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Culture, Government, Life

How Much Government Spending?

Recently I got into a discussion with a fellow named John Fugelsang on twitter (well, I tried to get into a discussion, he and his followers tried to throw as many talking points on the thread as they can).  One in particular keeps getting favorited and re-tweeted a lot so I thought I’d explain why this particular post was of little, if any merit.

Here it is:

There are two problems with this.  First it’s not surprising that Mr. Fugelsang (or anyone else) didn’t hear anyone complaining about government spending on twitter in the lead up to invading Iraq.  Twitter wasn’t around.  It didn’t show up until 2006 and then really didn’t become start its large growth until 2009 (http://www.businessinsider.com/chart-of-the-day-new-twitter-accounts-2010-12 this page is as of 2010 so obviously the amount of twitter accounts has grown even more since then). Of course perhaps he means he didn’t hear anyone on the street complaining about it.  Well clearly he didn’t know me then.  In the lead up to the 2004 election I remember having a discussion with friends at a Logan’s Road House about how Bush was, in my words, “spending like a drunken sailor.”

Perhaps they would say, well maybe I did, but no one else did.  Well then there’s this:



These are the first few “conservative” posts I found by doing a very simple Google search.  Notice these two are before the 2004 election.  So to say that you didn’t hear us saying it before is either disingenuous or you just don’t listen.  My guess is that it’s a bit of both.

Secondly it also means you don’t really understand the conservative position at all.  It’s not that there shouldn’t be any government spending.  Without government spending there would be no government and I doubt you’d paint any arch-conservative on your list as an anarchist.  The issue is the role of government in our lives.  Who maintains roads?  Government should of course.  How about borders?  Who if not the government?  Who enforces laws?  Well of course the government (I don’t want OmniCorp sending in ED-209s to enforce the law).  National defense?  Of course that would be the government too.  So when Bush was spending on the military, while it may have been a bad idea to go in (I was never really in favor of it even if I understood the purpose of surrounding Iran) once we were there, that spending is the Federal government’s job.  I may not have picked the direction we went but at least it’s within the scope of what the state is supposed to do.  So it’s a misrepresentation to say that if someone thinks spending on cell phones for low income individuals or government intrusion into the way people purchase health care is leading us further down the socialist road should also think military spending is.  One is clearly the government’s job (military) and one is not (or at least not clearly so, it could and should be debated).

So don’t pretend you’re comparing apples to apples when we both know you’re not.  It’s like saying that if I’m for buying as many fruits and veggies for my kids to eat as they want, I have to be for buying them as much candy as they want as well.



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