"No matter how paranoid or conspiracy-minded you are, what the government is actually doing is worse than you imagine." - - - William Blum

May 02, 2005

Government Is Not The Problem

In today's guest blog, Alon Barlevy examines the true purpose of a government:

by Alon Barlevy, PhD. - President, Hubert Humphrey Democratic Club

Republicans love to demonize the government. They characterize the government as a vast, inept, and overbearing institution that wants to control our lives. In his first inaugural address, Ronald Reagan said that “Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem.” Republicans think that people should reduce their dependence on government, and rely more on themselves.

Can we live without government? What does the government provide us? Let’s put a face on the government. Government is the police officer who risks her life to keep our streets safe, the firefighter who protects our lives and property, the guard who keeps a watch over the inmates that we do not want walking the streets, the astronaut that explores and extends our understanding of space, the teacher who educates our children, the soldier who puts his life on the line to protect our freedom .... The list goes on and on.

The government has lots of three and four letter agencies, and each one performs an important task that is vital to our lives. The FAA keeps our skies safe and makes sure that airplanes do not collide with one another. In case the FAA fails, such as in the skies over Cerritos back in 1986, the NTSB investigates and makes recommendations to prevent a recurrence. The SEC ensures that the crown jewel of capitalism, the stock market, is a fair playing field. The FDIC insures the money we deposit in the bank. The FDA makes sure that our food supply is safe and the drugs that are on the market have been rigorously tested. The FTC gives consumers a voice against large corporations. OSHA gives us safe working environment. FEMA comes in every time there is a disaster such as an earthquake, a flood, or hurricane. The CDC keeps us safe from epidemics. Here too, the list can fill many pages.

Can I rely on myself for all the services that the government does for me? How could I? There are not enough hours in the day, nor days in the week to accomplish all that. Even if time was not an issue, I don't think I am talented enough to competently perform all the services that government provides me.

Undoubtedly, all those services must somehow be paid for. This brings us to the three-letter agency that we all dread: the IRS. However, the IRS, too, has an important role in our lives. As the great Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said, "Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society". I therefore want the IRS to make sure that my neighbor pays her fair share, and she wants the IRS to make sure that I pay my fair share.

Democrats, of course, do not naively believe that the government is perfect and cannot be improved. We should always work towards making government more responsive to our needs, rather than label the government as the biggest obstacle in our lives.

Bush-war intends on reducing or eliminating nearly all of these agencies (except for maybe the IRS) and many more. These are profound measures that call for Democrats to start acting truly desperate for a change and actively countering the Republicans destructive trendencies.

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