We’ve heard the mantra over and over – “Our government is too big!” Never mind that those who are the quickest to shout it at a rally are also the quickest to claim their Social Security and Medicare benefits.
As one healthcare protestor said during a healthcare town hall meeting – “Keep government out of my Medicare!”
Of course, someone pointed out later that Medicare is a government program. But despite the pesky facts that continue to get in the way of the “government is too big” protests, the idea persists that less government would be a good thing.
This is for all of those who think we have too much government.
Tomorrow when you pull out of your driveway onto a paved road that leads to a multi-lane interstate highway system, thank the government.
When you stop at a stoplight, placed in the intersection to regulate the flow of traffic and prevent chaos, thank either your local, county or state government who probably got the funds to install that traffic light from the federal government.
When you drop your kids off at a school that they attend for free, staffed by highly qualified college graduates, take note that education is primarily a government-funded and administered perk of living in the United States.
As you pull into the daycare center that will keep your youngest until they are ready for free public pre-kindergarten, you might remember the line item deduction on your IRS form 1040 that gives you credit for childcare so that you can work to support your family. That’s your government at work, subsidizing your income with a tax credit to enable you to be a productive American.
Arriving at your company’s headquarters, you might not know that the industry you work for gets special treatment in government tax credits so that your company can invest in the equipment necessary to expand manufacturing, increase production and hire more workers.
As you settle into your desk for the workday, government is there, insuring that the workplace, from the factory floor to the cafeteria, is a safe place for all to work.
Down the hall in human resources, government has assured that your company cannot discriminate in its hiring practices. Today’s minorities have a better chance than they did in the past. And it’s all because government has guaranteed that institutionalized discrimination in the workplace will not be tolerated.
When you go out for lunch, government inspectors have assured that the meal you eat meets minimum standards for health and safety.
After work, you might stop to visit your mother in the assisted-living center where she has moved since your father died. Government is there with assurances that the elderly are not abused, that proper medical care is provided, and that the enormous costs of living with assistance and medical attention are born by Medicare and Medicaid.
As you turn on the evening news, you catch video of U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, winning the peace there, taking the fight to the extremist elements that would destroy our freedoms. They are deployed by the government to ensure that you have the right to protest that our government is too big.
When you deposit your check, the bank into which you place your money is guaranteed to be solvent by the government. When it appeared that some of our largest financial institutions were near collapse, the federal government was the only entity in the world with the resources and jurisdiction to step in and save them, and the depositors who had trusted them.
This summer when you travel to a state or national park on vacation, see the bald eagles brought back from extinction, you have government to thank for preserving species threatened by manmade calamity.
The list could go on to include the safety of children’s toys, the purity of the pharmaceuticals, and the quality of the air we breathe and water we drink. They all exist because government inspects and monitors these areas and more.
Does government fail too often? Absolutely, because – just like your company, church or school – government is not some machine. Government is people.
Does government waste our tax dollars too frequently? Of course it does, but far more good is done than harm in the administration of government programs.
Government is the organized expression of the will of the people of the United States. If all the government services were to disappear tomorrow, those who are demanding smaller government today would demand that essential services be restored immediately.
For those who think we have too much government, let me suggest a trip to an ungovernable place like Somalia. Not much government there, and the sea pirates are “free” to do as they please, but that’s not the kind of state most of us want to live in. You might disagree, but I’m happy with the size of our government.
Sunday I’ll go to church and exercise one of the freedoms guaranteed by my government: I’ll pray for our leaders, our soldiers and those working to make this world a better place. If all of those criticizing our government would do the same, the size of government might become just about right for all of us.
Chuck Warnock is pastor of Chatham Baptist Church in Chatham, Virginia.