Thursday, January 1, 2009

Asking For Change: Problem or Solution?

Instead of presenting some cheesy "New Year's Resolution" post, Obamathon Man unveils to the general populace a new series. Asking For Change: an occasional series on what should change in the U.S. under a new president, why it should change, and how we all can make it happen.

One of the defining moments in late 20th century American politics was the ascendancy of Ronald Reagan. Reagan was, of course, the first and most famous of a new breed of politician, the actor-slash-politician. Reagan had all the charm of a used car salesman, and during his presidency he sold the country on the idea that "the government is the problem", an idea which has persisted ever since.

But is the government the really the problem? Certainly there have been plenty of governments that were (and are) problematic, to their citizens and to the world. Would it then be best to get rid of governments? Somalia effectively has no government, and that has also presented problems for both citizens of Somalia and other countries as well.

The truth is, it is naive to bullheadedly operate on the mantra that "government is the problem", just as it is naive to think government is the solution; it can be a part of either. For the past several decades, we have thought that services were good because they were public or private, depending on our ideology. We need to move beyond that. Run schools, roads, utilities, and hospitals in such a way as to get the best results, whether that means publicly or privately. On the campaign trail, Obama said, "We don't need bigger government or smaller government, we need better government." America needs to realize that public and private works are not ends in themselves - human well being and freedom are. Real change will be freeing ourselves from our ideological barriers and working to make things better.

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