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Another good read, from beerm:


Government does well

The great success of the American Government is that it is largely invisible. I am not talking about secrecy, what I am talking about is the number of things that the goverment does that are taken for granted by Americans.

Everyday, people drive on roads built and maintained by the government. You go to the supermarket and do not worry that your meat and milk is tainted. You turn on the tap and clean water comes out, the dirty water then flows down the drain, often because of the government. You call the police, the fire department and they come. You can mail your payments through the mail. A lot of these things don't happen in other countries.

The government was good enough to win WWII, put men on the moon, and bailout the "financial experts" both in the 30's and now.

The number of things that the government enables on a daily basis is astounding. It is also largely unnoticed until if fails. What is amazing about something like the I-35 bridge collapse is that it is the exception, not the rule.

Few people realize that less than 10% of the federal budget is debated publicly. Most of the spending goes to continuing things like food inspectors, bridge inspectors, etc. all the little things that we rely on being there during our daily life.

My 13 year old son and I started having this discussion yesterday because of our local library. I pointed out that the government funded the library because it was a public good. He noted that not everyone used the library. I noted that it was available if they wanted. Not all countries have public libraries. Try finding a Salman Rushdie book in a Saudi library, I'll bet you can find a Koran in ours.

(I would like to note that my 13 year old, along with many of his classmates, asks more intelligent guestions than anybody on Fox News. )

The government is different from private industry in a couple of notable ways.

First, it is largely undercapitalized for the things that it does. Few companies would want to run the National Parks on the Park Service budget.

Second, it does its business in public. As we are finding out many CEO and boardrooms cannot stand the public scrutiny that is leveled on the government everyday.

Ronald Reagan was grandstanding. It is easy to find mikstakes, even wrongdoing in an organization with millions of employees. There is not another company with as many employees. Reagan was dead wrong in stating that government was the problem. The real problem was that Reagan didn't understand the government and what it does for people.



In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Oct 14th, 2008 at 10:43:04 AM EST
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