To Promote the General Welfare: The Case for Big Government

To Promote the General Welfare: The Case for Big Government

To Promote the General Welfare: The Case for Big Government

To Promote the General Welfare: The Case for Big Government

Synopsis

Americans love to hate their government. There is a long tradition of anti-government suspicion that goes back all the way to the founding of the nation. The election of Barack Obama, however, has created one the largest backlashes against government in our history. Tea partiers, fueled bytalk radio and cable TV demagogues, have created a political atmosphere of anger and hostility toward our government rivaled perhaps only by the pre-Civil War era of the 1850s.Lost at the Tea Party rallies and in talk radio fulminations, however, is this simple fact: the federal government plays a central role in making our society function, and it always has.This book is a collection of essays to remind Americans of that fact. Written by some of the nation's foremost and most engaging scholars, this book considers ten key aspects of American life - from education, to communication, to housing, and health - and charts the way the federal government hascontributed to American progress and everyday life. Essential - and fun - reading for anyone who wants to understand our political history and our political present, it will help inform the choices we must make about our future.

Excerpt

Not too long ago, my family and I went camping in the Four Corners region of the American Southwest. We camped at one magnificent national park after another. We drove to these places on extraordinary interstate highways that allowed us to travel over this once-difficult landscape at sixty-five miles per hour (okay, often faster). We passed reservoirs and irrigation projects built by the Army Corps of Engineers that provide water for agriculture and recreation for tourists.

And along the way we kept passing billboards denouncing “big government.” Some of them supported particular candidates for office; others were more homemade screeds. They all seemed very, very angry.

At first we giggled at them—yet more amusing examples of the “keep your government hands off my Medicare” hypocrisy that has infected so much of our recent political debate.

But after a while and a few hundred miles, the joke began to wear off, and we genuinely began to wonder: don’t these people see it? That so much of what enriches life in this part of the country has been made possible by one federal project after another?

After all, a trip like ours through the Southwest often takes you past enormous military installations, physical manifestations of an economy dependent on “big government” spending . . .

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