To the editor:
“The government is the problem,” a slogan popularized by a now-idolized president Ronald Reagan, has become the common refrain of the conservative movement, particularly as they attempt to counter the advances made by the left in the areas of expanded government, and in particular, national health care.
The merit of this argument may only be determined through the course of history, but in light of the assumptions made in a Congressional Budget Office report — that government-managed health care will result in a $200 billion deficit reduction if a half trillion dollars in Medicare and Medicaid waste is eliminated, only begs these questions: why is the waste being tolerated now?
Do we need a larger government to rectify that enormous waste of tax money?
And, if we grow the government-managed side of health care by several times its current size, what happens if waste multiplies in concert with that growth?
By any measure it would seem government is large enough. As an example, Eli Lilly employs approximately 38,000 worldwide, and IUPUI is reported to have employment reaching 7,300 (staff and professors), whereas the State of Indiana employs 76,219 full-time and another 40,353 part-time (Census Bureau), 45,000 of which are teachers.
According to the Census Bureau, local governments accounted for another 296,000 full- and part-time workers in 2010, with 168,000 being teachers.
With a reported labor force in our fair state of 3.2 million, that equates to one government employee for every seven non-government workers (one of 15 if you do not count teachers in the government total). As an aside, after state government, the next largest employers in the state are all hospitals.
I may be wrong, as I am not a constitutional scholar, but I doubt our forefathers envisioned such a scenario for those that would inherit what they took such drastic, and often perilous, measures to create.
This can be surmised by the following quote from Thomas Jefferson, “a wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned — this is the sum of good government.”
I doubt Jefferson would comprehend the need for our current over-sized government, particularly when more and more “bread” is needed to feed the ever-growing monster. And consider this: the federal government’s bite of our national bread (the gross domestic product) has remained relatively constant at around 20 percent over the past several decades since the significant peak of almost 50 percent during the height of World War II.
Yet the current administration’s budget is estimated by many economists to push government spending to 40 percent of GDP, with interest on the national debt (much of that paid to the Chinese and other foreign interests) and entitlement spending accounting for larger and larger portions of the total over time.
Given the above, quite possibly the more apt Regan quotations may be “Government always finds a need for whatever money it gets,” and “Government does not solve problems. It subsidizes them.”
The former could readily be applied regardless of the party in power, but the latter is most prescient in regard to stimulus spending and bail-outs (GM, Wall Street and Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac).
Increased spending, disastrously high federal deficits and an increasing “entitlement” mentality surely threaten our standing in this world, if not our nation as a whole.
But, as Abraham Lincoln once stated “government of the people, by the people, for the people” should not be allowed to perish from this earth.
So we ought to consider if government is the problem, then to use another famous quotation, “we have met the enemy, and he is us.”