Monday, June 22, 2009

Bigger Government or Better Government?

As part of my habit of monitoring right wing talk radio as a method of knowing one's opposition, I regularly tune in to the Neal Boortz show. As anyone who has read my blog regularly knows, I can't stand the guy. He labels himself a libertarian conservative and his philosophy could be characterized as objectivism in the Ayn Rand vein. But I just call him an elitist, as one of his favorite topics to harp on is what he calls "wealth envy", which is his particular spin on justifying selfishness and his disdain for poor people and others in unfortunate circumstances.

But sometimes the man surprises me. Recently, he's been getting a spate of callers of the tinfoil hat brigade variety who call in to rant about President Obama, saying he "hates America" and wants to "destroy our country."

To my surprise, and to be perfectly fair, Boortz always corrects such callers. He tells them that the President doesn't hate America, nor does he want to "destroy" it, but rather that he's got a different idea from the caller (and him) on what makes America great.

True enough and a perfectly rational answer. It's a shame he's not as even-handed about other topics with conflicting viewpoints as well.

But then he goes on to say that Barack Obama believes that government is what makes this country great, unlike himself and the caller who believe that America is great because of its people and freedom (which he defines primarly as economic freedom, especially from the perspective of the wealthy). He implies that this also means that Obama believes the bigger the government, the better.

I find that highly misleading. For one thing, all politicians, regardless of party, "believe" in government in that they have been elected to it and seek to promote governmental policies that they believe are effective and useful. They "believe in government in that they wish to effect changes by working within the system as elected representatives, instead of through the private sector.

And it doesn't logically follow that because Barack Obama is committing to working through the system to implement his policies on how to make our great country greater, that he would automatically think that simply making it bigger would be his goal. Rather, he wants to work within the system to make government work better and more effectively, rather than simply increasing its size.

It's his perfect right to deride the role of government in our society, but unless the highly unlikely scenario occurs in that we turn into an anarchistic society, we will have a government of some sort. It seems to me that it would be better to talk about ways of improving government, rather than denigrating its role in a civilized society at every given opportunity

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