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In Defense of Big Government October 24, 2010

Posted by Dwight Furrow in Dwight Furrow's Posts, politics.

I tend to like complexity for its own sake and, because human beings are complex, useful discussions of human activity are usually complex as well.

But sometimes a simple list will make the point just fine. Via Laurie Findrich:

Below is a list of ten good things we have because of our large federal government:

  1. The Internet. This was invented not by entrepreneurs, everybody, but by the United States military.
  2. The Apollo program, culminating in the most marvelous of modern moments, Neil Armstrong’s famous words, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” (Yes, I too had to learn after the event that the word “a” was in there.”)
  3. Interstate highways. Thank you, Eisenhower. True, the invention of the automobile was the work of that vicious genius Henry Ford. And many think the interstate highway system led us in the wrong direction, so to speak, by making us more dependent on automobiles and trucks instead of rail transportation. But imagine driving from New York to Florida without the interstate, and you instantly see the benefits.
  4. Social Security. A federal system of retirement payments for old people prevents those of us who are not yet old, or not poor, from having to step over old people while they lie dying in the streets.
  5. Medicare. Ditto the above.
  6. The National Weather Service. I leave it to your imagination if each state handled weather by itself, or worse, if weather reporting were in the hands of private entrepreneurs. You’d never know there were storms approaching if the paid advertisers included the tourist industry.
  7. National Parks. Without the federal government, there’d be no Yellowstone, no Bryce Canyon, no Washington Monument or Lincoln Memorial.
  8. Free museums in Washington, D.C., all paid for by the Feds. Washington is the only city in the country where you can take your family from one museum to another without paying any admission fees.
  9. The FBI.  Lefties may not like this choice, because the FBI has done some very bad things, and presumably is still doing them (J. Edgar Hoover, for example, was a tyrant, over and out), but should you get kidnapped and taken across state lines this happens), they’re there for you.
  10. Progressive Federal Income Tax. Without this, states would set up a race to the bottom in income tax, with the result that all the rich people and corporations would continuously be on the move. Meanwhile, everybody else would constantly be pulling up stakes to follow them. Normal citizens would be even more frazzled trying to chance jobs than they already are.

And here’s a list of ten things we don’t have because of our large federal government:

  1. Lots and lots of plane crashes. (This one I’ll be thinking about on my way to the airport Wednesday.)
  2. Thalidomide victims (thank you to the FDA, back in the 1960s, for this one).
  3. Segregation (it doesn’t take a big imagination to figure out what some states would have done without the intervention of the federal government).
  4. Runs on banks.
  5. Endless Love Canals, without anyone or any company ever being held accountable.
  6. Employees suffering work-related injuries and diseases without employers being held accountable.
  7. Fire fighters unwilling to cross state lines during forest fires.
  8. Easy transportation, without the need for passports, within the United States.
  9. No disaster relief save for what a particular neighborhood, area or state can muster.
  10. No food stamps to help out the one in five American families who live below the poverty line.

Tea partiers have no answer for this simple list. But it sure will make them angry.

book-section-book-cover2 Dwight Furrow is author of

Reviving the Left: The Need to Restore Liberal Values in America

For political commentary by Dwight Furrow visit: www.revivingliberalism.com



1. Paul J. Moloney - October 26, 2010

We need more government to protect us from those who want less government! If those who want less government stay out of government then we will have less government!

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