Featured Artwork: Russia

Featured Artwork:  Russia
Featured Artwork: Sergius of Radonezh blessing Dmitry Donskoy in Trinity Sergius Lavra, before the Battle of Kulikovo, depicted in a painting by Ernst Lissner (Russia)

Monday, April 04, 2016

The Shame of Anti-Government Rhetoric

Almost lost in this season's political cacophony is the old debate about whether more or less government is best.  For many, many decades the Republican Party had advocated for a reduced role for government.  This policy, formulated and promulgated cleverly, led to numerous drastic cuts in needed government programs, especially in family support, education, job support, and Medicare.

Earlier I was reading an old high school textbook entitled simply American Government.  It is by Magruder.  I have gone through the first chapter so far and have been fairly astonished at not only what the government was doing in 1937 but why and how government programs were improving the lives of farmers, city dwellers, and everyone living along flood-prone riverbanks.  So much had the government been doing to alleviate pain and suffering and to protect the safety of people, that I felt almost breathless.  The prose made me feel good about my country.

There is a lesson here for those who would "make America great again" through bluster and verbal (and perhaps military) aggression.   This is the America which was so admired during and immediately after World War II.  Wisely, Eisenhower did not seek a wholesale dismantling of the progress which had been made under FDR.  But come the 1960s, with a new crop of conservatives such as Barry Goldwater, William F. Buckley, Jr., and Ronald Reagan commanding the stage, the tone and tenor as well as the content of public discourse began to swing back toward the old laissez faire  attitude of the past, and away from a concept of government as actively doing good.

When I read in the old textbook about how it became accepted wisdom that the dangers to the health and safety of workers were better born by industries as a whole, and not by individuals, I was very moved.  We now have some form of workers' compensation in every state, and it is taken for granted.  But once there was no workers' compensation and businesses could argue that the worker had been negligent, or some third party had been to blame.  No one wants to go back to the old way of doing things.  No one, that is, except perhaps miserly misanthropes of the corporate board rooms.  

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