In 1890 the government was small, and people had lots of personal autonomy, but poverty was widespread and serious. Today, the government is huge and intrudes in every part of life, and personal liberty is much curtailed. But we beat poverty, right?
Hah hah. No. Poverty is still an urgent social issue. Fortunately, we can make things better if we just give Washington more money and power.
We spend a fortune on education every year, disproportionately far more than in 1950. The state and federal governments micromanage every aspect, supported by an enormous bureaucracy of non-teaching administrators. Parents have little say in what their children are taught; the local school board hasn’t much more; but at least our educational system is first-rate, right?
Hah hah. No. Education is a catastrophe. A number of high-school graduates are functionally illiterate and innumerate, and unqualified for any job available in the US. Of those who go to college, a fair fraction during their first year need to repeat high school classes in reading, writing, and math. Fortunately, there’s a solution: we pay higher taxes to the federal government and they send 90% of the money back to local school districts, along with the latest scientific instructions on how to teach kids to read, and the new curriculum on gay history.
Then there’s healthcare. Back in the day, many people couldn’t afford to see a doctor or have surgery, and a serious illness could easily bankrupt a middle-class family. But now government is hip deep in healthcare, and… often people can’t afford to see a doctor or have surgery; a serious illness can easily bankrupt an upper-middle-class family; and we support an enormous parasitic structure of lawyers and insurance companies. And that was before Obamacare.
Let’s try giving the federal government less money and power, and move some programs to the states. At the same time, lets send less money to the state capitol, and deal with more things down at city hall. Things may get worse, but they may anyway, and at least individuals will have more personal autonomy.