Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Sunday, July 31, 2011

A Contrarian Case for Government

This of all weekends might not be the time to do this, but as George Will piles on with a column arguing that “government and the sectors it dominates have made themselves ludicrous” and “opened minds to the libertarians’ argument,” someone should say a few words in defense of a beleaguered political system that has kept this country the most free and prosperous in the world for centuries.

In the 1950s, best-sellers like “The Hidden Persuaders” and “The Organization Man” excoriated Big Business as the root of American evil, just as fringe arguments for Socialism and Communism were doing, in overheated attacks that boiled down to the naïve discovery that society was organized and that large organizations, while conferring benefits, were not always friendly to the best interests of individuals.

Now, in Ron Paul and his ilk, we have the mirror image of all that, fueled by the shambles of a total politicization of everything that has gone wrong in a period of economic upheaval that was not created by and won’t be totally solved by government.

Blaming Bush for creating and Obama for not overcoming a recession miss the point that government certainly affects the economy but doesn’t control it. (In the 1970s, Gerald Ford promoted “WIN (Whip Inflation Now)" buttons and Jimmy Carter talked about a national malaise, but neither did much to improve the financial state of the nation.)

As Paul, the Ayn Rand caucus in Congress and the Tea Party rail against government as the root of all evil, it might help to remember that a case can be made against all institutions.

In my own experience in recent months, I have been treated atrociously by such free-market bastions as Best Buy and the Geek Squad and, in a question about back taxes, with the utmost courtesy and helpfulness by “bureaucrats” who work for my state government.

But I wouldn’t want to stake a grand theory on the anecdotal evidence of where I have been encountering fallible and/or competent human beings. Neither should the nation.

1 comment:

Harley King said...

Amen! The President can not turn the economy on or off like a faucet. To blame the President is false blame.