The German word "zeitgeist" translates as "spirit of the times" or "spirit of the age." But the "spirit of the times" in contemporary America might more accurately be called its "frightgeist," given the state of permanent anxiety in which so many of us seem to live.
We lurch from "crisis" to "crisis," in a reactionary mode, applying a patchwork of policy prescriptions as we go. Then we wonder why we have no coherent energy policy, no coherent foreign policy, no coherent public lands policy, no coherent policy, period.
The Crisis of the Day, according to this MSNBC report, is reckless, risky, completely un-regulated cheerleading -- the kind of cheerleading that has left a swath of heartache and carnage in its wake. And as so often happens, once a sense of crisis is generated, the thinking of some Americans reflexively turns to a government response. The story comes complete with a poll, in fact, which poses the inevitable question: "Should cheerleading be more tightly regulated?"
This being MSNBC -- a cable network that caters to a left-leaning audience -- the poll results as of 2:00 pm today were as follows:
93.1% said "yes,"cheerleading should be more tightly regulated;
6.3% said "no" -- indicating that they must have gotten lost on their way to Fox News;
And 0.7 percent weren't sure what to think -- meaning they must be Keith Olbermann fans.
With poll results like this, how long before pandering politicos will be introducing bills, and government regulators will be making "rules," designed to safeguard our young people from the scourge of cheerleading-related injuries and hazards? Only a matter of days or weeks, if experience is any guide. Manufacturing and sustaining a sense of crisis --irrespective of whether a crisis exists -- is the necessary prerequisite to the expansion of government power. And this is how government grows, step by step, "crisis" by "crisis," into the monster it is today.