No matter what anybody else tries to tell you, your governments, at every level, are hard at work supplying the services and benefits we take for granted. After reading the following summary of government actions, make a list of those things you want government to eliminate from their to-do lists.
Teachers help educate our children.
Firemen try to save our property from destruction.
Law-enforcement personnel try to keep us safe.
Paramedics and ambulance drivers take our sick and injured to hospitals.
Military service men and women don’t ask why they are told to "do or die" in order to preserve our freedom in spite of terrible decisions made by incompetent leaders.
Air-traffic controllers keep our planes from crashing.
Librarians in our public sector serve our curiosities and keep us literate.
Museum curators maintain collections of science and art.
Many of us receive our checks from Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid with clockwork regularity. If you’re a veteran, the Veterans Administration performs and pays for your needs and disabilities.
How can we possibly forget those government workers who inspect our roads, bridges, dams, subways, airplanes, railroad tracks and equipment? We can’t, because if they stopped doing their jobs, the country would come to a screeching halt in a matter of days.
Then there are the dedicated public servants who check our food, beverages and medicines to ensure that some wacko isn’t trying to poison us, or the suppliers are keeping up with the laws that protect us.
We can’t forget the safety inspectors who discovered melamine in pet food, or vehicles with dangerous defects, or toys with lead-based paint or small parts that endanger child development. Of course, some leaders of our government saw fit to cut some of those jobs because the laws annoyed the businesses that were trying to make a bigger profit.
Then there are the guaranteed government loans for college, housing and starting a business, the lifeblood of our economy.
Now, we have the constitutionally ordered census running into resistance from those who think our government is "invasive."
There are citizens shooting at census workers. Did anybody ever tell these people the reason we take a census is to know how to budget for services so our society can function?
People, family and friends, who are worried about fiscal irresponsibility tell me our government has "got to stop spending." When I agree and ask where we should cut, I see this kind of scrunched-up look followed by, "Well, we should stop paying so much welfare to those lazy bums who won’t work."
"Fine" I say. "But what about those people who want work but can’t find a job that will support their families?"
The conversation usually stops.
Our military budget is about $800 billion. We spend more our military hardware and personnel than all the next largest 30 nations (all but six of which are our allies) combined. Yet we still borrow billions to keep at two wars that have no clear endpoint, and build exotic weapon systems that have no mission Anybody who has read this far has the intelligence to see where spending cuts can happen.
We also hear a great hue and cry from our citizens about our tax burden. Our citizens have the lowest per capita tax burden as a percent of gross domestic product of any other industrialized nation. Yet our political environment and our spoiled citizens are reluctant to pay more in taxes to reduce the national debt and the deficit.
As Shakespeare might say, "Aye, there’s the rub."
Turner is a retired teacher and industrial engineer who lives near Marble Falls.