We hear a lot these days about smaller government. We hear the deficit is out of control; we need to spend less. Government, it is said, should stay out of our everyday lives. A picture is painted in which everyone happily supports themselves and their families, independent of government help. Because, of course, only those who are lazy, or shiftless, or somehow inferior can’t do this.
I suspect this applies until we find ourselves in one of those situations, through no fault of our own, where we desperately need government support. We have a special-needs child or a parent who simply can’t anymore make it on his or her own. A hurricane blows out of the south and the resultant rains flood our town, wiping away a century of historic buildings–including our house. A snowstorm paralyzes our entire city; the bridge across the river becomes dangerous and needs to be rebuilt.
In these cases, it’s obvious that while the support of friends is important, the bigger problem isn’t going to be solved by a bake sale at the local shopping mall or a special offering at church or even a telethon. These are situations where we need a strong, compassionate government to step in and help us.
If one is of this mindset–that we need to get government to stay out of our lives–should one not turn down the special programs to help the child live as full and productive a life as possible? Are they willing for their parent “to make do” without the medicine or care needed? Will they turn away the National Guard when they arrive to help with the rebuilding of our community and our lives? Are they ready and willing to go out to the main road in front of their home and take responsibility for shoveling the snow from that portion themselves? Will they cooperate with their neighbors and organize a “bridge-raising” to make sure everyone can safely cross the river?
I agree, these are rather extreme solutions for these problems; yet, if some get their way in our state and national government, this might just be the choices we face.
Personally, I can do without ten or twenty dollars a week in my paycheck to have a well-equipped fire department and fully staffed police department. I can live without the meal at the fast-food restaurant to make sure children have well-paid teachers who don’t have to moonlight at that same fast-food restaurant to make ends meet, and I can skip the movie so children can attend a state university with high standards and the best possible professors.
The next time you consider the benefits of smaller government or hear someone on television say how important it is to cut our national budget, take a few minutes to consider the alternatives. Do you really want smaller government? Or, maybe in your case it’s different.