Tuesday, March 05, 2013

The Government Is the Solution

America really has changed over the past 30 some years, and not (always) for the better.

It's a truism among my students as among many people in this country that if we get the government involved in anything, the government will screw it up; that the government makes everything worse; that the government is the problem, not the solution.

This traces right back to Ronald Reagan, of course.  It's the fat lie that has been pushed by the Far Right since the end of the 1970's, and it's the lie that has allowed them to -- no other word for it -- destroy this country.

Here is Jon Stewart (a very bad clip, sorry) talking about one aspect of this.  At one point in this country, we were winning the war against hunger (despite what the far right will tell you, we were).  We had a social safety net, run by the government, that fed the poor, took care of those without work, made sure those without medical resources had medical care, put homeless kids in foster homes.

Was it perfect?  No.  And if you look back at the films and the novels and the literature being written in the 1960s and the 1970s, everyone knew it wasn't perfect.  But it was working.  People were fed, people were cared for -- in fact, according to the Right Wing haters of the time, cared for too well.

(At the time, we got Urban Myths about women who had been three generations on welfare, women on welfare who had 21 kids, women -- Welfare Queens! -- driving Cadillacs down to pick up their welfare checks, usually three different welfare checks, because of course they were defrauding the system. Now we get the same sort of stories, but its "these girls marry the government!" sort of thing.)

(In actual fact, of course, most people who use food stamps or any other form of government aid use it for less than two years total; most of those people have an average of two children; fraud is less than than 3% of all cases; Reagan's Welfare Queen and her Cadillac was totally made up.)

Then Reagan and his ilk decided that government was the problem, not the solution.  That by allowing government to feed the people -- feed those hungry children -- we were "creating a culture of dependency," and this was evil.  That, worse, we were depriving other people of a chance to feed those kids through charity: that the private sector would do a much better job of feeding those hungry kids if government would just get out of the way (and somehow this would...not created a culture of dependency?).

Never mind, of course, that the private sector cannot feed the hungry in this country, as multiple studies have shown, not in boom times, and clearly not now, when the Right Wing have broken the country with their ridiculous economic policies.

(Here's a study on hunger costs during this recession.)

So what's happened is we went from a system that was working well enough, if not perfectly, to a system that's broken, but that is letting a small number of people get richer and richer each year.  The 1%, those who created this system, they've got most of the country convinced this is moral and right, that there's no better way to build the system, that the "government" is always bad, always corrupt, always going to get it wrong, so what can you do?

But some of us know this isn't true.  We remember the time before Reagan.  We know a different world.


Bardiac said...

The right wingers are, somehow, convinced that white men with guns and uniforms (especially running the military) are always right and necessary and a big, big help.


delagar said...

Ha, yes. *That* arm of the government *does* work, somehow, right?