Why do we need government at all?
Is there anyone who just loves government? Seriously, does anyone like a trip to the DMV, paying for your dog license or paying taxes?
And yet one political party (we only have two viable parties right now) endlessly campaigns against government, as though government has fans somewhere. It does not.
Since we all hate government, and taxes, why not side with the people who are against taxes, against regulation and against government mettling in our lives at all?
It would be so easy were it not so incredibly simplistic and dishonest to oppose all things government.
The problem is without “Big Government”, who regulates the control of poisoned toys sold to our children with lead-based paints coating them?
Without government, who keeps our airlines from flying unsafe planes to avoid maintenance costs?
Who keeps the big international banks headquartered in the U.S. from gambling away our wealth while paying themselves millions for doing so?
Who will keep our farm products from using antibiotics that harm us in our food supply?
How will we insure that the lunches served in our schools are at least as safe as a trip to McDonalds?
Without “Big Government” who builds Interstate highways, airports or develops the technology to travel to the moon?
Without “Big Government” who insures our seniors do not end their lives in abject poverty, lacking food and medical care when they need it?
Now, there are certainly a lot of problems with government.
First, there is that nasty tax thing.
The Tea Partiers remind us how much they are unhappy with taxes. Yet our taxes are at their lowest in 50 years and are among the lowest of all developed nations.
Then, there is the problem that Big Business tends to buy the regulators and the government that supports them.
Consider the FAA and its incredible inability to do anything but ignore the very laws it was created to enforce.
Or consider the SEC, the theoretical regulatory agency for our equity markets that simply ignored the practices that almost took the planet into economic collapse.
Yes, the fact is “Big Business” finds it easier to corrupt regulators than to follow laws. And, with the power of special interests lobbying our elected officials, they also find it easier to buy favorable law than compete in the marketplace.
Big government has deep flaws. Serious failures.
But what Americans want are safe toys, safe foods, safe school lunches, security for themselves in their older years and good roads and schools. Americans want the best technology and the strongest economy for regular folks, not the best economy for the very rich alone.
The angst of voters is not situated in the belief that government is hopelessly bad and should be ended, but in the belief that we can and should expect our regulators to regulate and our legislators to pass laws that are for the people and not exclusively for the corporations that spend so much to assert their will in law.
Our Republican friends remind us that overregulation is bad for business, but what we have found is the opposite … under-regulation is bad for America.
Americans, as individuals, cannot inspect toys imported from China or cars that do not stop. But those things need oversight for the quality of life in America.
The Tea Partiers, the Republican conservatives and the large corporations tell us we need to unfetter big business.
They are wrong.
We need to use government effectively to protect all of us from those who would harm us for simple profits.
Jim Crawford is a contributing columnist for The Tribune and a former educator at Ohio University Southern.