Defending government is easier today

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The one thing about current political debate or any kind of debate is the need for “talking points”. These are buzzwords or short phrases that quickly make a point and say more than the number of words used. Usually the person or group who come up with the quickest talking points can frame the debate. It is kind of like a gun fight – the quickest draw wins. Some of my conservative friends have told me during the current health care reform debate that “Obamcare is socialized medicine” or “Medicare is clogged with waste and fraud”. I needed some place to go to rebut some of the classic “government is bad” arguments from the right and I think I found it.

Some years ago on an e-mail list I use to be on, a guy came on spouting Libertarian arguments hard and fast. Many times I didn’t have a quick way of refuting the classic arguments even though I knew he was wrong. Then I found the A Non-Libertarian FAQ which allowed me in some cases to cut and paste answers to his arguments like “Social Contract? I never signed no steenking social contract. ” etc….

With the right media bias currently, the political arguments today get framed by conservative talking heads with little to no counter arguments from people on the left side of the spectrum. Most times the host – like David Gregory of Meet the Press – just lets the conservative spew their talking points like it was a press conference rather than a political show.

I needed a place that had some good rebuttals I could use when I had my own debates with friends who like to parrot talk radio.

Government is Good is recent addition to my bookmarks as it offers a quick way to answer the arguments from the right about how bad government is. For example:

When the Republicans took over Congress in the mid-1990s, one of their first priorities was to “reform welfare” along these lines. In a landmark 1996 bill, welfare was declared to be no longer an entitlement, and strict time limits and work requirements were imposed on recipients – all designed to discourage people from staying on welfare and forcing them onto the job market. This legislation has come to be celebrated by conservatives as one of the most successful policies coming out of that period. They point out that between 1996 and 2003, the number of people on the welfare rolls dropped by over 60%.

This is pretty impressive. But unfortunately, the effect of this reduction of the welfare rolls on the poverty level was not what Republicans had predicted. If welfare was actually a major cause of persistent poverty, then we should have also seen a dramatic decrease in poverty as millions of people were forced off welfare and onto the job market. But this is precisely what did not happen. The poverty rate did not fall by 60% or 50%. Not even by 40% or 30%. Not by 20%, nor even by 10%. It fell by a measly 8% — from 13.7% to 12.5% from 1996 to 2003.

How can this be explained? It is simple. Conservatives were wrong about poverty being largely caused by government welfare programs. First, they ignored the fact that most poor people aren’t even on welfare – and that many of them work already. Second, as many scholars of poverty have pointed out, the major causes of poverty in this country are mostly in the economic system. Most people are poor for two reasons: (1) there is a chronic lack of jobs, and (2) many low-level jobs pay wages below the poverty level.

Why Government Becomes the Scapegoat

So if you are looking for some backup in your own debates with people who claim government is bad for us then check out the website.


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