Things Government Does Better Than We Do

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”.

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