Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Government, Boo! Services, Yay!

The unfolding ecological disaster of the massive oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico has, if nothing else, clearly demonstrated the foolishness of those who demand smaller, less intrusive, and cheaper government, yet also demand all the things that larger government provides.

Every day the oil spill goes on, we hear people like Louisiana's conservative Republican governor Bobby Jindal thunder to the cameras, asking why isn't the federal government doing more to help us?

So, let me see if I have this right...

Big, expensive, and intrusive government is bad. Except when you need its help.

We see the same thing each time a crowd of older Tea Party activists demand lower taxes and an end to expensive government programs ... except for Social Security and Medicare, of course.

We saw it when the terrifying disaster of Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and much of the Gulf Coast. Everybody wanted Federal assistance, largely because no responsible planning and organization had been done at the state level ... but God forbid we should have to pay the taxes that pay for that assistance.

We can't have it both ways.

Bloated and inefficient government is indeed bad, and we Americans have a long-standing distrust of distant governments taxing, spending, and ruling by fiat without input from the citizens (just ask King George III how that worked out). The problem is that it's easy to rail about the evils of big government as long as we don't need the things big government provides, and it's hard to define just how big and expensive a national government needs to be. What are the legitimate functions of the federal government as opposed to state government? And what is an appropriate level of taxation to impose on the citizens to pay for it?

Unfortunately, we're not having that discussion. Instead, we're hearing nothing but overheated rhetoric that lost contact with social and economic reality. We're hearing populist claptrap that gets politicians elected, but doesn't solve problems.

So what do you think? If you want all the things a big, paternalistic government provides, but want lower taxes, tell me how you propose to pay for it. And don't tell me that you'll pay for it by "eliminating fraud and waste" - show me specifically what fraud and waste you propose to eliminate.

Because letting China finance your government is not a good thing.

Think before you demonstrate. Be realistic. Shouting slogans is easy ... coming up with reasonable, affordable programs is hard.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.



Phfrankie Bondo said...

...I believe you hit the nail on the head, sir...

John said...

Conservative Response: In typical liberal fashion, you are confusing the issue with the facts.

Liberal Response: In typical conservative fashion, you are confusing the issue with the facts.

Tea Bagger Response: Don't confuse me with the Conservatives or Liberals. I know the Constitution and what's best for the US, facts be damned.

Mike said...

"populist claptrap'

DOWN WITH 'fill in the blank' FOREVER!!!!!

Leslie David said...

Well, by not being the world's police force we can save a lot of money--bring our soldiers home from Iraq and Afghanistan. Stop paying money to corrupt governments that don't have the best interest of their citizens. Do we really still need all the military installations in Europe? It's not like the Russians are going to attack us anytime soon. I'm not saying draw down the military which we tend to do in peacetime, but a lot of our expensive toys are probably not needed unless we're replacing or upgrading to make them more energy efficient. Use the money saved to retrain our people, push for higher standards of education, so more teachers, smaller classes, more emphasis on education and less on religious bs in the classroom (yes I understand there's supposed to be a separation between church and state, so enforce it. Reward excellence and innovation, not mediocrity. If VW can make a 3-cylinder car that gets 71 mpg, why aren't we producing something like it? Why is Kawasaki producing the new railcars for the expanding Metro system? The Prius has been around for how long and the price hasn't come down for everyone to afford one, plus the technology is so yesterday. I don't mind paying taxes for things that benefit all people, but I'm tired of paying to suppport tax cuts to industries that cut jobs here and don't pay their fair share of taxes anyway.