Big Government, Little Government

JUST WHAT ARE YOU WILLING TO PAY FOR?

More Thrill of Getting Published.

The whole warped argument about our national debt must be seen in a different light if we are ever going to see the light. I took a modest whack at it in this piece, printed in The Mountain View Telegraph, one of our weeklies hereabouts.

(Unreadable, but cute, no?)

Here 'tis, readable:

What Are Your Government Wants?

Thursday, 21 July 2011 09:09
Willis Duff
Tijeras resident

The word "government" has been mutated by some into "monster," a conniving enormity out to "get in your way." Perhaps it's because the combination of local, state and federal government is just too big for us to see clearly, like fleas have trouble seeing the dog. So it must be a monster.

In truth, government is a huge nonprofit whose purpose is to keep our civilization functioning the way we want it to.

In the U.S., the government works for you. You are the client. "You" are all of us citizens. We-the-people. And government does mostly things only government does.

Providing for a court system for instance. Or national defense, or highways. Or regulations and oversight of things potentially harmful or to us. It springs to our aid in natural disasters.

Government clearly is not-for-profit. Nobody makes any profit except those private businesses government hires to do build warships, highways and such. Private companies make profits; government does not.

We - most of us anyway - pay with taxes for this gigantic "corporation." Who pays how much is good for spirited discussion, but the basic issue is how much total tax is paid by all of us. Is it enough to actually pay the bills? If it's not, the country goes further into debt. It's as simple as that, and that's exactly how we got this humongous debt.

National debt should only happen when it's absolutely necessary - and it sometimes is. Let's go with the analogy of making a big purchase, say a house, when most of us have to borrow - and then that debt should be paid off in a responsible fashion. For some time now our taxes just aren't enough to pay the mortgage. We live high and pay low. Our government has been buying a big "house," going into debt to do it, and we can't - or won't - make the mortgage payments.

We can only fix this problem by answering the question: "More taxes or less government?" Or some of both? To get an answer, we first have to ask, "what do you want/expect government to do?" Or, to keep the analogy going, what kind of "house" are you willing to pay for?

The answers to this complex question tend to be simplistic. Bumper sticker answers. The right wants "less government" in general, but mostly stumbles on what it wants less of. The left is shy about saying so, but basically it wants "more government." There are surely huge numbers of folks in the rational middle between left and right. Oh sorry, that's not mentioned much in today's stranger and stranger United States.

Now since I brought this up, you might ask, "What in the world do you want/expect from government? And are you ready to pay for it? Just what is on your list?" OK ...

I want, and I'm ready to pay for:

1. Good regulations - meaning enough to keep 'em honest - in areas like pharmaceuticals, banking, education, investment, transportation, utilities, insurance, food, law enforcement, chemicals, real estate, telephones, energy, health care, children's things, government ... you get the drift, important stuff.

2. Universal, high quality education for every American child for as far as she can go with it.

3. A fair "playing field" in this competitive world for American workers.

4. (And most unlikely) Politicians who listen to their constituents, not their monied supporters and their lobbyists.

5. The USA not slipping out of world leadership.


That's my list. I showed you mine, now you show me yours.


Perhaps government cannot create jobs like the WPA program, etc., but just properly staffing the regulatory agencies (as opposed to cutting them, ala the Republican plans) would create a lot of good jobs in a good cause.


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