7 Nov 2011

A tale of two extremes

Alex says:
What has the government done for me lately?

Roads, highways, bridges, railroads, air travel, schools, police, firefighters, teachers, doctors, nurses, UC education, civil defense, national defense, freedom to worship, freedom of expression, speed limits, drunk driving limits, food quality regulations, biotechnology, solar panels, nuclear power, natural gas, semiconductors, microchips, jet engines, personal computers, GPS, the accelerometer, cell phones, and the Internet.
Some people will disagree, e.g., Julie Webster (via RM) told the biologists that
“Most of us here don’t give a big hoot for your salmon.”

Webster went on to say that she felt environmental regulation is the cause of many social problems in the county, including unemployment, divorce, child abuse, alcoholism and drug abuse.
 I reckon the truth is more in the middle. My reply to Alex was:
The Federal government is NOT a person that gives us stuff like Santa. It's a machine that takes taxes in and produces output.
  • Some of the output is worth less than the cost (name a few dams)
  • Other output is less than worthless (ethanol program), 
  • Other output could be done, better, by private enterprise (Amtrak, postal service), and 
  • There's some stuff that government has done well and can't be done better (law and order).
Bottom Line: Government can produce good and bad results in programs that it must or need not pursue.