Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Government is GOOD, so why to so many people think government is BAD?

Douglas J. Amy, Professor of Politics at Mount Holyoke College, has an excellent website called Government is Good that more people should visit.  Amy reminds us on his site about all the ways we depend upon government in our daily lives.  Please do yourself a favor and visit his site.  In particular, read his article on a day in the life of an average American= http://www.governmentisgood.com/articles.php?aid=1&p=3
I discussed findings from Pew Research in a recent post that suggest that regardless of what you might hear, Americans really DO like their government.  Why is it then that so many people, so much of the time accept or at least fail to object to the often repeated Conservative refrain that government is bad and even evil?  Amy says he thinks he knows why.

First, says Amy, most of us, most of the time just take the benefits of government for granted.  This is particularly true of benefits derived from government programs like clean water and a stable currency.  We have had them so long, they just seem to be there.  The fact that they are there because of government fades from memory.

Second, says Amy, we don’t recognize the benefits of government because the benefits government provides are different from other benefits like exchanges in the marketplace.  At a store, we pay money and usually get something tangible in return immediately—food, clothing, a piece of electronic equipment, etc.  It’s not the same with government.  With government, we pay taxes but we rarely see what we get for our taxes immediately or the return seems remote.  We don’t make a connection between our taxes and weather forecasts or clean water and yet, those are the kinds of benefits that governments provide. 

Third, says Amy, in the marketplace when we pay money we get something—a car, clothes, food, etc.  When we pay taxes, what we get from government is often the absence of something—tainted food, impure water, crime, banks that don’t fail, bridges that don’t collapse, and so on.
Finally, says Amy, we don’t appreciate government because government has been subject to a well orchestrated Conservative smear campaign for decades, a campaign that is rarely countered or exposed by the media.  “[Conservatives] have relentlessly promoted a series of negative stereotypes about government, invoking ominous images of “Big Brother” and the “Taxman.” They have blindly ignored everything that is right with government and aggressively advanced a vision of government as a dark force in society. We have been continually told that government is inefficient, ineffective, corrupt, oppressive, overly expensive, and bad for business. The core message has been clear: government doesn’t help us, it hurts us; it doesn’t solve problems, it is the problem. This claim that “government is bad” has been a central political theme in virtually every Republican election campaign during the last three decades.”

Note: This government smear campaign has been well-funded by usually rich Americans who want to do things that would be good for them or their companies but would be harmful to the average American.  For example, they want LESS environmental regulation because they and their companies could make MORE money it they could just dump toxic wastes anywhere they wanted.  They and their companies would make MORE money if they didn't have to abide by rules and regulations designed to protect consumers from tainted food and dangerous consumer products. 

Conservative talk radio and news outlets like Fox News, funded by very rich people who care only about themselves, serve up constant daily diatribes against “wasteful government programs,” “ridiculous government regulations,” and so on designed to convince the average American voter to elect public officials who will place the welfare of the few ahead of the welfare of the many.  Even in the mainstream media, we rarely hear about government programs that work, although most do work and usually very well.  Stories about mistakes, errors, waste and things that go wrong are usually seen by the media as much more interesting that stories about things that the government gets right--property that is protected, lives that are saved, and other benefits of good government.

Get the real facts about government.  Visit Amy’s site here:  http://www.governmentisgood.com/index.php  The next time your Conservative Republican and Tea Party friends start mouthing off about how bad and wasteful and evil government is send them to Amy’s site.  Read his Day in Your Life article to them.  Make them listen.  Government isn’t bad.  Most of the time government is GOOD, VERY GOOD.  You don’t want to leave home, or stay home, without it.

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