Monday, October 25, 2010

Demonizing Government Is Not Smart!

Dwight Eisenhower famously cautioned us to... "beware the military industrial complex." What he was warning us about was an atmosphere in which the private sector co-opts the public sector for the benefit of their bottom line. That has pretty much happened in the U.S. because the electorate has bought the line t...hat the private sector is good and the public sector is bad; that government is bad.

Ronald Reagan was good at delivering snappy lines including, "Government isn't the answer. Government is the problem." Then he proceeded to lead us into a substantial recession and left us with more debt than our government had accumulated in its history. That's bad governance. Government isn't bad. Bad governing is.

That's why Bill Clinton's "middle-way" succeeded in leaving us with a balanced budget and a surplus for the first time in decades. He recognized that the private sector has a place in our society but there are things that government can do if they're well managed. I disagreed with him on many issues but he certainly worked with a Republican Congress to put us on the road to recovery.

Then George W Bush spent every dollar of that surplus and trillions more by granting tax breaks while launching two wars that we could ill afford. He insisted that government is bad; that the private sector could solve our problems if we just reduced taxes and got out of their way. I didn't agree with Bush on much of anything, although I supported his approach to immigration reform but he just didn't seem to understand that government isn't bad; bad governing is.

Right now our government is struggling to dig us out of a recession bordering on depression at a time when people seem to buy the concept that Ronald Regan and George W Bush put forth; that government is the problem.

There's a roll for the private sector and one for the public sector and we must be vigilant to negotiate a proper balance between the two.

We all want strong national security, public education, safe prescription drugs, clean air & water, well built bridges & highways, scenic national parks, comfortable retirement and health care for our elders and we don't seem to want to pay for them.

Remember: government isn't bad; bad governing is.

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