I am asking for your help in understanding a couple of popular sayings, usually heard in conservative circles: that “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem,” and “Government does not create jobs; individuals and businesses do.”
I must admit, they both sound good on first hearing, but with just a little bit of common sense and scrutiny, one has to reach the conclusion that these popular sayings are nothing short of pure propaganda. Even those who repeat them have a difficult time trying to defend them in honest debate. Instead, they usually resort to name-calling: i.e., “socialist,” “anti-American,” “liberals” – code words for everything wrong with America.
SO WHY DO they say these quotes if they cannot defend them? They do it because they are either naïve or scheming. Either way, they want us to believe that the government is the enemy, and that if government got out of the way, they would fare quite well on their own. They call it rugged individualism. I call it foolishness.
No person or business makes it without the help of the government in some way. Whether it is creating an environment in which businesses can operate without fear of unfair competition, or ensuring that banks are properly regulated so that people are not taken advantage of, or providing roads, schools, etc., the government is involved.
HOWEVER, PRESIDENT Reagan himself said that government is “not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” He suggested that business knows best how to solve them, and that if government got out of the way, our economic woes would disappear. There now is an effort afoot to eliminate certain people from participating in the government by putting up hurdles to make it more difficult to vote – something that is very unconstitutional, in my humble opinion.
Yet those who wrap themselves up in the fabric of the Constitution are the very ones who are destroying it with their undemocratic ways of governing, crying out for an oligarchy or plutocracy – and doing it without regard to the dire consequences of such a movement.
THE NOTION THAT “government does not create jobs; businesses and individuals do” is half-right. I would dare anyone to refute the fact that the U.S. government creates every job out at Savannah River Site. The government pays every person out there, either directly or indirectly. DuPont, the contractor hired in the 1950s to build and operate the facility, did not create SRS; the government did. All public facilities are created by the government, and are funded and operated by the government.
President Obama was correct when he said in a recent campaign speech that businesses did not make it on their own, and that government helped them along the way. Anyone with a brain in his or her head knows this. There is no way around it. The thought that anyone can make it by himself or herself has always been anathema to American thinking because we all know that it is not true. No man is an island unto himself, and no business either.
FOR THOSE WHO suggest such crazy notions as those mentioned above should call for a moratorium on all government services for a year, and see how well they fare then. Let them keep their tax money in their pockets and spend it as they see fit. They say that they know best how to spend it. Please, let us give them a chance to do that. The truth of the matter is that it is all political rhetoric, corrupt influence and demagoguery to gain economic and political power.
Edmund Burke, the Irish statesman, in a speech on economic reform in 1780, said, “Corrupt influence, which is itself the perennial spring of all prodigality, and all disorder; which loads us, more than millions in debt; which takes away vigour from our arms, wisdom from our councils, and every shadow of authority and credit from the most venerable parts of our constitution.”
(The writer is a former Augusta City Council member and a retired labor relations manager from Bechtel Savannah River Inc.)