Reader Interrogation


It’s that time again!  I’ll ask a question, and then we’ll take turns answering it.  If you don’t participate, I’ll send a really creepy clown to your house to peer into all the windows and sing Bohemian Rhapsody at the top of his lungs in your front yard at 2am.


I usually don’t post political stuff on my blog.  For one thing, I don’t consider myself a particularly persuasive writer.  Better minds than mine have written reams of polished political punditry, and even so, it’s rare to hear of anyone changing his mind about his political ideology based on a blog post.  For another thing, I’m non-confrontational at heart.  I save my controversial  and divisive assertions for the things I think really matter, the high stakes stuff.  That leaves a whole lot of middle ground upon which good-hearted people can honestly disagree.

Having said all that, I think the current back-and-forth of our country’s political discourse is interesting.  There is a clear difference between the two schools of thought currently vying for control of America’s direction, between the push for small, hands-off government and the desire for strong government intervention to solve the problems facing the nation.  Today’s question takes those conflicting viewpoints to their most extreme implementations.

Question: If you had to choose between the two extremes, would you rather have a super small government whose only functions are maintaining the armed forces and keeping people from hurting each other (no government aid programs at all), or a super large government that provides social services to everyone in need and regulates nearly all aspects of private life?

Answer: Obviously, most reasonable people fall somewhere in the vast middle ground between these two choices, but I have to say that I’d prefer the evils of the too small government to those of the too big one.  I’d like to think that, in the absence of government programs, neighbors would watch out for each other more, and people with big hearts would step forward in larger numbers to reach out to those in deepest need.  I know it wouldn’t work perfectly, but even with the billions spent on government programs now, we haven’t managed to eradicate poverty.  Some would argue that we’ve created a larger class of dependents due to the complications of administering such sweeping social service offerings.  Many of those who are helped by such programs are truly in need, but some are gaming the system.  Sorting them out is all but impossible in the blizzard of paperwork and personnel that sucks a lot of that money into the black hole of bureaucracy.

Also, I think it’s very easy for the government to overreach in the area of regulation, and very difficult to pull that overreaching hand back again.  Take the health care reform bill, for example.  In one mighty sweep, the government has moved to exercise control over the country’s medical practices and the insurance industry.  Those who crafted the law are not experts in either field, and nearly every day we hear of some unintended consequence of that naiveté as the fallout impacts coverage, costs, and availability of a service that worked just fine for 85% of America’s citizens.  A much smaller, more bipartisan bill could have addressed the coverage of the uninsured; the health care overhaul we got is akin to using a sledgehammer to drive a three-penny nail.

Like I said, I think the real answers are somewhere in the middle, but I definitely lean toward smaller government.  How about you?


7 responses »

  1. I don’t like either extreme, but if you are going to FORCE ME TO CHOOSE, I guess I’d have to side with the big government.

    Why? I’m something of a cynic, and don’t believe my neighbors have my best interests at heart. I don’t blame them. We all tend to be too comfortable with the “Mine mine mine” model.

    I think we, as a country, work better together when on the same page. But, you’re right, the answer lies in the middle, not at the extremes. We have to have social programs available to everyone, from roads to parks to schools to Social Security. I think those things make everyone’s lives happier and more fulfilled.

    I wouldn’t want to live in an “Every man for himself” society.

  2. I can’t choose either; we have to work towards something in between.

    If you have insurance, I can understand your view on health care. I am an RN w/o insurance, 63yo on Soc Sec.

    But many of us, I worked for over 40yrs, lost our insurance when we lost our job (mine due to injury).
    The cost is prohibitive for me even with a monthly cost of $300.00 because of the $10,00.00 annual deductible for major medical.

    The health care system needs to be adjusted by someone, somehow. If this doesn’t work modify it until it does.
    One example to cut costs is as simple as demanding a universal insurance form. I mean, how easy would that be?

    Regarding entitlements, pull back on corporate and (I’m sorry) farm and small businesses among others.
    If this country uses a free market model, then it’s survival of the fittest. Then examine each entitlement
    and review it’s effectiveness.

    Every one yells for cutting back on the budget until it affects them. There might be more just reform by looking at the big picture and not the picture reflected in the mirror.

  3. I’m with you on the small government model. I don’t like being told what I have to do by the government – you HAVE to buy insurance that you can’t afford because I said so, and if you don’t, you’ll pay a penalty that you can’t afford either! Who exactly is that helping? And then there are the companies that are opting to drop their insurance coverage all-together, because its cheaper for them to pay the 1-time penalty than to continue to carry insurance for their employees! Then what? Those employees, that aren’t being monetarily compensated for not having insurance available through their employer are now being forced (by big government) to purchase independent insurance that they can’t afford or pay the penalty! Its a vicious circle!! Yes, there are those without coverage now that think this is the end-all answer to their prayers, but I believe that there will ultimately be more people without insurance, and more debt, because of it.

    We went without insurance up until 2 1/2 years ago! When we had a doctor’s appointment, we were given a discounted rate by our doctors! When we had an emergency, we were given a “cash price” that was around 80% less than the regular price, and a payment plan was worked out – even just $10 a month! A CAT scan that cost my sister-in-law $4000 AFTER INSURANCE, cost me about $400 cash price!!! Tell me that the hospitals and insurance companies, and now the government, aren’t raping Americans!

    And don’t even get me started on the rapidly disappearing freedoms that are being ripped away from us one by one!!

    Yep, I’m all about small government! My neighbors are great friends and I already trust them more than the politicians that are opting themselves out of the reform they are forcing upon us!!

  4. I’m also for small government. At least small federal government. I’m a fan of state’s rights. If one particular state wants to tax the heck out of everyone, then that’s fine. People in individual states can decide how much control they want over their own lives. If I had a choice, I would want to live in a country and state that didn’t meddle too much. Build the roads, pay the cops and teachers, make laws against hurting and taking advantage of people. But that’s about it. I think that the idea of welfare and unemployment benefits are great, but rarely are they used correctly. I’m not saying it’s the people who use it’s fault, either. The system itself is flawed. If you make more money, your benefits are taken away, and you end up making less money. So why make more money? Why aspire to anything more. And as far as health care goes, I do think that health care providers take advantage of people with insurance. They charge the insurance companies so much more than they need to, which makes insurance costs go up. I think the American people should be able to be good consumers and shop around for insurance that fits them and for doctors who charge reasonable fees. I know that when I was pregnant with Lily and had a $2700 deductible, you can bet I shopped around and refused some services. This time around, I had government employee insurance and since so much was covered, didn’t ask those kinds of questions. And I think that being a good consumer (like I was the first time, but not the second time) holds insurance companies and medical providers accountable.

  5. Small government. With patient decisions being made by doctors and patient families. People taking care of each other, ideally.
    Of course, that’s ideal. I feel like I work so much that I neglect the elderly around me, or the infirm. I HATE that. That’s an issue…balance of work, home, and civic/community responsibilities. It just seems that there’s so much room for all of us to SIMPLIFY, you know? It shouldn’t be this hard for communities, schools, hospitals, governments (local and federal) to function.

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