AMERICA’S GOVERNMENT - PART II
Reagan loved to say this, too. Government does nothing well? Free enterprise built America? All government does is take money from productive citizens and give it to freeloaders?
Many Americans believe all this and more, because they’ve been fed this line for generations. To accept this as truth requires a complete ignorance of American history… ignorance which rich and powerful beneficiaries of anti-government ideologies are only too happy to provide.
What has government actually done to build America? Here is a partial list…
1) built the first National Highway in the 1790s, the “Highway to Empire”
2) built the canals allowing “western” agriculture (western NY, OH, IL etc.) to expand by reaching eastern markets
3) cleared out the Indians for white settlement, (I’m not saying all of this is good.)
4) gave away 160 million acres of free land as homestead grants.
5) began public higher education by building land grant colleges
6) built the transcontinental railroad
7) brought water to the West, allowing CA, AZ, NM, etc. to exist.
8) created the mass middle class after World War II with GI mortgage and education programs
9) built the interstate highway system
10) created the market for desktop computers with Pentagon bulk purchases. (That’s how Ross Perot made his fortune.)
11) made the Internet possible with government satellites.
These are all things the “free enterprise” private sector could not or would not do. Government’s role has always been to build the infrastructure for prosperity, thereby allowing individuals and businesses to grow. This anti-government rhetoric so poisonous in our midst today is cheap, self-serving and, if you know our history… unAmerican.
I would add:
12) Ended bank robbery as a profitable crime, by making it a Federal offense and turning the FBI on them.
13) Ditto for kidnapping.
14) Gave the elderly a chance at something besides living with and off their children with Social Security.
15) Invested in basic scientific research for years, which eventually created the Space Age and too many technological innovations to count.
16) The FAA, which made safe air travel possible and popular.
17) The FCC, which brought nationwide radio and television.
18) TVA and the Rural Electrification Program which brought reasonably priced electricity to the vast majority of the country, especially including all the red states.
19) Gave a national franchise to the Bell System, which required reasonably priced phone service to those same red states.
20) The SEC, which for 70 years prevented the implosion of the financial system which immediately began after the agency’s oversight mission was gutted in the late 90s.
21) USDA inspectors, who let us be reasonably sure we were eating food that wouldn’t kill us, again until the agency’s oversight capability was gutted in the late 90s.
22) The US Mint, without whom we’d all have to swap currency at every state line. I kind of enjoy knowing my money’s worth the same in California as it is here.
The next time you meet a “self-made” rich conservative, ask where it would be today without all of the above.