Ehrlich fails Government 101

May 31, 2012

The problem withRobert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s column ("Debt without end?" May 27) is that he does not understand the role of government is to raise the money needed to provide the services that create and sustain a civilized society. Until people stop being born, the government of our prosperous nation should provide for the poorest among us, fund good education including supporting the arts, finance decent medical care and research into disease and health care issues, maintain police and fire departments, build good roads and other infrastructure needs, and protect our food, air, water and the rest of our environment. I can't deal with all of these huge issues as a private citizen. I pay taxes so that other people, in their professional capacities, will continuously work in these areas more effectively than I can. Because all of the buildings and services people use eventually wear out and must be repaired or rebuilt, and all people need some services as long as they are alive, government spending doesn't stop.

Cut government spending? Sure. The federal government should redistribute how it spends our money, and the best places to cut spending would be in defense and in health care — as in looking into excessive charges, tax loopholes, and stratospheric salaries for people in the health care business, instead of repeatedly trying to collect more from the elderly. Many companies also have disgraceful records on avoiding their tax responsibilities: Apple has over $1 billion in profits sequestered away in Luxembourg alone so it doesn't have to pay U.S. taxes. The for-profit world has little interest in controlling government spending when excessive spending increases their profits, and many have no interest in the long-term financial health of our country. They hide billions abroad to avoid giving back to the nation that gave them the infrastructure and the well-educated, healthy citizens that made them profitable. Shame on them.

Government struggles to carry on outside of the for-profit model, including assistance to the impoverished, maintain a healthy environment, and give everyone decent health care. These are not profit-making propositions for many businesses, but these responsibilities and many others are highly "profitable" for a civilized society, one that values life, liberty, and the freedom to pursue human happiness in all its glorious complexity.

Laurie Taylor-Mitchell, Towson

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