Disparaging government

c kochI’m from the government, and I’m here to help.–attributed to Ronald Reagan

Recent years have seen a wide-ranging attack on government–Federal, State, and local. The main justification is a platitude–the smaller the better. We are told:

  • Government is ineffectual, blundering, bloated; it can do nothing right.
  • Government usurps the right of the people to liberty.
  • Government is wasteful–money spent by government serves no worthwhile purpose.
  • Taxes are illegitimate, unfair, constitute theft.

The idea behind this propaganda attack is that anything done by government can be better done by individuals or business. Astonishingly, these ideas are often promoted by legislators–government employees responsible for efficient government. Specifically, attacks have focused on:

  • Education, public schools
  • Federal Reserve
  • FEMA
  • Medicare, Obamacare
  • IRS
  • State Department
  • Taxes
  • Social Security (bankrupt, unsustainable)
  • VA

The motivation for these attacks is not the public interest but private profit–private schools, private health insurance, private prisons. Yet the idea that private is necessarily better than public is an unjustified assumption often demonstratively false.

povertyLegislators participating in the chorus of complaints are creating a problem for themselves.  History and experience strongly suggest that government is necessary. When legislators must appropriate money, raise the debt ceiling, pass needed legislation, or respond to emergencies, the idea that government is ineffectual, unnecessary, and unreasonably expensive makes timely action difficult.

© William Hungerford – December 2014

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About whungerford

* Contributor at NewNY23rd.com where we discuss the politics, economics, and events of the New New York 23rd Congressional District (Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Chemung, (Eastern) Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben,Tioga, Tompkins, and Yates Counties) Please visit and comment on whatever strikes your fancy.
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5 Responses to Disparaging government

  1. josephurban says:

    My take. There are only two extremely powerful forces in the world. Governments and multinational corporations. In a democracy people can have some say and some control over the government. If corporations dominate regular folks suffer. Deregulation only allows short term profits at the expense of long term environmental issues and long term planning. We see the results of this i the deterioration of education, the infrastructure and the middle class wages. When government becomes dominated by corporate interests (Citizens United codified that ) the people have effectively been pushed out of the system of decision making process.
    “Smaller” government , simply put, means more power to the multinational corporations. there is no way around it. If anyone thinks that “smaller” government somehow provides more freedom for individuals they are living in a fantasy world. The only guarantor of freedom IS the government.

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  2. whungerford says:

    The size of the government may be less an issue than the government’s focus. Business interests needn’t be concerned if the FDA would work closely with drug companies, if the SEC were friendly to banks and security traders, if the EPA were tolerant of polluters, if Justice Dept. lawyers were all proud graduates of Liberty U., if the IRS didn’t look too closely at suspicious tax returns.

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  3. deb Meeker says:

    Interesting isn’t it, that the term “government” can mean most anything from the local town assembly woman to the President of the United States. All elected (or not) by We the People. When people either can’t or won’t take a vested interest in their government, the result is obvious. Those with the coins, call the tune.

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  4. Barbara Griffin says:

    Sadly, too many of our citizens are not interested in what’s going on…don’t take the time to research the candidates, and either vote blindly along party lines, or don’t vote at all. I suspect that many feel powerless because both parties are so corrupt, why bother to vote? Some are simply struggling to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads, and have no time or energy to get involved in the big picture. Enter gerrymandering…voter suppression…mass media propaganda. Corporate powers want the people to be anti-government, since our government is the only thing standing in their way of complete control. The game is rigged.

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  5. Deb Meeker says:

    Well and rightly said, Barbara.

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