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writing for godot

US, the book, Installment: Government, Less? More? What Makes It Correct Government is US

Written by Tom Cantlon   
Thursday, 29 April 2021 23:42

This is a section of the book:


Everything is Done By US

We Can Make it For US

by Tom Cantlon


The list of links to chapters can be found at:


This time: Less government lets the powerful abuse US. More government is often our weak attempt to patch over problems. There is guiding criteria for what makes for correct government.


Not Less Government, Not More, Correct Government

Some people get focused on the idea that anything that can be done to cut government is good. Other people get in the habit of thinking up some new government program to solve any difficult problem. Neither is going to help US achieve what we need to.

People think less government means more freedom, but that's only half right. Certainly, government can get intrusive, but if we don't govern ourselves, if we don't force our government to do its job right and create a structure in which to be free, then there is no freedom. A reduction in government does not automatically result in greater freedom. For instance, if government does not stop industry from ruining the environment we live in or financial interests are allowed to abuse how they deal with our money even more than already happens, then that is a reduction in government that results in less freedom for US. That's where the need for correct government comes in.

Consider that one of the things that people who want less government tend to focus on is private property. They don't want government interfering in what they can do on their private property. But if there were no laws saying uninvited people aren't allowed to trespass on their property, if there was no office of county records to document where their property lines are, and if there were no police to enforce property laws, there might as well not be private property. They could get a gun and protect their property themselves, but that just becomes a lawless land of anarchy and of domination by the most violent.

And there are things best done through government, without which we might otherwise all just be campers, each camping on our private property. Things like public education for all and the highway system. Good governance can include both the basics and things that enhance the general situation for US all.

If the "let's cut government" train gets running strong, it's just an invitation for the powerful to cut those parts of government that restrain the powerful from abusing US. Pretty much the only tool we have that's powerful enough to counter powerful interests is government, government converted to use for US. If government is minimized, it leaves US with little defense against the ways the powerful would make things work exclusively to their benefit with no regard for how that damages US.

On the other hand, focusing on government to fix problems, where the government fix is just a bandage laid on top which doesn't really fix the underlying problem, that just creates different problems.

As an example, a case could be made that food stamps are a problem, but in a way you might not expect. Food stamps are needed for the elderly and the disabled and single mothers. But food stamps for able-bodied people who are working is only a need because the economy has a lot of jobs that don't pay US a livable wage. That means companies can pay people so little they can hardly survive. The food stamp program steps in and tries to help people, but a side effect is that it makes it all the more possible for companies to pay people tiny wages because they get food stamps to help get by. It just makes the problem of ridiculously tiny wages even worse.

The underlying problem is that people don't have enough leverage to get paid what they should and, in the case of the very lowest jobs, not even enough to afford both rent and food. The food stamp program is just a way to use government to put a bandage on the problem, to cover over the problem, but this doesn't fix the underlying real problem. If the underlying problem were fixed and people could demand decent pay even for bottom-level jobs, then hardly anyone with a job would need food stamps. Then food stamps could go mostly to the others who need them, the elderly and disabled and such. For now, because there are so many under-paid jobs, food stamps for working people have to continue because simply leaving people hungry is certainly not the direction we want to go. But if we regained our power to get paid our full value, then maybe food stamps could be cut back to just those in more need. Regaining our power to get paid our full value and getting all the other changes toward a country that runs for US would solve so many problems that many of the issues there are disagreements about would largely just no longer be problems.

Focusing on just cutting government or, on the other hand, looking too much to government for patches, will not help us. Just focusing on cutting government will lead to the powerful being unrestrained and even better able to have everything work in ways that benefit them. Plus, there are government programs that are a much greater help than they are a hindrance, like public education. There are some things that just won't work any other way, like it will probably take something similar to Medicare for all to finally get everyone health insurance. And there are some things that have to be done until we fix underlying problems, like continuing those food stamps for working people.

And government is an important and necessary tool in empowering US. Government could be a help to US by enforcing collective bargaining laws, so we can demand proper pay. Government could ban the fine print in employment contracts that says you can't sue if you're shorted or mistreated. It could ban similar fine print in contracts you have to sign to get services like cellular or cable or car insurance that say you can't sue them either. There are thousands of laws and rules that favor the powerful that need to be flipped to favor US. Government used by US and for US is an essential tool.

But we can't just look to government for social programs to make up for the damage done by underlying problems. Programs which leave those underlying problems unsolved. We have to focus on solving the real problems.

The goal is not minimal government, and it's not a lot of social programs. It's not about too much government or too little, it's about correct government. Government prioritizing what is most helpful to US.

That only comes from people insisting on it, and from regaining the power to mold it to work for US.



The misused word "socialism" and where social programs do and don't fit in. And how any of US who are hanging on to the two typical polarized sides on issues have been herded into those pigeon-holed positions and why this book might seem confusing as to where it fits in because it's looking beyond the pigeon-holes to a kind of change that is more radical, more powerful, and yet is entirely within the American experience. If the book's position seems confusing that may be a good sign that it's helping to break out of locked-in, pigeon-holed positions to look beyond those to better solutions.


Tom Cantlon is a business owner and writer in a small western town. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it your social media marketing partner
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