Thursday, January 7, 2016

NO and NOW

Sometimes things get too big. And when they get too big they just become sick and dysfunctional.
If you do any gardening, take care of house plants - you know that plants need tending if they are going to continue to grow and stay healthy. In the garden, too many plants too close together will stunt growth. Potted plants need enough room to allow their roots to expand but not too much so that all the water is absorbed by the soil. The art of gardening is in the balance - space and nutrients.
The balance of government is the same sort of challenge.
Watching the discussions from my conservative and libertarian friends, I see a disdain for "big government" but also see that they do not like talk of limiting or eliminating social security benefits, would like to have help with health care costs, and many have taken advantage of unemployment benefits or disability benefits. It's also evident that my conservative and libertarian friends value the police, firefighters, and general upkeep of the roads. Many value public education. Some are even government workers who expect to have a decent pension at the end of their service.
So, the question really is about balance.
A free market is not going to provide social security benefits for all. A free market is not going to drive lower health care costs. A free market is not going to provide unemployment and disability protections. It's not going to provide general police and fire protection or a comprehensive infrastructure for transportation. The free market is not going to support public education and we're seeing fewer and fewer companies supporting general pension plans. The free market is focused on two things - cutting costs and making profits fast. The free market is about shareholder value NOW.
NOW is fine if it is balanced with what the results will be 5 or 10 years from now. NOW based decisions that are not balanced with future outcomes don't bode well. We need to look a little further down the line. Yes, we need to keep government in check. We also need to recognize where free market fails. Balance really is the key. When something gets too big it becomes dysfunctional. Let's take a closer look. Let's identify our priorities. NO and NOW are really bad answers.

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