What it boils down to is a hubristic notion that we have the knowledge and wisdom to organize our fellow men for a collective "good" that we define. Ancient emperors of the pagan world used to operate on this principle; the divine-right monarchs of Europe did so, as have Marxist revolutionaries, fascists, and autocratic rulers in the Islamic world.
But the modern West too has bought into this idea, hook, line, and sinker. We demonstrate our fealty to it whenever we speak in complacent accents of government, operating on some organizing principle, "creating jobs" for us, saving us from poverty and death, preventing all forms of injustice, saving the planet, or properly allocating "society's resources."
Other peoples have paid the price of government-worship more visibly and summarily than we have. But the monstrous debt staring down the world's advanced nations is part of the price we are paying, and it is an inevitable result of our decision to give over so much of our lives to secular, material collectivism.
Collectivist schemes produce only debt, resentment, discouragement, and want because they put humans and human ideas in the place of God.
Have we deceived ourselves in terms of what man can really do, vs what only God can do?
God can use us to create jobs, but we cannot use each other for that purpose. God can use us to rescue our fellow men from distress and despair, but we cannot use each other to do that. God can redress injustice when it is done to us; sometimes He even prevents it before it happens. But we cannot order and control each other to avert all possible forms of injustice.
Nor do we exert any control over earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, the energy of the sun, the orbit of the moon, the path of the Milky Way through the cosmos, or the development of living species on earth. Indeed, what we understand about these phenomena is still far outstripped by what we cannot even usefully observe or identify.
But we pretend that we can. Perhaps it gives us a feeling that we can control things that we actually cannot control. Take the whole issue of "global warming". Even the basic idea that our actions here on earth can control global weather - which actually involves an extremely complex mixture of solar activity, cloud cover, gamma rays, the earth's magnetic field, ocean movements etc etc etc. is laughable. However we convince ourselves that we can determine global weather patters by the type of car we select at Carmax. Please.
The natural outcome of believing we can guarantee things that only God has control over is, precisely, the "unsustainability" we all talk about today in relation to government activism.
The urge to form a collective and try to control human results is a very old one, however, recurring throughout the Old Testament and secular history. And in every incarnation it is doomed to painful failure.
And what happens when "man" decides to completely place faith in "man"?
When our first recourse is to each other, we resort to the same things every time: envy, theft, resentment, anger, demonization, punitive taxation, regulation, rent-seeking, collusion, cronyism, and war. It is only when each of us, individually, turns his eyes and mind to God before all else that we begin to see a yield of charity, tolerance, respect, large-mindedness, and peace.
After all, what is government really capable of?
Barack Obama didn't start our civilization on its current path. In a sense, as I have noted in other writings, he is the one left holding the bag as the civilization that produced him is confronted with the bankruptcy of its bad ideas. He knows only how to tax, spend, regulate, and discuss taxation, spending, and regulation, because that is what our civilization has given itself over to.
We have put government policy and government programs in the place of God, and until we get our own minds and hearts right on that score, we might as well be up there at the podium with the president, suffering the slings and arrows of unkind reviews and public criticism.
The bottom line?
We should know by now that we cannot depend on man to meet our needs. Only God can do that. Period.