The Role Of Government?

The clarion cry “get government off the backs of Americans” seems an everyday occurrence.    But what does that mean?

Some point to their first Amendment rights.  But not everyone in America owns a fire arm and many people never want to.

Others denounce the IRS (the ugly tax man).  In fact I have never met anyone who liked to pay taxes.  Most of us realize there is no free lunch, so taxes are a necessary evil.

A growing number of Americans see government spending (Federal, State, or local) as the curse and seek to slash the budget without regard to where.

The huge size of the Federal deficits is a clear indication that Federal spending is a concern.  But tell me if you have heard any of our elected officials propose a plan to deliver government services and pay for them?

At the State level where budgets must be balanced, cuts have come generally at the expense of the infrastructure maintenance and aid to education.  Some States have had more success than others but in others cuts have been deep.

At the local level, however, we see the impact of Federal and State budget cuts, for example, in deteriorating bridges and roads as well as unbalanced school budgets.  Hmmm.

In Philadelphia, the school district is facing an estimated $300 million deficit on a budget that has been relatively flat (following several rounds of belt tightening).  The problem is not that teachers are paid too much or demanding huge salary increases.  For sure, in a city school district as large as Philadelphia, there still are efficiencies to be gained with changes to teachers contracts (just like with the private sector).

The City has said it will increase property taxes and has asked the school district for further savings (read school closings and consolidations).  The State has also been asked to restore funding to previous levels.  So far none of the parties (State, City, Union) have agreed to do their share.  Hmmm.

Yesterday, a four story building which was under demolition work, collapsed crushing two adjacent buildings.  So far, six people have died in the rubble.  Also yesterday, the Pennsylvania House passed a bill “opting out” of any abortion coverage in any future Obamacare insurance exchange.  Hmmm.

It seems to me the role of government must begin with assuring education is available for citizens, that streets, roads, and bridges are fit for commerce, and that regulatory agencies protect the populations from those who are prone to “cut corners”.  Only when those roles are fulfilled should government consider setting policy around social issues.

 

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