- Important: All passwords were reset on 06/15/11. Old passwords will no longer work. Click here to retrieve your password.
- Subscribe to Our Free Dewsletter
We are non-commercial, all volunteer and supported by our readers. Please help sustain the Dew by making a donation.
We’re Number One
Republicans say that the U.S. government has become way too big and that Americans are grossly overtaxed. Is that true?
In the United States, the rate of taxation is lower, and the size of government in relation to the size of the economy is smaller, than in just about every other nation like ours—rich, free, capitalistic, democratic societies.
Our peers around the world have decided that the best balance between the things that can be bought by people separately in the market and the things we have to buy together through tax dollars means having a government as big as ours, or bigger. So if Republicans are right, and government and taxation are too big, then not only are Americans foolish — every other society like ours is foolish.
In the Declaration of Independence, our Founders called for “a decent respect for the opinions of mankind.” And dismissing as foolish the judgment of dozens of advanced societies like ours hardly seems in keeping with that “decent respect.”
The attempt to discredit government and reduce its size may serve some interests but not the people. For example, government is the only entity strong enough to serve as a check on the huge agglomerations of private power in our big corporations.
The issue shouldn’t be the size of government but how wisely and justly we use it.
When Republicans call for cuts in spending, they take the position that we need to cut back on social programs and, indeed, on virtually every aspect of non-defense discretionary spending. But they strongly oppose cuts to defense spending. Is this the way to make America the best that it can be?
Republicans have in recent years encouraged the habit of boasting about our country, “We’re number 1.” And when it comes to defense spending, we’re already number 1, and it’s not a close call. The United States spends almost as much on defense as the rest of the nations of the world combined. And most of the other large defense budgets are in countries that are our allies, not our enemies.
Is military spending the part of the budget where more spending will do most to help this nation fulfill its potential?
We’re also number 1 of all the nations on earth in how many of our people are in prison, number 1 among the 20 major advanced nations in the rate of infant mortality rate; in income inequality; in the proportion of our people, especially our children, who live in poverty; in how much we spend per person on health care, while also having the most people who go without health care because of cost.
Shouldn’t these be the kinds of areas where we invest?
Among advanced nations, we have the highest homicide rate; the second-highest high school drop-out rate; the highest rate of obesity; and the lowest rate of social mobility (the ability of people to climb up to a higher economic level than that into which they were born).
In tests of students from around the world, in various subjects, America’s children come out far from the top.
Are you satisfied with this picture? I’m not.
What does it say about a political party if it protects that part of the budget where we’re already fat, and wants to trim areas where we are hurting and deficient?
What kind of patriot brags about his country’s greatness while advocating policies that undermine its true strength?
- Image: Licensed by LikeTheDew.com at iStock.com
Worthy of Comment
Also on the Dew
Monday, Day One: newly merged Southwest Air/Air Tran offered the best price, $144 one way Atlanta/New York City. The sore butt that kicked in about halfway, and lingered, suggests one of the reasons - but the thrifty, I’ve learned, endure the affordable. The relief of wheels thumping good ol’ runway quickly faded, replaced by the stress of navigating around outside my current comfort zone. Once the new terrain becomes familiar, the zone expands and that’s when the fun starts. Walking from 14th street to the East Village, St. Mark’s Place near the Great Hall at Cooper Union, is where that happene Read on →
At this time in my life I am beginning to view so much of what is happening around me through an increasingly cynical prism. As a friend is quick to point out, though, that behind every committed cynic there is a disappointed idealist wondering what happened to a world that once seemed so good and full of possibilities. I blame Shakespeare for part of my mental dyspepsia. It all began back in university when a supercilious professor dressed down a fellow student for misspelling the bard’s name. Now after reading Bill Bryson’s book Shakespeare: The World As Stage, I find that the Read on →
Above my family homestead in the East Tennessee foothills is an old, abandoned cemetery. I admit I've never seen it, but I think about it often. I imagine the worn stone markers neck deep in leaves in the fall or peeking out of the winter snow like early hyacinths. In my imagination, I never bothered to name these people, much less engage in meaningful character development. I don’t know them in any sense of the word; I just know that they are up there, tucked deeply in an earthy hollow waiting for whatever comes next. I don’t expect anyone comes to vis Read on →
Why do we care what happens in Ferguson, Missouri? Because on some level we recognize that if any one group or community can be officially deprived of their human and civil rights without restraint, then it can happen to any other group or neighborhood. Sea Island, Georgia is proof. Sea Island, Georgia has been turned into an exclusive neighborhood. Random visitors are turned away at a guarded gate and even residents driving off the island must pause and wait for the barricade to rise and let their vehicle pass unscratched. Presumably, pedestrians can leave unchallenged. Though, people on foot are universally Read on →