Things Government Does Better Than We Do

by Public Works on August 31, 2012 in August 2012 eNewsletter

Red barn blue sky and wheat stuble fieldThis piece by Monica Potts of the American Prospect does a great job of explaining why it is more effective for us to use our government to perform certain functions in society. Retirement insurance, health care, addressing poverty, disaster relief, and “all the little things” are examples of government being able to spread risk across society and make decisions that benefit all of us.

“Keeping the federal government in charge of disaster relief spreads risk out over the entire country, and ensures that victims in poor states—basically every state in Tornado Alley—get as much help as residents of wealthier states would.”

In a related effort, we thought this blog post by Aphra Behn was a thoughtful and somewhat rare contribution to the conversation about government; in this post Aphra walks through the many contributions government makes to improving rural life:

“Do you have a farm or garden? Chances are that you benefit from research done at publicly-funded universities . . . Once you’ve harvested your bounty, you might want to preserve it. Fortunately, the government is there to provide guidance on safe food preservation, whether that is via freezing, drying, or home canning. What about leisure and fun? If your kids are in 4-H , then you have the government to thank. If you want to visit a national park, you have the government to thank. (Same goes for state and county parks). And if you enjoy fishing or hunting, then the state DNR probably plays a role in your life, managing wildlife populations so they aren’t hunted to extinction, as they were in the days before government stepped in.”

Giving specific examples of government activities and explaining how they work is something Public Works emphasizes in its trainings as necessary steps to moving from “government as a giant undefined blob” to much-needed “systems thinking”.

Documenting Ripple Effects

by Public Works on August 31, 2012 in August 2012 eNewsletter

In recent years advocates around the country have been arguing that workers should have some guaranteed paid sick days. But this is one of those policies that, on its surface, looks like it’s just about the workers. It’s not. It’s … Continue reading

Tapping an Election Season to Reclaim Government for the Common Good

by Elaine Mejia on August 31, 2012 in August 2012 eNewsletter

By: Elaine Mejia, Senior Program Associate  Election season is upon us. Some of us are deeply involved in the electoral aspects of this season—working to get out the vote, to support candidates, to inform voters about the choices they face. … Continue reading

Happy 77th Birthday Social Security

by Public Works on August 31, 2012 in August 2012 eNewsletter

Retirement security for hundreds of millions of past, current and future Americans – not a bad legacy for something that’s only 77 years old. The program is so remarkably reliable and efficient that it’s no wonder its popularity among Americans … Continue reading

The Rich Don’t Pay Enough in Taxes

by Public Works on August 31, 2012 in August 2012 eNewsletter

Last week, this PEW poll got lots of mainstream airtime because of its finding that a majority of Americans (58%) believe that wealthy Americans do not pay enough taxes. We know from past history, however, that snapshot polls are not … Continue reading

Boston Fed Reserve Explains Government’s Role in Economy

by Public Works on August 31, 2012 in August 2012 eNewsletter

This issue of The Ledger, the economic education newsletter from the Boston Fed, is a terrific example of a public education piece that explains government’s positive historical role in local economies. Check it out!

If a government can’t tax, is it a government?

by Public Works on August 31, 2012 in August 2012 eNewsletter

That’s the question being explored in an interesting lawsuit that is challenging the legitimacy of Colorado’s Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights(TABOR). In August that lawsuit was allowed to proceed. Under Colorado’s TABOR, a vote of the people is required before taxes … Continue reading