Back in the 1980’s, President Ronald Reagan claimed that the nine most terrifying words in the English language were, “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.” It still gets chuckles from many GOP Reagan fans. Certainly, this belief inspired his policies which promoted less government and fewer regulations. It began the 40 years of Reagonomic rhetoric and legislation which harmfully lessened the role government plays in our lives. Curiously, at the same time the GOP wanted to reduce helpful programs for main street people, they were also interfering more and more in our personal life decisions and lining the pockets of Wall Street corporations and the rich. We can hope that 40 years of ‘Reagonomics’ will end soon! This outlook has contributed greatly to the devastation of the middle class.
Clearly, we can agree that there are many ways in which waste can be trimmed from government spending. However, the government beneficially plays an integral role in providing services for all of us and implementing numerous programs which benefit the nation as a whole. The government’s role of oversight includes regulating companies who can and do cut corners to save money, while harming us with their pollution and faulty products. Regulations are merely safe guards for us, not evil obstructions as many conservatives and businesses would have us believe. When you live in a society, certain things need to be for the benefit of all, and the government has a role in providing those services, for which we are taxed. We elect representatives to carry out those important duties and be watch guards on our behalf. If they are NOT doing their jobs, we have the option of voting them out. We take for granted many of the things that government regulates and provides for us. This post really makes the point of all of the things that we enjoy due to so-called governmental interference! https://www.thomhartmann.com/blog/2008/01/day-life-joe-middle-class-republican
Maybe I’m the odd one who likes to breathe clean air and drink clear water? Also, I like to buy a product knowing that it has been tested and approved for use and will not harm me. And, I enjoy visiting national parks that are not polluted by fracking and trash and whose water and air are protected from pollution. I want the wildlife to be protected as well. So many animals have been allowed to go extinct which I feel is a horrific loss to us as well as nature in general. And, I like to drive a car that has safety features like seat belts, air bags, and continually new safety features. Eventually, we will have more affordable electric car and charging stations which will improve our air quality. All of those are the results of government intervention in incentivizing technological inventions and promoting safety.
One point you may recall, is when Flint, Michigan’s water supply was being poisoned with lead causing their citizens to become ill, many with life-altering health conditions and many of those are children. For a time, they had to boil water to even bathe safely. This issue has yet to be totally resolved after over 5 years! Many children will never be the same due to government officials cutting needless corners in providing safe drinking water to them. It should never have happened.
Most of our food and drugs are inspected for safety by the FDA and USDA. (Truth be said, not many of our personal care products are actually inspected which is why I use and sell natural products). European countries have many more safeguards than the U.S., in fact even their fast food is more regulated and differs from what is served here by the same companies. Our Covid vaccines had to be approved, as do the drugs that we take, though I question their safety since many are produced overseas. Hence recalls?!
I’ve lived most of my life in Denver, Colorado where we have a breath-taking view of the Rocky Mountains. When I was a child, and our family was driving to church in the 1960’s, my mother would often exclaim as we drove west down 23rd Avenue, ‘aren’t the mountains beautiful today?’ Well, they certainly were back then. However, that changed with the growing population and increase in automobile and factory pollution. So, by the 1970’s Denver became well-known for our ‘brown cloud’, formed with temperature inversions which traps pollution closer to the ground and prevents it from rising (over the mountaintops). For numerous years a brown cloud of haze blocked part of our view across the horizon. It was ugly to see and know that we were breathing that air, as well as feeling responsible for that with our growing automobile use and industrial pollution. But eventually changes to regulations from the government were instituted, which now make our skies clearer on most days so that we can enjoy the awesome view of those snow-capped mountains. Would that have happened if we just left it up to the industries to self-regulate? Doubtful!
Very recently, Texas faced a disaster of their own making in February when a blast of cold and snow blanketed their state. It was even worse than their normal hurricanes causing pipes to break, a few people to freeze to death, and millions to be out of electricity and water for days. This is a result of their failed (mostly GOP) policies and industrial greed (mainly oil and gas). They failed to fix infrastructure and update their grid which would have prevented the electrical outages. Some GOP blamed the windmills, which are used greatly in colder European countries without issues. They had an opportunity 10 years ago to upgrade and fix things before another storm came, but did nothing. They decided they would do better with their own electrical grid as well, not relying on anyone else and enjoying their own lack of regulations. And many citizens even signed an agreement that allowed oil and gas to increase their prices astronomically under certain conditions, so many have received bills for thousands of dollars when they didn’t even have electricity for days! They have a chance to correct this for the future, if they will not allow corporations and GOP policies and lack of regulations to remain. It’s not in their citizen’s best interest and hopefully they will speak up!
Take a moment and think of all the things you do daily and how each of them may have been impacted by governmental regulations or oversight. Many services have recently come under scrutiny and ridicule by the GOP who have deemed them as ‘socialist’. Yes, we live in a society where we need to have common services, like streets, electricity, fire and police, water, libraries, and much more. We can’t separate out our air and water from one another; it is a common commodity. I don’t want to have to pay individually for the fire department to come to my aid, do you?
During this pandemic, we could have been better served by national policies and protocols that may have stopped or slowed the virus sooner! Now the implementation of the vaccines to everyone is underway and has increased greatly under new leadership. Without the government it would be even worse; we are in this together! It’s up to us to wear masks, socially distance and get our vaccines.
We should be thankful for the government’s contribution to us, as they are our employees and our taxes pay for the personnel and services. We should not be upset about paying taxes, as we get so much in return. We as citizens, are the watchdogs to make certain the government works correctly for all of us. We could not afford to pay for each of those services individually. And if you look back over the past 100 years, most of the social programs that you may enjoy, or know someone who enjoys, were NOT enacted by the GOP. They fought against social security, Medicare, and civil rights. And they continue to fight against new policies that help ‘main street’ people. Most of their actions have served corporate America and the richest who have made record profits during a pandemic when so many have lost jobs and are struggling to eat and pay rent. And the previous administration frequently removed regulations that serve to protect us and hopefully those will be reinstated quickly. Our lives and planet are at risk if they are not.
As a reminder, in a democracy or republic, WE are responsible as citizens for what happens or WE allow to happen in our country. We can vote, call or write our elected officials, attend town halls, run for office and boards. Learn who your area’s elected officials are and contact them about issues you care about deeply! They need to hear from us! The answers are up to us, for each of us to become engaged in issues you care strongly about. The answer is not to deregulate nor get rid of the governmental services so many badly need. It’s about US being more engaged, learning about issues and caring enough to become the “of, by and for the people.”