Government is worth paying for
October 7, 2011 9 Comments
Yglesias makes a nice point today in a post about the Democrats “tax the rich” strategy. By implying that middle-class Americans should never have to pay more taxes and ceding so much ground to Republican talking points, Democrats essentially do Republicans work for them on this. Yglesias:
The implicit message here is identical to the conservative message on taxes — public services aren’t worth paying for.
My view is that that’s mistaken. Or at least it ought to be mistaken. That having a police force is a good idea. That transportation infrastructure is broadly useful and beneficial. That a military that meets the country’s national security needs is essential to everyone’s wellbeing, and that one that goes beyond real security needs is a waste that should be curtailed. There’s nothing wrong with a little redistribution to enhance social welfare, and there’s nothing wrong with observing that you have to go for revenue to where the money is. But you can’t be making the case for an active public sector on the basis of a promise that nobody will ever be asked to pay for anything. You have to make the case that the public sector is going to do things that are important and valuable. [emphasis mine]
Of course government is wasteful. But so is any large-scale human endeavor (including private corporations). But, if Democrats are not willing to make the case for Government as a force for good, than who will?