Our government is not the enemy.

President Ronald Reagan is famous for saying, “Government isn’t the solution to our problem.  Government is the problem.”  The quote eloquently expressed his contempt for government.   An opinion I don’t share.

I have difficulty believing that my high school classmate who served as a Postman is an enemy.  I’m not frightened of another classmate who served as an engineer for the Navy.  And I certainly don’t view my Marine nephew who served in Iraq as an enemy. 

The government is comprised of many hard-working, well-intentioned people who provide valuable services to the rest of us.  Without the government, we would have no military, Coast Guard, police, fire fighters, park rangers, air controllers, customs officials, border patrol, immigration officials, highway engineers, sanitation workers and postal workers.  There would be no FDA, EPA, FEMA, FDIC or CDC.  No NASA.  No Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and VA services.  Without government subsidies, many family farmers could not make a living.  And most academic and research institutions would be unable to explore the limits of science and medicine.   

All of this is not to say that government agencies wouldn’t benefit from some reform and restructuring.  But vilifying them is disingenuous at best.  In general, government fulfills all of the tasks that are too important, too difficult or too unprofitable for private enterprise.  

Health insurance is a good case in point.

According to most estimates there are nearly 47 million uninsured in the U.S. and many millions more who are under-insured.  Why?  They either can’t afford health insurance, or they are not viewed as profitable enough for insurance companies.  Sounds like a perfect situation for a government-run health insurance option, doesn’t it? 

Not according to Republicans and their media mouthpieces.  To them, that would be Socialism, indeed Nazism.  It has also been said that a public option would represent unfair competition for privately run insurance companies.  Seriously?  To me, it sounds more like helping those who are falling through the cracks of our current system. 

But don’t count on logic permeating the thick skulls of Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly.  And don’t count on Republicans stooping to something as unsavory as bipartisanship.  Look no further than recent statements made by two Republican members of the Senate Finance Committee who are alleged to be negotiating on health care reform.  Despite polls that show a significant majority of Americans want health care reform, including a public option, Senator Grassley stated that he won’t vote for any bill he negotiates unless he’s certain that a significant number of Republican Senators vote for it.  And Senator Enzi stated that he’s only continuing to negotiate with Democrats on the committee in order to delay and kill the legislation.

In other words, if there is to be any reasonable health care reform, Democrats are going to have to pass it by themselves.

It makes one wonder, if Republicans believe our government is so bad, why didn’t they simply abolish the abhorrent programs and departments when they had control of the Presidency and Congress?  And why did George W. Bush preside over history’s largest increase in the size of government during his administration? 

The next time you hear conservatives bash our government, remember this:  Our government was created of the people, by the people and for the people.  It is what we’ve created through our votes.  All the disciples of that slick-talking former actor can’t change that.