Monday, September 27, 2010


I think what some people—(and here, yes, I’m probably mostly talking about Tea Party and Libertarian nutjobs, not to mention conservative Republicans and the whole host of characters like the hated Tim Eyeman who consistently call for reduced taxes and “smaller” government)—is that “government” is not some monolithic enterprise voraciously sucking up every spare dollar it can for no reason whatsoever other than to feed itself; “government” such as it is when it comes to what your average citizen pays from payroll deduction, sales tax, and other fees is stuff that none of us can live (well) without: roads, schools, environmental protections, water, power, sewers, hospitals, police, fire departments, ambulances, as well as arts, culture, swimming pools, parks, and all sort of other things most of take for granted every day of our lives.

Above all, government is people doing things for other people: teaching them, caring for them, making sure that they aren’t poisoned, crushed by falling objects, or arrested for no reason (most of the time.)

Sure, there are fatcat politicians who belly up to the public trough and just glut themselves on “our” hard-earned money, but I would venture to say that most of their gluttony is paid for by so-called “special interest” groups rather solely by public funds.

And yes, there’s no doubt plenty of “waste” in government, but if my government job is any indication, not nearly as much as those anti-tax voices would have you believe. My college’s cutbacks due to the current budget crisis are tangible: we’ve lost support for service learning, for guest speakers in classes, for technology upgrades, for student services like tutoring and disability support; it’s not as if we’ve gotten more “efficient” by cutting out boondoggle junkets by faculty members to strip clubs and tropical resorts.

“Taxes are the price we pay for civilized society” said legendary jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes; come to think of it, the Supreme Court is part of government, too.


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