Joel Berg’s thoughtful analysis of Paul Ryan’s latest budget proposal included a point that stuck in my craw like sand:
Myth #4: States fight major national problems such as poverty more effectively than the federal government.
Apparently Ryan’s parents or grandparents failed to tell him about what happened during the Great Depression. My father remembered it vividly and wrote:
The economic destruction of the first world I hoped to grow up in is clear in my mind. The concern it brought to my childhood home was of huge proportions, and I can still hear my father, closeted with mother in their bedroom at night, crying aloud “What am I going to do?” and the deeply concerned voice of my mother reassuring him “God will provide a way”. – Indeed, in the passage of time, a way developed and, if it was not quite the way they would have liked it, was a way to make a living and keep the family together and educate me – not a bad deal for those horrid days. I was there, and the churches could not help, for their members were as bad off as any. The state could not print money and was flat broke as well.
He did not add that his cousin, Bess Odil, went to work for the state after the 1932 election. For a time, she was paid in vouchers. The state really WAS broke.
Now, what Tennessean would trust Governor Haslam and the legislature to use federal grants for our welfare? We’ve already seen the Governor offer one of our largest state properties outright to Sears. Then who can forget that, in addition to refusing to expand Medicaid, he has sabotaged the state’s own federally-supported Medicaid program?
Joel Berg responds:”If the federal government is truly as evil and ineffective as the right claims, why do even the most right-wing elected officials in the most right-wing states immediately demand that the federal government rush in to respond to local tornadoes or chemical plant explosions?” His Reality #4 nails it.
Reality 4: The federal government is often more responsive, quicker and more capable – and less corrupt — than state and local governments.
The federal government simply performs functions the state cannot. So it was in 1932 and has been ever since, and we forget this at our peril.