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Kevin Buck: We are all in this together

Posted: June 25, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: June 25, 2013 2:00 a.m.

There are countless things I do not understand about Republicans and their approach to public policy, but their fear and loathing of big government and "socialism" is near the top of the list.

What they are calling socialism is just government doing the job it was created to do.

Political posturing and propaganda aside, it is corporate America, led by Wall Street, that most influences our politicians. They can be accused of many things, but advocating a socialist takeover of the economy is not one of them.

Our elected representatives are dyed-in-the-wool capitalists, millionaires always looking for more.

So what is it that bothers conservatives so much about government and governing? It has been my experience that we get quite an excellent deal by pooling our resources and the government using them for the common good of all Americans.

Every day we drive on roads built and maintained by our tax dollars. Those roads are regulated by laws created by governments to keep us safe and alive.

Our streets and cities are patrolled by law enforcement officers, also paid with tax dollars. Their job is to protect and serve the public.

Ditto for firefighters and all first-responders; they are our government at work for us.

State, local and federal governments provide us with parks, trails, public beaches and campgrounds. The federal government is the steward of wilderness areas that have been enjoyed for generations and will be for generations to come.

My children grew up camping in state parks and national forests. They have fished in rivers stocked by the state, hiked on trails maintained by the Forest Service and viewed the natural wonders of our national parks.

Conservatives may whine and grumble about government, but it is woven into every aspect of our lives. Southern California is a desert; millions of citizens would not call it home if it were not for the local, state and federal projects that bring us our water.

William Mulholland and the city of Los Angeles took the water from the Owens Valley and built an aqueduct to slake the thirst of a growing city. The federal government built dams on the Colorado River that created recreational meccas for the public and deliver water and power to the Western states.

The California State Water Project brings water from Northern to Southern California, irrigating the vast agricultural fields in the San Joaquin Valley along the way. All of this was organized by governments and paid for by tax dollars.

A free, public education is one of the greatest benefits our country provides its citizens. Public school teachers and administrators work tirelessly for our children, funded by tax dollars and governed by locally elected school boards.

My three children began their schooling in Mommy & Me classes provided by the city’s Parks and Recreation Department. They attended public elementary, junior high and high schools and received first-class educations.

My daughters both attended public universities and are now responsible, tax-paying citizens, well along in their respective careers.

My son will soon be discharged from the Marine Corps and will be attending a public university as well; his college education will be financed by our tax dollars, a much-deserved benefit for his five years of service to the country.

Which reminds me; government also provides for our common defense, fielding a military second to none in the world.

Sadly, the Republican partisans in Congress are dragging the government to a standstill by refusing any compromise, attacking teachers and public education, defunding programs that help the poorest and weakest citizens and holding job creation and the economy hostage for political ransom.

Partisan gerrymandering has tempered the political price for obstruction in the House, but the tea party nihilists have already cost the Republican Party the Senate majority and the White House twice.

However, the real price is being paid by the American people, who can no longer count on the federal government to legislate for the common good, and that is a shameful legacy.

Government is not perfect — after all it is presided over and run by humans (and the Peter Principle is still in effect).

However, it is still the best institution to accomplish the great things that individuals alone cannot. Politics cannot change that, only disrupt it.

Kevin Buck is a Santa Clarita resident. "Democratic Voices" runs Tuesdays in The Signal and rotates among several SCV Democrats.


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