LaborTalk for March 5, 2012

Republicans Peddle the Ideal of 'Small Government':
Would Relieve Us from Dealing with Public Needs
Social Security and Medicare Would Be Transformed

By Harry Kelber

Conservative Republicans, including Tea Party activists, will emphasize "small government" as a major issue in the 2012 presidential election.

A contracted federal government, they believe, will have great appeal to the voters in November. If the government is smaller, it will probably spend less, which means that more money can be made available to our citizens. We won't continue to amass a mountain of federal debt, they say, relieving heavy burdens on taxpayers.

There will be a more critical attitude toward how federal money is spent, unlike today, when lawmakers get millions of dollars in "earmarks" for their pet projects. (Recall the funds proposed for "the bridge to nowhere")

There will be millions of dollars in annual savings if tens of thousands of bureaucrats and their meddlesome agencies are eliminated from the government. With fewer bureaucrats, there will be a sharp reduction in regulations that disrupt businesses allowing many overlapping agencies to be terminated.

We can cease our annual handouts to foreign countries to maintain their political and military allegiance, and spend the savings on building America. We don't have to get into wars that cost us billions in dollars and thousands of lives.

Under smaller federal government, there won't be Social Security and Medicare in their present form and lavish benefits. While providing some benefits to retirees, the poor, sick and elderly, the unemployed will be encouraged to seek whatever jobs are available, without depending on government handouts.

The Republicans Offer a Dream World They Cannot Deliver

While some of the Republican proposals for a smaller government appear enticing, but utopian, there is not the slightest chance that Americans will abandon their expansive life-styles to accept the restrictions that the Republicans propose. Indeed, the G.O.P. leaders know they are advocating a fantasy and have done nothing to create a blueprint for a shrunken government.

Would Americans be prepared to shut down most of our public schools to save billions in public outlays? What about museums, libraries, parks, airports, playgrounds, sports stadiums and concert halls, which operate with government funds? Would they be ready to see mail delivery reduced to one or two days a week and the layoff of many thousands of post office employees?

All of these institutions and public services, which help to make life livable, cost money, piles of money. Are we ready to curtail or eliminate many of them in order to comply with the budget requirements of a smaller government?

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What should be the role of any government, large or small? One reasonable answer: To provide important institutions and public services that individuals cannot provide by themselves.

LaborTalk will be posted here on March 8, 2012 and on our two web sites and on

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