Service-Driven Heroes and Public Goods

Robert ReichHardly a month goes by when we don’t recommend something from his eminence, Robert Reich. This month we couldn’t limit ourselves to just one. First, we were moved by this short piece from Reich about the motivation of some public servants, including the firefighters who lost their lives in Arizona. Reich writes:

“It’s worth pondering that the 19 firefighters who died Sunday battling a huge wildfire near Prescott, Arizona, presumably were motivated by something other than rational self-interest. Like the first-responders to 9/11 and other emergencies, and members of the armed forces, they put themselves in harm’s way (or chose a job that did so) because they wanted to serve.”

For the second installment from Reich this month, we highly recommend this discussion about the evolution and recent devolution of “public goods” in America. He’s really singing our tune in this one:

Public institutions are supported by all taxpayers, and are available to all. If the tax system is progressive, those who are better off (and who, presumably, have benefitted from many of these same public institutions) help pay for everyone else.

“Privatize” means “Pay for it yourself.” The practical consequence of this in an economy whose wealth and income are now more concentrated than at any time in the past 90 years is to make high-quality public goods available to fewer and fewer.

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