"That's why you hear stories of people saying, "Keep government out of my Medicare."I made this point to a guy on FB who kept calling government abusive. What is also interesting is that some of the people who refer to government as evil and abusive have been the most forgiving of torture and wiretapping. Which suggests to me that this is not about some kind of political principle, but about branding and partisan loyalty. And that is, perhaps, the most disturbing part of this "debate." Those people going to the town halls are angry because they have been told to be angry.
But that's just one example. Life is full of invisible examples of government benefits we never think about. The free market didn't bring about the weekend, or clean air. It didn't create universal education, and neither did it provide universal health care for the elderly. It didn't desegregate our schools. It couldn't save the banking system -- there was a series of interventions that kept it from collapsing and got it back on its feet.
But all these things quickly fade into the background like an invisible platform.
That's why I sometimes wish life had a show/hide function similar to the one in Word that shows or hides formatting. We could click it, and reveal all the ways that political choices have improved our lives.
Of course, government isn't always good -- see, e.g., sugar subsidies, spectrum regulation. And markets do many things very, very well. But the demagoguery that the idea of government is receiving in the health coverage debate is completely undeserved.
August 11, 2009
Though Publius said it better. When people think of government programs and dependency, they think about welfare and poor people: