Why is Government?

Crossposted from DemConWatch

Last evening I sat down on my sofa with my copy of USA Today. I looked over to my kitchen, to the counter filled with things that are only here once a year, like those little fake onion rings in a can and marshmallows, nestled amoung the more regular goods like sweet potatoes and apples. I turned on the news to hear how the Korean situation was progressing and opened my paper. And there it was on page 3A, the title “At the expense of quality of life, cities tighten belts.” Subheading “Potholes may be a sign of communities still in a budget hole, as mayors tally loss of jobs, services.”

You already know what's in the article.

What I'm thinking about are things for which I'm thankful. On a personal level in these dire economic times, that I have a roof over my head, food to eat and share, and people whom I love who love me back. Rich indeed.

And then I think about all the things for which I am thankful to government. I don't think people concentrate on that enough. Caught up instead with who is in government, and issues of the day. But here's my list anyway.

More after the jump.

Genetics gave me native intelligence, but the government-run public schools I attended were excellent, and taught me A LOT. Yes, all the state capitals (you knew that was coming) but also how to think and evaluate. 

I can go wherever I want because the Constitution said we are a federation of individual states and the borders between them can be crossed any time, any way. But I can go quickly and easily because the government gave me (and you) the federal highway system. If you don't know, that was Eisenhower's doing: he got the idea trying to move military equipment across the country during WW2. Ground was first broken in 1956. Most of us are not old enough to remember when crossing the country meant horses and rutted roads.

I am grateful for the diseases that our public health service eradicated through coordinated research and implementation: smallpox, polio, measles, diphtheria, pertussis. I do not worry about malaria, cholera nor typhoid.  

I think about what FDR's alphabet soup did in the 1930's: indoor plumbing, electricity, public buildings. From the time of Ben Franklin, through the 1971 transformation, mail delivery courtesy of the Federal government. Back when letters were the way to communicate. 

Despite being a pacifist opposed to war, I sleep better knowing that we have a strong military for defensive purposes. I don't always agree with what the military does (REPEAL DADT NOW sorry, I digress) but the last time a sovereign nation attacked us was 1941, on a day that lives in infamy. Are there foreign and domestic individual terrorists? Sure. But ours is not some banana republic where other countries walk in and take over on a regular basis. As I always say: free, scheduled elections with the bloodless transfer of power, and elections held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday every November since 1789. 

Locally? I'm thankful for the library, the parks, the traffic lights, and the local police and fire services. I know a lot of the local cops. Until she died 4 years ago, I lived two doors down from the craziest person in town, as per the cops. They were often here because she had done something, again. I live in a town safe enough that the cops have time for the crazies. Things like when she would dress up in three hats and one pair of sandals. Yes, hats and shoes, no clothes, no teeth. She'd go door to door saying that she was married to Willie Nelson, he was on tour, but if you'd give her a couple bucks for cigarettes, he'd pay you back when he came home.

I'm glad I live where I can criticize specific things my government does without fear of ending up in a Gulag. That my government protects freedom of speech (and religion, the press, the right to assemble, and the right to petition to redress grievances.) I'm thankful that, in the end, our government will prove strong enough to overcome the teabaggers.  

I'm thankful for the “why” of government: to protect and serve and enrich us. Do we as a country have serious problems? Absolutely. But it would be much worse if our government was not as strong and sturdy as it is. 

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