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November 18, 2005

What is it good for?

The answer to this seems obvious to a lot of us, but I'm doing some reading on the topic these days.

Today's reading is Katrina in Perspective: The disaster raises key questions about the role of government in American society

A central tenet of conservative ideology is the belief that government interferes with individual liberty, is less efficient than the private sector, and in many cases is simply unnecessary. Among the world's industrial nations, the US has the lowest overall level of taxation (especially for the wealthy), has the weakest regulations on business for consumer and worker protections, and has the smallest safety net in terms of health insurance, child care, and anti-poverty programs.

Even so, conservatives like President George W. Bush, his Republican allies in Congress, his intellectual strategists like Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform and William Kristol of the Weekly Standard, and the corporate-sponsored policy wonks at the American Enterprise Institute, Cato Institute, and the Heritage Foundation argue that (with the exception of military spending) we need to further reduce government, in large part by cutting taxes even more, especially for the very rich. They call this "starving the beast," reducing taxes so much that government in general, and the federal government in particular, will be virtually paralyzed.

With the Katrina disaster, these conservatives got what they were looking for. When it was needed most, government was paralyzed, and for the past two weeks we've been watching the consequences on television.

It's an interesting and, I think, objective discussion of what's needed. Government is needed. And, yes, government reform is needed.

"Starving the beast" does not qualify as reform.

Posted by AnneZook at 11:08 AM