Letter: Government and our demands

To the editor:

While listening to the news coverage about the federal government’s sequestration, I am struck by two items reflecting the beliefs of our political figures in Congress, the Administration, and many Americans. First, nobody wants sequestration. Second, at its core sequestration is an argument about the size and reach of the federal government.

On the first point, I contend that our federal representatives and the administration very much want sequestration. Otherwise, they would not have enacted it. Each side sees sequestration as a club with which to force their views and beat their opponent in the race for campaign cash.

On the second point, I suggest that “big government” vs. “small government” is a pointless argument.

Over the course of 234 years we, the people have demanded the federal government be grown to cover the huge span of diverse needs of a growing population; racial, ethnic, religious, secular, wealthy, poor; the list is endless. This diversity brings with it demands for inclusive and fair legislation.

No one wants big government until their personal interests are directly threatened. Then, we expect immediate relief from nature’s catastrophes; we expect our food supply to be safe; we expect our drugs to be helpful; we expect to travel safely; we expect to be defended against invasion; we expect to have gas available whenever we pull up to the pump; we expect bridges we cross to hold up; we expect safe and well-educated children; we expect clean air and water; we expect to avoid poverty in our old age. Each of these expectations—and thousands more— have a cost. The national highway system built during the Republican Eisenhower years was paid for by a 91 percent top tax rate in the 1950s. Today’s top rate is 35 percent and our bridges are decaying.

With these expectations, our government is simply the size it is in order to meet 234 years of demands made by 314 million people.

Robert Rue

Peterborough

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