Friday, May 7, 2010

Curiously Embracing Big Government When We Need It....Trashing It Otherwise

As my friend Rick Lippin said recently, "our relationship with big government is like that of a teenager with their parents....we hate them until we need them." For the past couple of years we have heard Republicans and Tea Party-types allege of how government is destroying American freedom and liberty. We've heard talk of how the Recovery Act, for example, which appears to be having very positive affect on the American economy, is unconstitutional and attacks states rights and individual liberty.

It has always been curious to watch "the Right" run down big government.....except for those times and those programs from which they may benefit. Farmers don't generally have a problem with farm price supports, nor the small business person with the SBA subsidized loan, nor the age 65+ with medicare, nor the business which benefits from the tax credit, nor the parent who needs the college loan, on and on.

It seems we have the ultimate embrace of big government this week as the Governors of Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida, all run by small government Republicans, demand full support of the federal government as they deal with the BP oil spill tragedy. Bobby Jidal, who once joked about federal spending for volcano monitoring and tried to stop any Recovery Act money from entering Louisiana, issued a statement demanding "critical" federal government resources.

In his commencement address at the University of Michigan in front of 92,000 people last week, President Obama said, "there are some things we can only do together, as one what we should be asking is not whether we need a 'big federal government,' but how we can create a smarter, better government."

Perhaps big government naysayers will begin to realize that we live in a time of unprecedented national crises..... natural disasters, terrorist threats, soaring health care costs, immigration challenges, etc., and that such problems require a greater sense of national "community" accompanied by federal government resources and coordination.

Ronald Reagan had some great attributes, but the greatest damage he did was to demonize government, a hypocritical attitude many on "the Right" continue to embrace. Let's hope for better. I see signs.

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