I know Guy Farmer and Ron Knecht well enough to acknowledge them as colleagues and respected professional friends. But they are both wrong when they take on Bo Statham’s plea to respect government and understand the Constitution as a vital, living document. The Constitution was not cast in concrete. It lives and changes with national circumstances. If it didn’t, we’d still have slavery; if it hadn’t morphed with the times, women would not have the right to vote and civil-rights laws would not have been instigated to mitigate injustices. Our path to form a “more perfect union” would have slid down a slippery slope to oblivion.
Anti-government and anti-tax sentiment in this community (and among some in Congress) has brought our community to a near dead end. Our middle class suffers; some folks are leaving our community, along with their children. A robust economic-development system, creating high-tech businesses and high-paying jobs, appears to elude us. We do not have the educated work force needed to attract and sustain good-paying careers. Carson City schools, charter schools and Western Nevada College are working hard to correct this shortcoming, but they are continually confronted with inadequate budgets. This problem is exacerbated by anti-government rhetoric and the apparent disdain for government by some of our influential columnists.
Guy Farmer assails good government by suggesting the Affordable Care Act is simply a big-government attempt to take over health care. He makes the same arguments that conservatives made in the 30s, when Social Security was being debated: ”big government is inefficient and wasteful.” Perhaps it is occasionally, but not most of the time. There are about 30 million people without health insurance. Obamacare is now law, and President Obama is seeking to provide health care to all those who need it. Within a year or two, ACA will be as sacrosanct as Social Security.
Guy and Ron appear to have forgotten that they drive on government-constructed highways, fly out of government-regulated airports, eat government-protected foods, are protected by national and state armed forces, and are served by federal/state medical research. And that’s not to say anything about our comprehensive infrastructure and social support systems, most of which now need to be replaced and/or updated.
My colleagues don’t appear to realize how right Bo Statham was to remind us of what a great government we have, for all of us. It doesn’t need to be diminished by those who don’t like it.
Eugene Paslov is a board member of the Davidson Academy at the University of Nevada, Reno, and the former Nevada state superintendent of schools.