, I also proposed we could stretch this cutting over 40 years, almost the length of time already wasted. Also, to be clear, this proposal was not meant to be virtual, but literal. Virtually means “not really,” and we really need to do this. The lighter the chains, the easier they are to throw off, and they will only grow heavier.

Mr. Ilgenfritz also expressed doubt that the private sector could pay the bills currently being footed by DPHHS: “However, even the local ‘community chest’ had neither the financial resources nor training to sufficiently address them.” Yet as it stands the funds are already absconded and staff are already drawn from the community chest in spades. All government money and staff are private-sector resources. The state possesses no money or people of its own. This is why our community chests are gathering dust.

We’ve been bedazzled into thinking that only the state is capable of inspecting, regulating, healing and caring. Hogwash. It is as if the state spoke us into being, sustains us, and causes the rising and setting of the sun. If this sounds like a deity, to many, that is exactly correct.

He went on to question whether he and I were living in the same century regarding helping others. I think we might be surprised regarding the ability of Montanans to care for their own, but the point stands. Local resources can be limited. But this is the wonderful thing about this new day we live in, this new century we both share: Our resources are not limited to this district. A single, small example is a Christian health share ministry. One can participate as a member in good standing at a church anywhere in the United States. Each member, or family, pays a monthly share that is sent directly to another member seeking to have medical bills met. There are a variety of options, but the cost is a fraction of the other health insurances available. Basically, it’s a huge pool of people committed to paying the medical bills of other members in need. Individual burdens borne by many Christians nationwide. All done privately! All done voluntarily! All done in addition, mind you, to the tax dollars all the members are currently paying out for those essential governmental social programs. All done at a fraction of the cost of any Obamacare plan.

This principle will apply to any area of need, from unemployment to disability to whatever. This is the best way, because there is direct oversight of each member by local churches, participation is voluntary and overhead is purposely kept low.

Finally, Mr. Ilgenfritz pointed out a legitimate quandary: “How many of the folks who live in Northern Jefferson County have benefitted from state and/or federal jobs? If you include local businesses, who would be hurt, the pain might be severe, if government jobs were lost.” This would be a pickle, except that the private sector abhors a vacuum. If these jobs are indeed essential and the work being carried out is benefitting society, which I believe it is, then these occupations would all be taken up by the private sector, where the economic benefits would compound dramatically.

If all house painters were a government service, and the government scaled back, do we believe for a minute that house painting would cease? If a job is essential, the private sector will provide it. If the private sector does not want or need the service, then why would we need it in a governmental capacity?

The fact that the government is the lifeblood of any community’s economy should be alarming to us all. Our state budget exploded over the last 16 years with a Democrat as governor -- from approximately $8 billion in the 2004/2005 biennium including estimated statutory spending to approximately $14 billion in the 2020/2021 biennium.. The state is the largest employer in Montana. Everyone wags a token finger at the issue, but no one ever dares speak up and say that we need to seriously cut our budget and spending. That sentiment might hurt one’s reelection chances. Rep. Greg Gianforte’s Trump-like plan of freezing spending and sending back the surplus formerly eaten up by the bloating budget to the citizens of Montana in the form of tax cuts is a refreshing approach.

President Trump injected new life into the American dream through tax cuts, regulation cuts, and concern for our lives, our liberties and our properties. He leads like a man who knows business and freedom. He does not pander to all sides, which pleases none in the end. He does not beg pardon of the Left or their propaganda arm.

As President Trump’s hands are tied with a Congress that won’t send him a slashed budget, so our governor will need a conservative Legislature to pass him an HB2 which would make President Trump proud. No more compromise. No more slow walking deeper into taxes and bureaucracy. We must shrink the size of our government and its related cost for our children and grandchildren. We are consuming their inheritance like locusts. Anything else is fiscally unconscionable and disgraceful.

Rep. Greg DeVries (R-Jefferson City) represents House District 75. As the 2020 election season is gearing up, this will be his final column to appear in The Monitor, as we strive to give no advantage nor endorsement of any candidate over another.

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