Somewhere along the line, some Americans decided government is just a taker and not a giver -- a series of taxes with no corresponding series of services.
Perhaps they think roads and bridges were put here by God. Schools build themselves. Teachers provide lessons each day out of the goodness of their hearts, not for paychecks. Parks are fields we throw money into; and industries, including nuclear power plants, need no oversight or regulation.
These anarchist Americans -- most calling themselves radical libertarians or tea party members -- want nearly no government.
One, recently announcing for a seat in Congress, said he wants to go to Washington and "start this revolution."
"We are going to get the federal government out of our telephones, out of our bedrooms, out of our schools and churches and doctors' offices, out of our gun cabinets and out of our lives. We Americans are taking charge," he said.
All too often, this radical right mentality wants no government until it's time to enforce things such as abortion bans or to keep certain people from voting. Or from getting married (speaking of bedrooms).
And after the disciples of this anarchy giddily shut down the government early this month because the president won't back away from a law that Congress passed more than three years ago, the anarchists scream foul when parks close and death benefits are frozen for fallen soldiers.
The hypocrisy of the tea party and its ilk seems truly boundless.
Some 3,500 people were in Chattanooga last week for a Civil War Sesquicentennial conference, but the Chickamauga National Military Park was closed, barricaded because Congress has stopped appropriating money to keep it open. Meanwhile, the closure of all our national parks is costing us $30 million a day in non-tax revenue.
Here is another all-too-local example: Chattanooga is essentially ringed with nuclear power plants, and on Wednesday, Allison Macfarlane, chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, announced that the NRC, too, would join the rest of federal government in shutting down due to a lapse in appropriations.
"By using 'carryover' funds, we've been able to stay open, but those funds have now been depleted," she wrote in a NRC blog post. So beginning Thursday, NRC stopped conducting reactor licensing work, contemplating and working on reactor license renewal amendments, emergency preparedness exercises, reviews of design certifications or rule-making and regulatory guidance. Also suspended were licensing and inspection of nuclear materials and waste handlers.
Macfarlane said nuclear plant "resident inspectors" will remain on the job in the nation's 100 operating nuclear plants. There is usually one such inspector per reactor. There are seven reactors within about 100 miles of Chattanooga -- two are within 50 miles and two are within 20 miles of the downtown.
"We can -- and will without hesitation -- bring employees out of furlough to respond to an emergency," Macfarlane said.
That should reassure the anarchists.
And -- like everything else about this shutdown -- it should scare the pants off the rest of us.