Mailbag: Is less really better?

2012-10-14T09:15:00Z Mailbag: Is less really better? Corvallis Gazette Times
October 14, 2012 9:15 am

One of the ongoing themes of the right at election time is that “less government” is better. It will preserve individual liberty. They tend to identify various government projects as failures, and suggest that government functions be “run like a business.”

The first problem with this is, I’ve practically stared the ink off of my world atlas. And I can find no country with a democratic form of government and a viable middle class with less government.

The second problem I have with this is, “If government is going to enter into the business world, shouldn’t it be for something which has a chance of benefiting the majority, not just more tax breaks for wealthy oil executives?” They’ve already shown us they can make record-breaking profits. The solar company that President Obama backed may have gone broke. But, at least it was money spent on new technology, which might eventually break our dependence on fossil fuel.

They tend to only mention projects that they view as failures. What about the hundreds of successes? Projects that had no promise of short-term profits? Or were too big for the private sector to tackle? Does anybody think NASA made a profit? Does that mean that the scientific and technological advances were not worth achieving? Would anybody erase the BPA, the TVA, the REA, FHA, Genny May, Freddy Mac, Sally May, VA, FDIC, the interstate freeway system, the public school system, or dozens of other government programs? All of these were enormously successful, at least until the right started preaching deregulation and privatization.

The biggest threat to individual liberty in my memory was a thing called the Patriot Act, followed closely by the Citizens United ruling. Both were supported by the right.

Does that mean that there is no such thing as too much government? Absolutely not! It’s none of the government’s business what two consenting adults do behind closed doors. Or, what a woman chooses to do with her body. The government that infringes upon my second amendment rights is just as wrong as the one that denies freedom of speech or freedom of the press.

Frank W. Lathen


(Oct. 11)

Copyright 2015 Corvallis Gazette Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(4) Comments

  1. TaxMaverick
    Report Abuse
    TaxMaverick - October 14, 2012 9:14 pm
    Hi Frank,

    As a wealthy oil executive devoted to finding tax breaks, I'm not worried about you changing anything. Your choice at election time is Romney changing nothing, or Obama changing nothing.

    Do you remember Obama's 2008 talk of stopping offshore tax avoidance? It's 2012. There have not been any material changes to the Internal Revenue Code.

    Regarding Citizens United: Companies and unions are prohibited from making direct contributions to candidates. Only individuals are allowed to make direct contributions, up to $2,500 per person. Companies and unions may finance commercials, movies and so on that help a candidate indirectly. But, there are a lot of restrictions of this. Republican groups made a good argument Fahrenheit 9/11 should not be released because it violates these company-finance restrictions. This eventually lead to the free-speech ruling in Citizens United.

    There is a saying: If you have two Jews, you have three organizations. They are the best-networked group of individuals making $2,500 contributions. They have more power if corporations and unions are kept out of campaign finance. This is the reason they lobby against Citizens United.

    Jews control the media in this country. So, they are putting out stories characterizing Citizens United as the cause of political corruption. But, buying government policy existed before the 2010 Citizens United ruling. It won't be lessened if Citizens United is reversed. This propaganda is only a power play between competing buyers of government policy.

    (There is even a movie devoted to bashing Citizens United: The Campaign.)

    I don't mean to vilify the Jews. I wish I could do what they do. Instead of "Get the Muslims!," "Get the Prohibitionist!" would be the message in heavy rotation every time you turn on the TV.

    For countries with less government and a viable middle class, see Singapore, Hong Kong (especially before Mainland China took over), and Dubai.

    I like your letter. I only disagree with a couple points.
  2. curious one
    Report Abuse
    curious one - October 14, 2012 8:06 pm
    Good letter. As to other countries and government. There are many who have much better health care systems for sure. If you talk to those in countries with the "Medicare" for all type systems, they seem very happy with it.

    As to government organizations: you might want to take them one by one to complain properly. I for one don't want to lose the ag dept and others who inspect our grocery stores and restaurants. We just had a slip through the crack problem with the compounding pharmacy (which isn't inspected as a pharma co. is), and people have died, more probably will, and over 200 are very ill.

    We want roads, clean air and water, safety, court systems, workers safety laws, libraries, public schools, safe public transportation, safe cars we buy, etc., etc., etc. Therefore, we need a society banded together (government) to provide those things. I can think of maybe a hundred things we take for a right every day, that the government either provides or insures we have or are protected from.

    Make your own list, start with walking out your door in the morning to go to work - airplane safety (they aren't falling on your head), stopsign at the corner, and the list just gets started.
  3. andyg
    Report Abuse
    andyg - October 14, 2012 5:49 pm
    RF, read George Will's column today for an example of how government is supposed to work--by breaking up banks that are "too big to fail" and preventing them from getting that big. The problem with government is not that these agencies exist to protect consumer and other business' rights, it's that agencies can be "captured" by the entities they're supposed to regulate, or become emasculated by the politicians trying to provide those entities unfair advantage.

    The feds got into education because some states were not educating some of their citizens to even a basic standard. Somebody needed to set the bar.
  4. Responsibility First
    Report Abuse
    Responsibility First - October 14, 2012 1:11 pm
    The fact that you can find no democratic country with a viable middle class and less government is not a comfort to me. I take pride in my country and expect her to strive to be a model for the rest of the world. A civilized country can expect some of its citizens to give aid and comfort to others without expecting the government to provide all.

    Have you seen the current list of federal agencies? It's mind boggling. I can't even imagine what some of them are. See
    I'm guessing that some of these agencies were set up as short term fixes to a specific problem and were never disbanded.

    Let's not put Freddie Mac in the list of successes, OK? And I would rather that public education be left to the states and have the Department of Education disbanded. I could go on and on :)

    New York is beginning to show us how Big Brother run amok works. Do you really think that people who are buying large soft drinks are going to be deterred from buying them in another form?
Add Comment
You must Login to comment.

Click here to get an account it's free and quick

where am i logo
50 Objects

Follow Us!

Events Calendar

Login or register to add your events to the calendar! Add event



Which of these movies, releasing in May, are you most looking forward to seeing?

View Results



Share Your Photos

Staff Photos

Receive Email Updates

Quick notification of big news. Delivered when news breaks (used sparingly).

Top headlines from delivered to you daily.

Get updates about the Beaver sports. Delivered 3 times a week.