The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


October 21, 2012

Size of government

The Republicans have been talking for decades about reducing the size of government. The government actually grew more under Reagan and the Bush family than under past Democratic presidents Kennedy, Carter and Clinton. But still they talk about reducing the size of government.

They desire a smaller government because small governments are more easily controlled by corporations than large ones. But Republicans never mention this. They say it is for the common good, although they never explain why.

Here is a rule of thumb that I think most political scientists could agree on:

n Small countries need small governments.

n Medium-sized countries need medium-sized governments.

n Large countries need large governments.

When the first census was taken in 1790, the population of the USA was only about 4 million. On Oct. 1, 2012, the population was 315 million. The USA is a large country now, and it needs a large government.

In fact, we need an even larger government than the census figures imply. We have more aspects of the society that we need to control. We have larger and more complicated highways, pharmaceuticals, food inspection, foreign policy, health care programs, Social Security, financial systems, farm programs, prisons and on and on. All were put in place because we need them.

These programs protect us from unethical corporations and individuals. Our health and lives depend on them. We can reduce their size, as President Obama is doing, but there is only so far we can reduce the size of government before the USA becomes a banana republic.

We need to get the anger out of the political system and get common sense back into it. This means that when campaigns are over, out leaders need to govern, not keep on campaigning. Only then can we reduce the programs and increase revenue to pay for them intelligently.

Robert Beard,


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