I really shouldn’t read the Letters to the Editor.
A couple of days ago, I read one from a woman who applauded the government shutdown, because we don’t need all these ridiculous regulations of our foods, our businesses and our local governments.
It’s a familiar theme.
Later that day, we stopped for gas, and my husband noted that the gas pumps had a sticker denoting the date they were last inspected. “If the shutdown goes on much longer,” he said, “those pumps won’t get their next inspection. I wonder how long it will be before consumers get shorted–before the pump says one gallon but dispenses a bit less than that. It only takes turning a couple of screws.”
My more libertarian friends will undoubtedly respond that if that happened, eventually people would catch on and that station would go out of business. Maybe–after a lot of people paid for more gas than they received. Or maybe not, since people stopping at stations on highway interchanges or in unfamiliar neighborhoods are unlikely to be “in the loop” of local gossip.
Gas stations aside, I’d suggest that if the clueless author of that letter prefers not to die of botulism (I hear that’s pretty unpleasant), she should welcome those intrusive FDA food inspections. I might remind her that people working for government didn’t just wake up one day and decide–hey, wouldn’t it be fun to go inspect those pork chops!? A lot of people got sick and died, and a lot of other people demanded that government–the folks who work for us–do something about it.
Look–it is perfectly reasonable to keep an eye on government to ensure that it isn’t getting into areas it shouldn’t, or conducting itself in a less than businesslike fashion, or playing favorites. It isn’t reasonable–in fact, it’s a sign of terminal stupidity–to suggest that we really don’t need no stinkin’ government.
I have news for all these anti-government ideologues. Most Americans no longer go out to the back yard and strangle a chicken for dinner. We no longer live miles from our nearest neighbor, so we can’t just throw our garbage out back for the animals to eat. The days of settling our disputes via duels is long past. And in case you hadn’t noticed, women and minorities are no longer willing to meekly abide by a bunch of rules made by white guys to privilege white guys.
The world has changed.
Today’s America is densely populated and interdependent, and individuals have neither the time nor–god knows–the expertise to test our food for contamination, review the business practices of our merchants’ and bankers and candlestickmakers, put out fires in our neighborhoods and saddle up with the posse when a bad guy robs the local liquor store. We have things called airplanes now, and they need to be inspected; we have cars and they need roads to drive on and rules to regulate their use.
For these and a zillion other reasons, we need government.
Get over it.