Guy W. Farmer: The role of government in our lives

I think most of us agree that the weak economy will be the main issue in November's general election, when we'll have to choose between President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. But I think there's another very important issue - the ever-expanding role of federal and local governments in our daily lives.

If you believe in a cradle-to-grave welfare state and think government should provide you with "free" (taxpayer-funded) stuff, you'll probably vote for our "progressive" president; however, if you believe in free-market capitalism and less government, you'll probably vote for the conservative Romney. If you're a fan of Dr. Eugene Paslov's columns in the Nevada Appeal, chances are that you're an Obama voter, but if you prefer columns by Chuck Muth and/or Bob Thomas, you're a Romney voter.

Charles Krauthammer, the Washington Post's Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist, recently wrote an incisive column about the choice voters will face in November. He led off with a controversial Obama quote: "If you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen." Krauthammer asked, "And who might that 'somebody else' be?" Obama's response: Government.

But Krauthammer doesn't agree, and neither do I.

"The most formative, most important influence on the individual is not government," Krauthammer wrote. "It is civil society ... family, neighborhood, church, Rotary Club, PTA, the voluntary associations that Tocqueville understood to be the genius of America and the source of its energy and its freedom."

"The greatest threat to a robust, autonomous civil society is the ever-growing Leviathan (huge) State," the columnist added, noting that Obama believes the state to be "the font of entrepreneurial success." Tell that to my friend Bob Thomas, who built his own highly successful business from scratch with little or no help from the government.

Krauthammer uses a fictitious character, "Julia," to illustrate his point about Big Government. He writes that she is "swaddled and subsidized throughout her life by an all-giving government of bottomless pockets" that provides "preschool classes and cut-rate college loans, birth control and maternity care, business loans and retirement," not to mention all-day kindergarten and "free" health care. That taxpayer-subsidized utopia might be possible in the best of times, but not when governments are going broke.

Just ask our bankrupt neighbors over in Stockton or Vallejo, Calif., how well their free-spending policies turned out for them. In fact, one of the principal architects of the Stockton bankruptcy, Mark Lewis, was an early - and very vocal - promoter of the so-called City Center (Nugget) Project here in Carson. Lewis, who was fired as Stockton city manager, is now "managing" Chowchilla, Calif. Draw your own conclusions.

Our city fathers, faced with a $3.6 million budget deficit, want to raise taxes and saddle us with more than $28 million worth of bonded indebtedness to finance a big new library that will allegedly "save" downtown Carson City. An expensive downtown project didn't save Stockton, and a similar project won't save Carson. Let's send that message to city supervisors by voting against the Nugget Project on Nov. 6.

• Guy W. Farmer of Carson City is the Nevada Appeal's senior political columnist.


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