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The Value of Government

Posted Oct 07 2012 12:00am
The coming U.S. Presidential election will likely be a referendum on the value of government in our lives.  Romney and his colleagues want government out of the way, claiming that it stifles free market capitalism.  President Obama, on the other hand, represents those who value the role of government and recognize its importance in ensuring the protection of human rights, the stability of financial institutions and the health of our natural environment.

History is replete with social advancements that were enacted and supported by government, including the civil rights movement, the liberation of women, the protection of children, the extension of voting rights and a host of environmental regulations.  Anyone who denies the key role of government in these and other areas of social progress must be blind to the selfishness, discrimination, intolerance and greed that pervades human society.  Having faith that humans, free of social law and governmental oversight, will act in the best interests of the community is naive at best.

Coming on the heels of the international financial crisis, the BP oil disaster and, most recently, the outbreak of meningitis resulting from tainted steroid preparations, many of us are alarmed by political rhetoric that promises less governmental regulation.  While individual freedoms must be protected, the government plays a vital role in making sure that rich and powerful corporations do not abuse their influence to place others at risk.  As stewards of the environment, we cannot accept their argument for less control over air, soil and water pollution, undoing the vital progress of the last Century.  Modern technology will make government less cumbersome and bureaucratic but its role in protecting the welfare of human society and our natural environment cannot be diminished.
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