Stop hating government

Frank Yonkof

For weeks, there has been a huge political scandal brewing in my hometown.

Not surprisingly, the small village of about 2,000 people — who are mostly conservative Republicans — is upset with the government, but in a totally different way than I expected.

Back in November, the townspeople elected a new mayor right after a big trucking company pulled out of the village, leaving us without our major source of tax revenue.

As soon as the new mayor came into office, she fired the parks supervisor and an office secretary in order to get the village’s finances in order.

Now, many of the townspeople are furious. They have been writing letters to the local newspaper for weeks accusing the new mayor of awful stuff, including bragging about her family’s income among other personal things (she makes $12,000 a year for being mayor, in case you were wondering).

These critics are mainly upset because of the lost jobs, and I suspect they are close friends of the people who were laid off.

Being one of only a handful of Democrats in my town, I can’t help but smile. Many of the townspeople are conservative and are quick to say the government should shrink down and stay out of our lives.

But when it comes to local government, apparently it’s a different story. I guess smaller government is not as fun when someone you know loses his or her job.

I’m almost tempted to write to the newspaper and remind everyone that conservatives prefer smaller government, so the new mayor is actually doing what her constituents want. After all, it seems as though everyone in America wants smaller government these days.

When the huge blizzard hit our nation’s capital a few weeks back, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) called the government shutdown a “dream.”

“The best thing is we’re not passing any legislation, which ultimately will save the government a lot of money.”

I suppose not doing his job has an upside for the senator, but what he failed to mention was that the shutdown cost us $100 million per day in lost productivity.

Even so, many people in America today share this logic. A recent Washington Post/ABC news poll found that 58 percent of Americans favor a smaller government.

One of the things I find most appealing about America is that our federal government is dependable. As Americans, we can be assured that the government will keep functioning even amid a major disaster or attack.

When a new president is elected, we know there will be a peaceful change of power, and that the new leader will be able to finish his or her term without the worry of a coup. The thing that makes America such a great country is that our government is strong and yet we still enjoy more freedoms than most everyone on earth.

I would never trade our political stability for smaller government. As we’ve seen throughout the past year, people are crazy. Heck, some guy just flew a plane into an office building last week because he was allegedly upset with the IRS.

And yet, these are the same people who want government out of their way? I think I speak for many Americans when I say we would rather have the higher authority in place instead of the anarchy of the “every man for himself” mentality.

What amazes me about our federal government is how incredibly efficient they are, given the monumental task they have ahead of them. Considering the United States is the third largest nation in the world in terms of population and size, one would only imagine nothing would get done.

I mean, when a country like Haiti (which is approximately the size of Maryland) can’t even provide basic security for its people, it’s an absolute miracle that our federal government gets anything accomplished.

When I had to compile gas price averages from the last decade for our high school paper and Google wasn’t being kind, I e-mailed the Energy Information Administration and quickly received a reply. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would hear back even within a year, but that is one popular misconception about our system.

I am even going as far as to say that I am amazed with how well of a job Congress does. After all, I challenge anyone to gather 534 of your closest friends and come up with a way to spend a million dollars. And yet, Congress is able to agree and coordinate how our tax dollars are spent (whether you agree with what they spent it on is another debate).

People today are quick to pounce on government for being too large and too restrictive, and many feel it is finally getting out of control. Unfortunately, they never stop to appreciate all of the little services we take for granted.

There is a reason America is the greatest nation in the world, and our government and political system have a lot to do with that. My advice to all the government haters is this: Stop complaining and thank God you live here.

Frank Yonkof is a sophomore newspaper journalism major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected]