We Heart Government

Here is a site dedicated to praising government. Don’t read and face your computer at the same time unless you want your keyboard covered in puke.

As usual, they are confusing “small government ideology” with “anarchy”. The conservative agenda is, apparently, to abolish even the things we can all agree government should do like build roads, enforce laws, protect private property and punish wrongdoers

What gets me, however, is how craven the site is. To read it, one would think we should go to bed each night thanking God that our wonderful and glorious government is there to save us from ourselves. Without government, the site argues, all of us evil stupid greedy senseless people would be dead.

It’s a target rich environment, but I’ll take on the Day in the Life tripe, which walks you through your day and tells you how much you should get on your knees and thank God for our divine rulers.

6:30 a.m. You are awakened by your clock radio and listen for a few minutes to the news before getting up. But you can listen to your favorite station only because the Federal Communications Commission brings organization and coherence to our vast telecommunications system.

You can also be safe in the knowledge that if anyone says “shit”, the FCC, at the bidding of religious lunatics, will fine them to death.
You can also lament the lack of small local stations that the FCC has forced out and thank God that your cable TV, for now, is not being bullied and harassed by an official licensing agency.

Also, the energy to run that radio? It’s creating greenhouse gases because the government refuse to allow more nuclear power.

Missing from their chronology? 6:31 am — thank heavens you are not one of the two million Americans in prison, mostly for non-violent crimes.

6:35 a.m. Like 17 million other Americans, you have asthma. But as you get out of bed you notice that you are breathing freely this morning. This is thanks in part to government clean air laws that reduce the air pollution that would otherwise greatly worsen your condition.

Since businessmen don’t need to breath, they wouldn’t clean up the air without help. Also, lament that you can’t use a more effective inhaler since they were outlawed by the CFC ban. And be grateful you don’t live in a poor area that corrupt officials allow polluters to sully.

6:45 a.m. You sit down to breakfast with your family. You are having eggs … but the chance of you getting sick from these eggs has now been greatly reduced by a recently passed series of strict federal rules that apply to egg producers.

I’ll just say it once and you can apply it to all future examples. You can also thanks the thousands of capitalists involved in getting the eggs to you and inventing things like refrigerators. Government doesn’t create, ship or sell eggs — or anything else. At best, it creates the environment for eggs to be bought and sold.

He then goes into owning a house and property rights are certainly a good thing, but then there’s this:

On a more practical level, the federal government actually gives you money every year to help pay for your house. It’s called a mortgage interest tax deduction and it is one of the larger benefit programs run by the federal government – amounting to over $60 billion dollars a year. You can also deduct any real estate taxes you pay. These largely overlooked subsidy programs have enabled millions of people to buy their first home or to move up to a larger home than they could afford otherwise.

These would be the same subsidy programs that gave us an over-heated real-estate market and the subprime meltdown. Gee, thanks government.

Moreover, the real estate deduction is bullshit. It is much smaller than most people think. For people of lower incomes, it’s usually smaller than the standard deduction. It’s really just a massive subsidy to the upper middle class. This is not a good thing and it’s a principle reason I support a flat tax.

No one buys a home because of the interest deduction. And if they did, they’re probably in foreclosure right now.

7:20 a.m. As you are getting dressed, a glance outside the window shows some ominous clouds. You check the weather on your TV. All these weather forecasts are made possible by information gathered and analyzed by the National Weather Service, a government agency.

Since obviously no private agency would ever do this. While the TV is on, you see that more people have died in Iraq.

7:30 a.m. Before you leave home, you take your pills to control your high blood pressure. But how do you know that this medicine is safe or effective? Without the testing required by the Food and Drug Administration, you wouldn’t. And without the vigilance of the FDA, you could easily fall victim to unscrupulous marketers of unsafe and worthless medicines.

This is what got my boxers in a bunch. The idea that Americans are stupid morons who would be sucking down any pill whatsoever without the gentle supervision of the FDA is ludicrous. Not only that, but the FDA has often delayed the implementation of medications.

Worst of all, the big government types are currently gunning to impose price controls on prescription meds. This will kill the goose and you will open your medicine cabinet to find … nothing.

Thanks to government.

7:45 a.m. You put a couple of letters in your mailbox. For less than the price of a cup of coffee, a government employee will come to your house, pick up the letters, and have them delivered in a few days to someone on the other side of the country. A pretty good deal.

First of all, shithead, the government no longer runs the post office — at least officially. Second, mail service was handled by private agencies much cheaper and more effectively long before the USPS existed. If USPS is so grand, why not allow competition?

7:50 a.m. You and your child walk across the lawn to your car and arrive without getting dog poop on your shoes. A small but welcome achievement that is made possible now by a local law that requires people to clean up after their pets. Also, the reason your neighborhood is not plagued by stray cats and dogs is that your local Animal Control officer is on the job dealing with this constant problem

Codswallop. This is a result of the American people being decent types (mostly) who don’t let their dogs soil their neighbors lawns and neuter their pets out of basic decency.

This is the thread running through this bullshit. Over and over again, we are implicitly told that the American people are evil and stupid. Without government, we’d be shitting on each other’s lawns, raping each other’s wives and eating poison pills.

This is nonsense.

Driving your car is inherently dangerous. But it is made immensely safer by government laws and regulations, such as those mandating child safety seats and the use of seat belts – rules that have saved tens of thousands of lives. Driving down the street is also made much safer by a local government that enforces traffic laws and discourages people from driving too fast or driving drunk. Most state governments also minimize your risk of being run into by someone driving on bald tires or with faulty breaks by requiring regular inspections of all vehicles. And state drivers license examinations ensure that all drivers are at least minimally competent and can actually see the road. In addition, if you are hit by another car, the potentially disastrous costs of an accident are covered because the government requires that all drivers to have auto insurance. In fact, without this extensive network of government laws and regulations covering automobiles and driving, it would be foolish for us to ever venture out on the road.

Horse. Shit. Can you tell I’m getting more annoyed as I go?

Most of this is fine. But the idea that it would be too foolish for us to venture out on the road without government is pure garbage. Wearing seat belts is common with or without laws, which are rarely enforced anyway. Government-mandated airbags were killing hundreds of people before we realized it. Both were put into cars (along with other safety features) long before government mandates. Safety inspections have more to do with lining the pockets of mechanics than safety. Does this dope really think we’d all drive cars with no seat belts, bald tires and no airbags while drinking? What a cynical fuck.

Speeding laws and red light cameras have far more to do with raising revenue than safety. In fact, several cities were caught shortening yellow lights to collect more tickets, thus endangering their citizens.

Did you ever notice that during a blackout, we get along just fine without traffic lights? How can that be?!

8:15 a.m. You drop your child off at day-care … your child benefits from the fact that most state governments now enforce day-care requirements for group size, ratios of children per staff member, teacher training, nutrition, health, safety, and space requirements.

Yes, without government, I’d turn over my kids to a bunch of satan worshippers. Government inspection of daycare centers is notoriously weak.

8:35 a.m. Your trip on the freeway is much safer due to federal restrictions on the number of hours that truck drivers can operate their vehicles without resting.

Of course, this made most truckers experts in forging their logs.

8:55 a.m. You arrive at work and take the elevator. You just assume that the elevator is safe; and it is, thanks in part to the annual elevator inspections conducted by your state government.

No mention of the businessmen and contractors who put in the work and inventiveness to create these things. Or that my employer has a vested interested in making sure I don’t die on the way to my office.

9:00 a.m. While at work, your rights and wellbeing are constantly protected by a wide-ranging network of federal and state laws.

Well, that and a dynamic business market that enables me to change employers. Also, the ADA ensures that you have to cover for your alcoholic coworker. Your employer can’t fire him because he’s “disabled”. And if you are black, you could be in a dead-end division like human resources because your employer is trying to avoid discrimination lawsuits when he does promotions.

The lunch post is long and covers food health, packaging requirements (because no one would market healthy food), pesticide restrictions (ignoring various tomfoolery in our stupid agriculture policy) and microwave safety (since microwave companies apparently like customers to burn to death).

Ignored? Your food is more expensive because of tariffs, subsidies, import quotas and biofuel mandates. You can’t have a cigarette at lunch because of Nanny State laws. And if you have a glass of wine, you might get arrested for DUI even if you aren’t impaired thanks to massive incentives for cops to bust everyone they can.

Also, sometime after lunchtime is when you finish paying for all this wonderfulness.

1:00 p.m. Back at work you hear rumors about a new downsizing plan being talked about by management … but you also know that you will be eligible for state-mandated unemployment insurance should that happen. This is just another way that government helps you to cope with the economic risks and uncertainties of a modern economy.

And encourages people to stay unemployed.

3:00 p.m. On a break, you call your elderly mother in the hospital to check on how she is recovering from her broken hip. Thanks to Medicare, her medical expenses are covered and she does not have to worry about this becoming a financial disaster for her.

You apparently being a heartless jerk who would turf your mother out on the street otherwise. And mother apparently being a stupid bimbo who can’t save for retirement.

Thanks to the federal Family and Medical Leave act, you will also have the right to take several days off to tend to your mother when she comes home from the hospital.

You also get a lower salary to account for other employees abusing the system.

And you can be reasonably confident that she will get good therapy because your state Department of Health has a program of examining and licensing these therapists in order to ensure the quality of their work

You can also look forward to more expensive services as the government licensing restricts the availability of doctors, lawyers, beauticians and even interior designers.

You yourself might be uninsured since you don’t get the insurance tax break your employer would; since your employer cut the insurance benefit after Medicaid was expanded; and since state regulations make insurance too expensive for you.

Doesn’t matter, really. Your family doctor is out of practice because of a malpractice lawsuit.

5:00 p.m. You leave work—thanks to the government-mandated 40-hour workweek. Labor Department regulations prevent your company from making you work past 5:00 unless it pays you overtime.

Except most of us are contract employees. And we work well over 40 hours. And many workplace concessions were won by unions over government interference.

5:15 p.m. You stop at a local gas station to fill up. The very fact that this oil company offers this gas to you for sale is dependent on the existence of certain government laws. This company would not do business in your town without a legal system that assures them that you will pay for any gas you pump into your car.

In the Wild West, no one ever paid for anything! The government has neither the time nor the resources to make sure everyone pays their bills. In fact, it actively shelters those who don’t. People pay for goods and services because they are honest, not because of government.

5:15 p.m. How do you know the price you are paying for this gasoline is a fair and competitive one?[Because I'm a smart consumer? Oh, guess not.] In many states, the Department of Attorney General has been responsible for finding and prosecuting cases of price manipulation and price fixing by oil companies and distributors.

And, in doing so, often creating artificial shortages. Moreover, government demands for custom blends of gasoline, government restrictions on oil drilling, and government restrictions on refineries make that gas much more expensive than it needs to be.

There’s a long ode to zoning even though neighborhoods existed long before zoning. No mention is made of the imminent domain seizures. Then there’s eating dinner out, where the restaurant would serve you rotten food if it weren’t for government. Then there’s the no-call registry, from which politicians and politically-connected organizations are exempted.

There’s also this gem:

8:00 p.m. You do a quick check of your e-mail … the internet actually began with government programs that created ARPANET and later NSFNET, early computer networking systems that developed the software and networking infrastructure that form the foundations of today’s internet. The government also helped to fund research that led to web browsers like Internet Explorer and search engines like Google.

Obvious, without government, no one would ever have thought of the internet at all! And its thanks to deregulation that computers and internet access are so good and so cheap.

Missing from the chronology? 3:00 pm — your child comes home from their government school that, despite having twice the budget of a private school, sends them home as ignorant as when they walked in.

Or 4:00 am. You are awoken by a crash as SWAT agents, acting on an anonymous tip, break into your neighbor’s home because he might have some marijuana. Money is taken from his safe and, although he is never convicted of a crime, the legal fees to get it back are greater than the amount taken.

He goes on at some length then about how the benefits of government are mostly invisible because they improve our lives in ways we don’t see. That’s true as far as it goes. But the costs of government are also invisible. Lower wages and benefits because of taxes and regulations on your employer; more expensive food because of dumb agricultural policy; ignorant kids because of failing government schools that demand ever more money; seniors struggling to get by rather than enjoying the retirement a privatized social security system would have given them.

The cost of government is not just intangible, it’s invisible. The cost is mainly opportunity cost — things that don’t exist because government taxes, regulations and tomfoolery prevented them from being created.

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