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Right wing reactionaries are completely in charge of all the federal and most of state governments. This wrecking crew is implementing a wholesale dismantling of ALL the democratic social progress achieved over many decades. Unfortunately all of us will live with the consequences. Now is a good time to look at the facts, cut through the misinformation, and remember all the good things we do together using our democratic government. Contrary to the radical Republican mantra, government is GOOD.
For many decades the conservative mantra has been that government is bad. Big government is the problem and not the solution. Everything would be better if we got government “off our backs.” They have been so successful with this message that many “liberal” politicians are afraid to defend successful government programs and the necessary taxes to support vital public infrastructure and services.
There is a great website and book which addresses this subject in wonderful detail. It refutes the conservative propaganda and provides a comprehensive, FACT BASED, case for the government being the essential foundation of the quality of life most of us enjoy. Government is Good, An Unapologetic Defense of a Vital Institution (www.governmentisgood.com) is essential reading for all citizens. The web site and book are by Douglas J. Amy, Professor of Politics, Mount Holyoke College. Professor Amy states the issues this way,
“Make no mistake: the goal of this anti-government movement is not merely to eliminate waste or make the government more efficient. The ultimate aim is to undermine many of the most important and successful government programs that have been in place since the New Deal and the Great Society. They want to slash spending on vital safety net programs like Medicare, Medicaid, Food Stamps, and Social Security. They would like to roll back key regulations protecting consumers, workers, and the environment. And they want to reduce taxes so drastically that many crucial programs and agencies would be starved of funds.”
“Our democratic government is a unique institution that allows us to pool our resources and to act collectively to address the serious social, economic, and environmental problems that we are unable to deal with as individuals. The public sector is also how we provide for essential human needs that are neglected by the market – such as clean air and water, safe workplaces, and economic security. What’s more, government serves as an important instrument of moral action – a way for us to rectify injustices, eliminate suffering, and care for each other. In short, democratic government is one of the main ways we work together to pursue the common good and make the world a better place. If we want an America that is prosperous, healthy, secure, well-educated, just, compassionate, and unpolluted, we need a strong, active, and well-funded public sector” (emphasis added).
The truth is we all depend on government everyday. From the safety of the water in your morning coffee, or the food you eat for breakfast, to the legal system that allows businesses to operate and employ you, to the education needed to get the job, the weather report on TV in the evening, or a secure neighborhood when you go to sleep, government has made your day happen. In many ways we all benefit from government. We could not get along without government. We could never afford to buy all these services on our own.
The services provided by government are essential to our daily lives, our economy, and our futures. A small list would include:
Public infrastructure like roads, water systems, sewer systems, airports and harbors Courts and the legal system Public health, safety, labor, financial, and consumer protection rules Police and firefighters Food, water, product safety Bank deposit insurance
Student financial aid programs
Social Security and Medicare for retirement Public schools, colleges & universities Disease control Medical research and drug development National Weather Service Basic scientific research Retirement program insurance for private business
Disaster relief National, state and local parks for recreation
Professor Amys has specific topical articles that are factual but easy to read. He covers the conservative “War on Government,” explains “Why Government is Good,” and discusses “What is Really Wrong with Government” and “How to fix it.” Our government does have problems. It is not perfect. He says,
“... the main problem with our government is that it is not accountable and responsive enough to the public. We have a deficit of democracy – with special interests too often winning out over the public interest.” “We also need to develop a pro-government coalition in this country. Political groups that depend on active and well-funded government – environmentalists, women, minorities, labor, teachers, etc. – need to move beyond their own narrow policy concerns to embrace a wider political vision that promotes government as a good in itself.” (emphasis added)
The website provides several nice tools to help “re-frame” the debate. “A Day in Your Life” talks about all the many ways government improves your life. The “Guide to Rebutting Right Wing Criticisms of Government” refutes the misleading stereotypes and sound bites. “Test Your Government IQ” is a fun, short quiz that may challenge your ego. Check out this website. Pass it on to your friends, family and co-workers. BUY THE BOOK! . This is a message that needs to be spread far and wide.