Yesterday I asked a question - What should the government be doing [at all]? Today the question is different - What does the government do well?
I am asking this question again as I think about healthcare.* I am generally opposed to expanding the government for any purpose, but I obviously see the need for reform in healthcare. So although it is a cynical question, I wonder what is the government truly good at?
There are many things that the government does adequately. And there are many things that I do not think can be done by a non-government entity, so whether they are good at it or not they are still tasked with it.
There are, however, so many things that our system of democracy seems perfectly made to ruin. I don’t believe Social Security should have ever been created in the first place, but that is irrelevant. The simple mathematical fact is that in 32 years, when I become eligible, there will be no Social Security money for me to draw. I will have paid 40+ years and thousands of dollars for nothing. Our democracy is set up in such a way that privatizing that money or even locking 50% it to my account will never happen. Young people, who would benefit from that change, don’t vote, and older people, who are afraid to change things, do vote. That is not ever going to change.
Democracy, at least our system is also set up so that lawmakers regardless of party need to be constantly spending money in order to give the appearance that they are working for their constituency. That appearance is necessary because they need votes to keep their job.
Having hopefully established that there are many things the government is bad at, I return to the original question? What does the U.S. government do well?
I believe that they are good at defense. Only 2 attacks ever on American soil illustrates this. People argue whether or not we should be involved in the global war on terror, but that does not change that fact that our military is excellent.
I also believe that the government has done a good job of keeping us healthy. (This is not addressing Ben’s comments from yesterday) What I mean is that the FDA, USDA, & EPA keep our food and water clean and safe. With few exceptions, there is not a place in America where it is unsafe to drink water from the tap, eat meat from the grocery, or take the drugs you buy in the store.
I think that is the list. It seems to me that everything else that is in the domain of government responsibility is ruined by bureaucracy or too much involvement. This is the case for education, much infrastructure and so much more.
So there’s my very cynical list. Feel free to put your own list in the comments
Tomorrow, my thoughts on universal healthcare (for what that’s worth)
* Although I am a staff member of LaGrange Park Baptist Church, the views and opinions expressed in this blog are my own and not that of the church. They may not be construed as an endorsement or attack on any candidate or party on behalf of the church. They are my views as an individual.