For two campaign cycles, Neo-conservatives, Libertarians, Tea Partiers, and right-wing Republicans have preached SMALL GOVERNMENT to the people. They've attributed big government to the enormous deficit, therefore small government is the answer. They've claimed government services do nothing but create a nanny state of entitled citizens who expect the government to constantly come to their aid, therefore small government and reduced services is the answer. They've argued small government creates jobs, provides better health care, protects the lives of the unborn, sanctifies same-gender marriage, lowers gas prices, protects people's right to carry guns, and a whole host of other brilliant sound bites readily available in any average Sarah Palin speech. Unfortunately, their arguments and ideas arise from the depths of faulty mythology and the keystone events of the week prove it beyond a shadow of a doubt.
Prior to visiting the aforementioned events, take a look at life on earth for just a moment. On earth, there are two basic forms of life at the root level. There are unicellular life forms: all of the bacteria, many of the protists (amoebas, ciliates, sporozoans, golden algae, euglenazoans, water molds, etc.), and many forms of algae. Then there are the multicellular life forms: true plants, animals, and fungi. Both strategies of life exist in harmony on the planet. There are strengths and weaknesses to both. The biggest weakness to the unicellular strategy is that the only way the organism can become more sophisticated is to evolve internal structures to take on specialized jobs. This is the primary reason we do not see incredibly advanced organismal behavior from amoebas. At some point in time, when cells started living in clusters or colonies, specialization of cells became possible. One group in the cluster could depend on another for certain things and vice-versa. Trading of resources became possible.
The individual cells in the large organism each on its own would be powerless to survive but working together in the larger organism created something far more capable of survival. Interestingly enough, the prevailing hypotheses for the success of human civilization promote the notion that it was the coming together in city-states by human beings that allowed certain civilizations to advance well beyond their counterparts of wandering hunter gatherers. Just as in the case of a multicellular organism where cells evolve to become specialized to accomplish only a small number of tasks exceptionally well, a city group of people also succeeds better, longer, more efficiently, and more effectively with the specialization of the people to be excellent at a small number of jobs. A single family living out on the prairie, growing its own food, raising its own cattle, and surviving the elements cannot achieve the same things as a group of families all sharing the various burdens and utilizing their expertise to share the results of their labors in a fruitful and beneficial exchange. What allows for the extraordinary function of a multicellular organism is a central nervous system the most advanced of which we know on the face of the earth is that of the human brain. This amazing control structure coordinates nearly every aspect of the function of the entire body of cells in a human being. Likewise, it is the central government of a highly complex civilization of human beings that coordinates all functions of that civilization. Nobody would ever say that a smaller brain makes for a better human being, or would they? This is an interesting sidebar comment, but when the Glenn Becks and Rush Limbaughs bash the educated folks in our nation, are they, in effect, subscribing to this philosophy?
Nobody would ever say that a smaller brain makes for a better human being, or would they?
In the past week, tornados on a heretofore nearly untold level bombarded the southeastern United States, fired raged across the entire state of Texas, flooding of the nation's most vital river caused chaos throughout the midwest, and then a small team of highly trained military operatives located and killed the most wanted man on earth, Osama Bin Laden. What do all of these things have in common? First and foremost, they serve as examples of the importance of big government. A nation of states with huge brains coordinating the local, state, and national resources is far better equipped and trained to deal with any and all threats. The collective pool of talent can be distributed. Individuals can be highly trained for incredibly specific operations. Ironically, the very same people, Texas Governor Rick Perry comes to mind, who were preaching a year ago about the horrors of big government was bashing the nation and the President for not sending him sufficient aid to combat the fires – an irony that was not lost on the hundreds of average citizens who commented on line on the CNN story. One thing is for certain, you cannot have it both ways. You cannot want the benefits of a large, organized civilization but want to live in your little house on the prairie. You cannot revile taxes, but think you should get your unemployment, your social security, and your government assistance when you lose your job, retire after the risky stock market has wiped out your pension, and you get paralyzed in a car accident.
There are pluses and minuses to unicellular versus multicellular life to be sure. To this date, an amoeba has never been able to send aid to a grief stricken cousin three petrie dishes away. It's time to stop bashing big government and, instead, bash the greed and waste that fuel the excesses that ruin the benefits of big government.