Thursday, March 24, 2016

Government Good Deeds List

This morning one of my co workers came in all excited because she was walking her dog along the Merrimack River and she saw a bald eagle.

Which reminded me they are now seeing bald eagles near Lock 8 on the C&O Canal along the Potomac near my former home there. When I was growing up in the 1960's along the Potomac, nothing but carp and catfish could survive in that river, which was really scummy and smelled bad.

Government made industries clean up their acts and the rivers were born again. If libertarians or big business Republicans of today had their way, those rivers would still be cesspools. 

So this is my first item on the list of "Good Things Government Does."

Of course, state government failed to keep the water non toxic in Flint, and the villains there were not industrial miscreants but old and unsafe infrastructure. The trouble in Flint was government failed to do its job. Of course, when the government does it's job and enforces regulations, that is not something we think of as a good thing: It's just like functioning sewers and water treatment--it's just there.

So, I invite my legions of silent readers to raise their voices, or click their mouses and add to my list of Good Things Government Does, in no particular order: 
(NB:  Libertarians will argue some or all of these things could be done by private enterprise, e.g. road building and road maintenance, but what is on this list are things I would argue for structural reasons are better done, more efficiently done by government.)

#1  Clean Rivers. (Environmental Protection.)

#2 FAA traffic control.

#3 Coast Guard rescue.

#4 Public schools (when they work.)

#5 Social Security

#6 Medicare

#7 National Defense

#8 Parks and recreation (e.g. Central Park New York City, Mountain Major, New Hampshire, and all the National Parks)

#9 Prisons (hard to think of prisons in a positive way, but it's one of those things somebody has to do)

#10 Police (as in "Serve and Protect" as opposed to "Shoot and Stomp.")


  1. Mad Dog,
    Having seen a bald eagle on a couple of occasions now, I can understand your coworker's excitement-it's an unexpected delight. Especially given how scarce they were by the 70's, but government got things right by initiating the Endangered Species list, banning destructive chemicals like DDT and working to clean the rivers. The Merrimack in the 60's and 70's was a cess pool that always appeared on the "Ten Dirtiest Rivers In America" list and now, like the Potomac, is home to not only fish, but eagles. Thank you Government..As for your list--don't forget Fire and Rescue..

  2. Maud,
    I'm told bald eagles and loons are sort of bell weathers for clean water.
    I've heard loons on Lake Kezar, in Maine.
    Don't think I've ever heard anything so magical outside a concert hall.
    Heard the gibbons shriek from Connecticut Avenue, above the National Zoo, but the loons were even more amazing.
    But I digress.
    Yes, Fire and Rescue.
    Of course, the Free State Initiative would say this could be commercialized. I can feature that. The guys from Hampton Fire and Rescue arrive at your burning house and ask for your Master Card and run it through their portable unit to be sure, then they start pumping the water. If it's snowing, that's a surcharge, like baggage at the airlines and if you have not got a reservation, well, that's extra, too.
    Who needs government?
    Mad Dog