Sunday, October 31, 2010

Big government

In today's print and on network news, we've read and heard unappreciative bellyaching from Tea Partiers and Republicans, as well as other rightfully concerned citizens, about "big government" taking over "this'n that". Very soon my daughter will graduate Shepherd University, thanks to the Promise Scholarship, via "big government". Thank you, West Virginia.

Library research and googling allowed me to rediscover some of what "this'n that" was, only 100 years ago.

In 1910 our nation was relatively prosperous. No national debt, big middle class, and moms stayed home to raise the kids. Back then (according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention), for every 1,000 live births, 6-9 mothers died, and 100 infants died before age one. From 1915-1997 infant mortality dropped to 7.2 per 100,000 live births, and from 1900-1997 the maternal mortality rate declined almost 99% to 7.7 deaths per 100,000 live births. Reducing these morbid mortalities, by infrastructurally improving environments and living conditions (e.g. sewage removal, safe drinking water, various urban and rural civic projects, etc.), as well as by subsidizing (with taxes) pediatric and obstetric knowledge and practices, were gifts to society thankfully made by our "big government". Wall Street wouldn't've done it.

America has historically gotten good deals from big government. Many of us would not likely be here at all without the infrastructural effects of big government. Our grandparents and parents might have died at childbirth, or as infants themselves. Or, if our ancestors had made it past that first hard year, they probably would not have lived very long. The average life expectancy 100 years ago was about 50. Today it's close to 80.

Big government's civic duties continue to serve us. Women didn't have the vote 100 years ago, and office and professional work for the majority of women was impossible or extremely rare. Now, more than half of all medical students in this country are women.

And here's where it comes home to roost: females now play basketball, volleyball, softball, soccer, and track in high school and college, thanks to big government's "Title IX" mandating equal funding for boys' and girls' sports in 1972. Before that a few girls could be cheerleaders, but that was about all. Pre-1972 graduates, remember that?

Parents, the next time you hear someone smashing “big government” at a basketball, volleyball, softball, track, soccer event or anywhere, watching your daughter, grand-daughter, niece, or neighbor girl rack up points, remember that if it weren't for big government, the girls would be dancing around in their short little skirts cheering the boys on, their talents being unfairly wasted. They've proven they're capable of so much more, thanks to big government. How cool is that?

--Bill Arnold

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