Monday, July 4, 2011

no government, really?

We're just back from the Crested Butte 4th of July parade; a small-town American icon if there is one.  Over about an hour many floats, many quite funny, march down the main street (Elk Ave.) in Crested Butte, Colorado.  This year there were no guys snowboarding off a pickup, over a jump, and through a ring of fire (boo hoo, they're missed!), but there was a solitary guy carrying a sign proclaiming that all government was bad, that there shouldn't be taxes, grants, or government intervention in people's lives.  Some people next to me stood up and clapped.  I (civilly) restrained from commenting.

No government, huh?  Ok, who's going to try to ensure that rancid meat isn't sold?  Who's going to try to ensure that medicines we buy are safe?  Who's going to try to ensure that poisons are not put in our milk?  And, who is going to try to ensure that we don't pollute the air and water we all need?  All of these things happen with greater frequency that we like in countries without strong government regulations.  Who is going to fund the basic research that stimulates the applied research that leads to new medicines, inventions, and sources of energy?  Who is going to pave the roads?  Who is going to provide a police force?  Who is going to try to enforce equality laws?

I'm the last one to want inefficient government, but no government?  No taxes?  No thanks!

Discussion topic
What government services are essential?  Discuss these broadly: before removing a government service think what the consequences are for people and especially the poor and for the environment...two things that I believe need government oversight.  How do we, as citizens, lobby for a more accountable and effective government without throwing the baby out with the bathwater?  Or should we throw the baby out with the bathwater?

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