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
- Medicare, Obamacare
- State Department
- Social Security (bankrupt, unsustainable)
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.
Legislators 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