Ok, new project for this new year. As many of you know, my operating theory right now is that most anti-government sentiment comes from people who really don't know what government does and conceptualize that government spending as handouts to poor people--or alternatively, as boondoggle programs to build a gazebo in some rep's backyard.
So, I would like to quantify, if one can quantify in more general terms, the role government plays in our life. I don't mean this as pure partisan exercise, btw. I certainly understand that some of those roles are subject to legitimate debate. Maybe government should not be spending money in these areas. We can talk about that. But for right now, I am looking for examples of government spending in community and individual lives.
A few parameters for you to consider. I am not terribly interested in those singular moments of porkbarrel spending. The "bridge to nowhere" doesn't interest me nearly as much as the more annual matching funds that communities receive to upgrade their sewers, roads, or police radios. And while I am certainly interested in the safety net spending, I don't want to focus only on that. By all means, send me links to programs like the one Smitty posted a year or so back about a non-profit in Michigan that provides assistance to the disabled poor and receives federal money as a supplement. But I am also interested in programs that assist small businesses, or community development, or agricultural areas. I am interested in how federal science grants have rippled through our entire economy.
Or not. If you have examples of purely private money doing all of those things, I am open too.
So, please send me any examples you can think of. You can post them in the comments, or email them to my blog address.