I enjoy reading M. Alex Stephens’ articles. They are well written and entertaining. But I disagree with his view that the huge federal government is “necessary,” as stated in his editorial titled, “A thank you to the government.”
The federal government may have the best intentions, and citizens appreciate these intentions, but in reality the federal government does not achieve what it sets out to do, but instead creates unintended consequences, waste and inefficiency.
This comes from many people’s belief that it is OK to depend on the government to take care of them from cradle to grave. It takes away the power of the individual for personal responsibility and instills a collective attitude. This mindset makes people think they should suspend their individuality in order to accommodate society as a whole.
The extreme result is the people loving the state in a superficial way. Take the current economic crisis. The Federal Reserve, as an institution of the federal government, decided to bail out the big guys on Wall Street and award all those CEOs for giving bonuses for their risky behavior.
The Fed intervened with policies to increase credit, where the ease of credit was the problem in the first place. The Fed has been the central economic planner in monetary policy since its inception in 1913. This is not free market economics.
The Fed should not have intervened to bail out Wall Street and instead should have let the failing institutions fail and our economy to restructure naturally.
Stephens is also incorrect regarding health care. Medicare and Medicaid has been a wasteful government intervention and have not actually benefited society.
As Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, says, “In the days before Medicare and Medicaid, the poor and elderly were admitted to hospitals at the same rate they are now and received good care. Before those programs came into existence, every physician understood that he or she had a responsibility toward the less fortunate, and free medical care was the norm. Hardly anyone is aware of this today, since it doesn’t fit into the typical, by-the-script story of government rescuing us from a predatory private sector.”
The Food and Drug Administration, contrary to what Stephens claimed, is not such a great institution of the federal government either.
As political commentator Lew Rockwell says, “For years, the FDA and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have continued to censor and engage in heavy-handed attempts to restrict access to supplements and educational information for Americans, even when courts have ruled the public has a right to information about dietary supplements and should judge the merits of health claims for supplements for themselves rather than having the FDA make such decisions.” Why restrict information for Americans?
Stephens also said the New Deal was great. What about the excise taxes the federal government imposed on such goods as beer, liquor, cigarettes and chewing gum? The New Deal appears to have been paid by the poor and middle class. A policy to tax the poor and middle class is not sensible, especially in an era such as the Great Depression.
Also, Stephens is wrong about the FDIC, which instead of being beneficial is in fact a moral hazard. As Paul says, “The deposit insurance system transfers liability for poor management decisions from those who made the decisions, to their competitors. This system punishes those financial institutions which follow sound practices, as they are forced to absorb the losses of their competitors.”
Stephens needs to realize that we should be more hesitant before we praise the federal government.
David Ballantine is a senior political science major. Letters and feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.