The Role of Government

Politicians that talk about their plan to grow the economy make me angry. It’s not the government’s place to grow the economy. That’s for businesses, founded and run by citizens and responding to the market, to do.

It’s the government’s job to help its citizens live the best lives they can. One method – among many – they can use to accomplish this goal is to set the foundation for growth, by investing in infrastructure, education, and a social safety net. But these things don’t grow the economy by themselves. You can build all the bridges you want, but if no one needs drives on it, it’s not going to contribute to the economy.

I know, I know: but what about the jobs created in building that bridge? A temporary bump, at best. Much better if they build a bridge, and then need to build gas stations and apartment blocks on the other side because of business picking up on both ends. Bridges to nowhere don’t help anyone except the owner of the construction company pocketing the profits.

Politicizing the Market

When did purchasing something become a political act? Most especially, when did it become the primary means of political action for us? People that would never go to a protest or write their Congresswoman would die before buying a real fur coat, and always check their labels to see if their clothes were made with slave labor.

Not that I think we shouldn’t be responsible with our purchases. I just wonder if we’ve lost something, some focus, in turning our attention so much to the impact we have on the market. It’s as if we stopped believing we could affect political change, and decided the easiest way to change the world was to buy organic. It’s worked – we can buy organic everywhere now – but at the same time a lot of issues, like women’s rights, single-payer health care, child care, our crumbling infrastructure and buckling educational systems, have stalled, many not having moved at all in the last 30 years.

How did this happen?