Federal help :Big government isn't always so bad 2011.09.21

Written by David Green.

The hypocrisy is, as they say, thick enough to cut with a knife.

It’s certainly nothing new—politicians’ words often stray from their actions—but it seems to have multiplied greatly during the nation’s challenges of the past three years.

The hypocrisy really got going with the distribution of “stimulus funds” as politicians railed against the expenditure of federal dollars, then later took credit for the jobs and projects the money created.

Next came the Gulf oil spill of July 2010. A little more than a year before that tragedy, Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal said in a speech, “There has never been a challenge that the American people, with as little interference as possible by the federal government, cannot handle.”

Then came the spill and Jindal is still seeking “interference” from the federal government. Among many politicians, the call for small government turned to criticism of the federal government for not taking a larger role.

The sanctimonious actions multiplied again this year as a string of extreme weather events challenged state and local budgets in many areas of the country.

Of course it’s the most vocal opponents of government who look the worst when they later decide that government needs to be big enough to help them through a tragedy.

In 2009, Texas governor Rick Perry hated government so much that he talked about his state seceding from the Union. 

Then came the wildfires.

Last month the governor said, “I full well expect the federal government to come in to do their part.” Fortunately for Texans, the state is still part of the United States.

It’s easy to get a chuckle from the foibles of a few individuals, but the concern about their beliefs goes deeper than merely noting their hypocrisy. The growing attitude that government is bad can lead to changes that affect all of us.

Of course the federal government is bloated. Certainly there’s waste and reform is needed. It’s an enormous undertaking in a country this large. But does that mean government is bad?

The answer depends on what you like about life in America. If you’ve been unemployed, you probably think that unemployment insurance is important. If you’re a low wage earner, you appreciate the existence of a minimum wage. If you’re a parent, you might be thankful for laws in place regarding child labor.

These examples are given because there are small-government politicians who want to cut them all out. Women appreciate laws giving them equal standing in the workplace. People living near industries benefit from environmental regulations—something the Chinese can only wish for.

There are major political figures wanting to get rid of Medicare and eliminate Social Security or base it on the whims of the stock market. Be careful with your vote; you might not appreciate the consequences.

Is government our enemy? Just wait until the next disaster and we’ll talk it over.

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