File photo | Credit: Sean Rayford file photo

A reader from Hartsville complains a recent column on improving common good was little more than a promotional campaign that is “leftist, liberalistic, socialistic.”

“It seems most of your writing is in favor of the government taking care of people that (sic) won’t take care of themselves,” wrote Marshall Brand of Hartsville. His prescription for people to stay out of poverty: “Stay in school. Work hard at a job. Don’t have kids. Don’t drink. Don’t do drugs. Don’t join a gang. Don’t break the law.”


Ahh, only if it were only so simple. But it’s not. People are complex. Furthermore, those solutions are based on a moral code rooted in individualism and don’t take into account how diverse people actually live in interconnected communities. 

Government’s role isn’t to “take care of people.” Rather, government works for us to create opportunities, provide protection, promote solutions to support the common good, and help us live and work at a standard of living that’s beyond subsistence farming.

Take roads. Without the government, would we have a robust system of roads and bridges that allow trucks to transport goods throughout the nation to keep our economy humming? Can you imagine such an economic engine without the infrastructure support of the government?  It wouldn’t be there.

Without our government, 50 million seniors wouldn’t have Social Security or Medicare to help them pay bills and get health care.  Without the government:

  • There wouldn’t be national parks.
  • Public education wouldn’t be guaranteed.
  • College loans wouldn’t be widely available, which would keep average Americans from having the chance to get more education.
  • Bank deposits wouldn’t be guaranteed and safe, and any losses due to ATM theft wouldn’t be limited.
  • Intellectual property wouldn’t be protected through copyright, trademark and patent laws, which would be a drain on the economy.
  • The nation’s supply of meat wouldn’t have regulated inspections, making it potentially unsafe.
  • Lots of kids wouldn’t get school lunches and wouldn’t learn as much as they could.  Hungry kids have a tougher time learning, as we learned 50 years ago in the late Sen. Fritz Hollings’ book, The Case Against Hunger.
  • Our rivers and air wouldn’t be as clean as they are today and, in turn, our fisheries would be less productive and people would have more respiratory issues.
  • The nation’s infrastructure — roads, bridges, dams, pipelines, power grids, ports, airports and more — would be much less developed and organized, hampering the flow of commerce and the country’s ability to be a world power.
  • We’d have to rely on private industry to vet new medicines, which could lead to all sorts of stuff on shelves that could do more harm than good.
  • The system for controlling traffic in the nation’s airways would likely be disjointed and less safe.
  • Drinking water wouldn’t be as safe because regulations wouldn’t be consistent. 
  • Borders would be insecure or, at best, less protected than now.
  • You’d get way more spam phone calls.
  • We would have less protection against diseases.  Federal efforts speed private-sector development of vaccines.  Military doctors eliminated diseases like typhoid and yellow fever, according to a list by the Securities and Exchange Commission  on ways that government works. 

The list goes on and on. The point is that government of the people, by the people and for the people is working, thanks to committed Republicans, Democrats and independents. Can it do better? Absolutely. (And that’s what we often write about.)

We need vigorous debate in our country to make sure we get the best solutions possible. Not everyone will be happy with the results. 

But if you hate our government and constantly tear it down, you’re not helping things. You’re part of the problem. A stronger America depends on an organized, effective and efficient governmental system operated by sane people for the common good. Anything less denigrates us all.

Andy Brack is publisher of Charleston City Paper. Have a comment? Send to: