Via Erik at LGM comes this NY Times piece from Michael Lipsky about our national parks and how their beauty and wilderness is a testament to the good that government can do. Highly recommended reading.
It also caused me to want to ball up on the floor and cry. Not because it's bad; it's great. But because it had to be written in the first place. That's how stupid our political discourse has gotten, that people are actually defending the existence of the government. It's like having a debate about whether or not water is good for you. In a sense, I feel like defending the existence of government is wasting your breath. If people who are just generally "against" government can't see how their day to day life is affected by—usually for the better—the existence of government, I don't know that rational arguments pointing it out are going to make much difference. They clearly live in a fantasy world. Rationality has no influence on them.
Seriously, just grab a notebook and put in a hashmark for every time you do something that you couldn't do if it weren't for government regulation, funding, and organizing. You'll find you fill a page up before lunch with hashmarks. I've been up for an hour now, and I've made coffee(1,2,3), eaten breakfast (4,5), had a glass of water (6), used the toilet (7,8), checked stuff on my iPhone (9, 10, 11, 12, 13), gotten online through my computer (14, 15, 16, 17, 18) , and read some stuff (19). I played with my cats (20, 21, 22). Oh yeah, this whole time I was wearing pajamas (23) and using electricity (24). I haven't even left the house or finished my coffee so I can brush my teeth. Leaving the house will multiply those hashmarks exponentially.
In other words, "we need government in order to have our standard of living" isn't an argument. It's just a fact. It's pathetic that this "debate" is even going on.
1) Clean water.
2) International trade agreements getting the coffee to the U.S.
3) Roads to ship it to the store.
4) Clean water.
7) Seriously, water.
8) Regulations governing size and other aspects of the toilet.
9) International trade.
10) Anti-trust legislation.
11) Funding research into space programs that make satellite techonology possible.
13) Funding the development of the internet.
14-18) See iPhone, but substitute "regulation of cable lines" for the satellite technology stuff.
19) Thanks, public schools, for the literacy!
20) Government-mandated vaccines.
21) Obtained from a government-funded shelter.
22) Brought to me via roads.
23) International trade.