Government is worth paying for

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?

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

9 Responses to Government is worth paying for

  1. Yes wea all agree that a basic level of government is necessary. Obama et al have been trying to really ratchet up government. For example the EPA wants to add 240,000 jobs to monitor CO2 emissions for example.

    In “REAL SCIENCE” they have double blind studies and control studies. I have been doing FOIA requests and to date have not found one single control study or double blind study on global warming out of the BILLIONS OF DOLLARS EXPENDED for example.

    Bush raised our debt by 4 trillion in 8 years largely because of the overseas wars but also because the democratically controlled congress went on a spending spree that he could not veto. Obama et all has increased our debt by over 4 trillion is 21/2 years with nothing to show for it.

    John Wilder

    • David says:

      You’re forgetting the 2 trillion in massively regressive tax cuts. I guess I shouldn’t complain and consider it progress when conservatives acknowledge the cost of our wars, so you do get partial credit.

      • Tax increases always fail and cuts in taxes always succeed. This was also the position of John F Kennedy. Reagan brought massive new tax revenue by cutting tax rates.

        If you want to increase taxes, how about a minimul tax on the lower half of our society who don’t pay ANY taxes saying that the rich need to pay even more.

        John Wilder

  2. Mike Barr says:


    What would a double-blind study look like in this instance? Or maybe you can tell me what your ideal study would look like?

  3. Jason says:

    1. This EPA claim comes from where? Rick Perry?

    2. I’m a little confused about your “real science” concern; would the control be an alternate earth without man-made pollution? Are the 95%+ of scientists who have researched various aspects of global warming using peer-reviewed methods part of some conspiracy? What is the evidence for this?

    3. It would be a surprise to Democrats that in the two years of the Bush administration in which they controlled Congress that they went on a spending spree! (Especially since their “control” of the Senate involved having a filibustering minority of 49 Republicans.) Let alone one that rivaled the Bush tax cuts and wars…

  4. Hey Jason

    2. In real science there has to be double blind and control studies to eliminate tester bias. When you have the government giving huge research grants to prove global warming then the scientsts who depend on grants for their livlihood give them what they want. Shwo me the evidence that 95% of all sicentists believe in CO2 caused global warming.

    John Wilder

  5. Jason says:

    1. That article itself notes that the 240,000 jobs claim is not true, and links to this article which goes into more detail:

    2. Well, here’s one random article found using Google in five seconds, from Science Daily:

    As it summarizes: “A group of 3,146 earth scientists surveyed around the world overwhelmingly agree that in the past 200-plus years, mean global temperatures have been rising, and that human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures.”

    • Hey Jason
      Actually the scientists only claim a one degree increase in the mean average global temperature. I will be the first to admit that it could easily be due to human activity which has absolutely nothing to do with the 80ppm increase in CO2. That by the way is
      8/100,000ths of 1% increase. I tried to graph this and the tightest graph that I could design was 12 marks per inch. I would then have to have a graph 694 feet long to illustrates 100,000ths and the increase on that graph would be a measly 3/4 of an inch.

      Now the best model for the increase due to human activity can be found at the Mall of America in Minneapolis which happens to be the second largest mall
      in the world. Now the temp routinely gets down to 25 below in the winter time. In spite of these low temps
      the temp in the mall stays at a comfortable 68 degrees
      WITHOUT ANY FURNACES. This is an increase of 93 degrees from outside ambient temperature.

      The temp increase is due to the heat from the lights in
      the mall and the body temps of the visitors. They have
      more visitors than does Disney World.

      Now we have at any one time 5,000 jets flying over our
      country at all times. These jets have exhaust temps of
      1,800 degrees. Add that to all the human increase in population, asphalt roofs and roads reflecting back heat as well as all the other cars, busses and trucks
      as well as all the other activities could easily lead
      to a one degree increase in the world wide temp.

      Now the scientists and the government are not really trying to reduce CO2 emissions otherwise they would call for an immediate ban on all soft drinks. We
      MANUFACTURE IN THE LAB CO2 to put into the soft drinks which of course leak back into the atmosphere, not to mention, fermentation from beer and hard liquor and wine production not to mention bread making. Of course the public would revolt. They just want to TAX CO2.

      John Wilder

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