A few days ago, I wrote this reply to a recent column by C. Krauthammer in the Washington Post:
I am a handicapped person. I was born handicapped as a result of an accident during my birth. I grew up in a family of conservative Republicans who taught me that I would always have to rely on myself, with no help from others. Even if I had to literally crawl up a set of stairs, or go up the path used by the garbage delivery trucks--or go an extra mile to find a curb break.
Fortunately, I did well in school. By the time I had my Master's degree, there were accommodations for disabled people at my university, thanks to federal law. When I went out into the working world, I found that my needs would be respected.
I cannot tell you how different today's world is from the world of my childhood, especially for someone like me. And it is all because--and only because--of government regulation.
Yes, the state did make me great--much greater than I would have been without its help.
This was only a simple statement of fact. On a philosophical level, I would like to add a few more comments, given below.
First, the government of the United States is elected by “We, the People.” That is in our founding document. We the people choose elected representatives. We the people rely on those representatives to work for the common defense and promote the general welfare. We the people need government to supply the big things that go beyond our personal scope.
If I were a multi-millionaire, I might possess a gracious home built on a large piece of land, with a four-mile driveway and subsidiary roads across whatever parts of the estate I wished to access, a separate area for my show horses and the grooms, or the groundskeeper and his family, or both, for example. Perhaps, if the place were remote enough, I might employ a tutor to help my young children learn reading and writing before they went to boarding school. I might even have an electrical and sewage plant on the premises. On my estate, I might consider myself perfectly self-sufficient.
But any time I would go off my estate, I would rely on public resources that support all of society. I would take a public road when I exited my gate. When I used my private jet, I would rely on a network of FAA-approved air traffic controllers. When I bought prescription medicine, I would rely on FDA approval to ensure the safety and efficacy of the drug. I would rely on “we the people” electing a government that would be a watchdog for rich and poor alike.
Even as a rich person, these are not roads, air traffic controllers or medicines that I have individually provided. These are not mine. These belong to society, my society and your society. These are ours—ours together.
Next, wealth does not protect anyone from the frailties of the human condition. Debilitating illness can strike anyone, regardless of the size of his/her purse. Government research is often the first thing comes to mind in “finding a cure” for a disease. For one example, we have Cindy McCain (definitely a rich person, definitely a Republican) working to organize public awareness and more funding for the disability of migraine headaches. One of her goals is presenting testimony before Congress. Finding a cure for a disease is part of promoting the general welfare of our country—part of our country’s founding principles.
We may not like to admit it, but none of us is invincible. All of us are subject to accident, disease, old age, or just plain bad luck. All of us, at some point, will need the help and support of others, because we are human. Sometimes the help and support can be given on an individual, personal level. But sometimes it requires a group of us working together. The biggest group of us working together? That’s the government. That’s us.