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Something I never really expected from writing this column is the amount of positive feedback I receive from many in the community. It is comforting to know there are people who have learned their civics lessons well and are able to see the application of real principles in a working society.

I understand we have special places in our minds. People exhibit various levels of understanding of how their communities are supposed to work, their state’s workings, what the Constitution means and how the federal government conducts the business of running the country.

I have found those who have a high understanding of these things tend not to fear government, but rather work toward making it better. They think, as do I, a well-run government peopled by representatives who have the greater good as their main philosophical position will “raise all boats” so that we all have better, more interesting lives.

This school of thinking was confirmed beginning with the New Deal of President Franklin Roosevelt and its pursuit of Keynesian economics. Government investment in concert with private business built this country into the magnificent land of opportunity it became since World War II. Banks and taxes were well-regulated to prevent chicanery and greed from ruining a good thing for the people. The government seeded many projects and research, giving stupendous opportunities to smart businesses to make pots of money while marketing the best quality product mix in the world.

Then there are those who think government shouldn’t be involved with business and free-market enterprise will take care of everything. History has shown us this hands-off philosophy lets the dark sides of capitalism and human nature loose and causes the working classes to suffer while the rich reap huge benefits.

In fact, this approach to running our country almost ran it into the ground — twice. The first time was called the Great Depression when government sat back and watched 25 percent of our workforce go hungry while waiting for those free-market pressures to kick in. They didn’t. When your consumers don’t have any money to buy things, cash flow to everyone stops. That’s why the wealth of the nation plunged to dark depths in 1929.

We have seen a resurgence of the unproven theory of supply-side economics. Even though its authors won Nobel Prizes for it, it has never yielded anything like its predicted outcomes because of factors that weren’t included in the theory or its experimental trials: human greed.

During the Reagan Administration, “trickle-down” economics was attempted. De-regulation of sound banking rules along with a massive tax cut served to push the country into a huge $6 trillion deficit.

“Never mind,” the supply-siders said. “Free-market enterprise will fix this.” It didn’t. Raising taxes did. Somebody finally realized the government needed revenue to pay for things that benefitted the  nation and provided job opportunities.

The second Bush Administration tried it again, along with even more banking de-regulation, and caused the Great Recession. The tea party grew out of this failed experiment in conservative politics and is wreaking havoc on the Republican Party.

The tea-party types want to cut more taxes and more government spending for those who need it most. They think the Constitution was specifically handwritten for their interpretation without a Bill of Rights, without the ability to tax and without the ability to control runaway financial misbehavior. They say they want to take back their country. But clearly they do not know from where it came. These little tidbits of history are inconvenient truths for those who haven’t yet learned what a society of all the people is.

I wonder how hard the lessons will have to be before those extremist fringes understand the economic and social programs that work are meant for them as well.  Floating all boats isn’t meant to be a selfish exercise.

Turner is a retired teacher and industrial engineer who lives near Marble Falls. He is an independent columnist, not a staff member, and his views do not necessarily reflect those of The Tribune or its parent company. "The Voter’s Guide to National Salvation" is a newly published e-book from Turner. You can find it at He can be reached by e-mail at