In an online argument, I challenged someone to name one way in which government helps people. I was referred to the following three articles, which you can peruse for yourself. They all make easily refutable arguments. Most of the them rely on the logic that if government didn’t things (by force), nobody would do them. It’s like saying that if slaves didn’t pick cotton, nobody would pick cotton.
A Day in Your Life
Though we usually fail to notice it, government programs and policies improve our daily lives in innumerable ways.
Ask yourself this question: “What has government done for me lately?” If you are like most Americans, you will probably answer: “Not much.” Many people feel like they pay a lot in taxes but don’t really get anything back from government. Surveys show that 52% of Americans believe that “government programs have not really helped me and my family.”1 But let’s see if that is really true. Let’s examine a typical day in the life of an average middle-class American and try to identify some of the ways that government improves that person’s life during that 24-hour period.
6:30 a.m. You are awakened by your clock radio. You know it is actually 6:30 because the National Institute of Standards and Technology keeps the official time. And you can listen to your favorite radio station only because the Federal Communications Commission brings organization and coherence to our vast telecommunications system. It ensures, for example, that radio stations do not overlap and that stations signals are not interfered with by the numerous other devices – cell phones, satellite television, wireless computers, etc. – whose signals crowd our nation’s airwaves.
6:35 a.m. Like 17 million other Americans, you have asthma. But as you get out of bed you notice that you are breathing freely this morning. This is thanks in part to government clean air laws that reduce the air pollution that would otherwise greatly worsen your condition.
6:38 a.m. You go into the kitchen for breakfast. You pour some water into your coffeemaker. You simply take for granted that this water is safe to drink. (Read more)
The 10 best things government has done for us
1.) Protecting our freedoms. Our political and economic rights are the foundation of our democracy and capitalist economy. Without them, we’d be nothing.
We often think of our rights as a protection against the heavy hand of government, but we shouldn’t ignore the contribution that the people through their government have made in expanding those rights since the early days of the republic, when they applied only to white men with property.
Liberals who look fondly upon the government as a benevolent force often do so because the federal government was on their side in the great battles to abolish slavery and to extend rights to African-Americans, women, Native Americans, immigrants, workers, gays and many others. Liberals don’t like big government; they like a good and just government. For their part, conservatives want a government that enforces property rights and protects us against tyranny.
Slide Show: What the U.S. government has given us .
2.) Giving away the land. The United States developed as one of the most egalitarian nations in history, mostly because the government gave away millions of acres of land and sold more at rock-bottom prices to regular people who worked that land and made it productive. From the Land Ordinance of 1785 right on to the Homestead Act of 1862, the government offered cheap or free land to people who would have been serfs or indentured servants in any other society. The government gave poor but hard-working people a stake in their country. Other government programs gave away valuable mining and timber land for a pittance. Many a fortune owes its genesis to the government.
3.) Educating everybody. Our economy and democracy would be impossible without an educated, skilled populace. From the beginning of our nation, offering free and universal public education has been one of the most important functions of government. The federal government has always had a role, from the 1785 Land Act and the land-grant colleges established under Lincoln to the GI Bill and beyond. It’s no accident that America leads the world in technological innovation.
4.) Helping us retire with dignity. Social Security and Medicare keep millions of Americans out of poverty, allowing them to live out their lives in dignity. And these essential programs are provided by government at far less cost than would be possible from the private sector.
5) Improving public health. . . . (Read more)
Name 10 things the government does well
1. The FAA. Crashes are a rarity here, thanks to equipment safety tests and massively successful air flight controlling.
2. Medicaid: private sector insurance companies make money by ditching their customers when they get very sick. Medicaid picks up the castoffs.
3. Social Security: What if Mr. Bush had succeeded in privatizing SS before the markets crashed? Can you imagine how many old people would be working at WalMart, since their SS would have been cut in half? And did you know that before SS, thousands of older Americans simply starved to death?