We hate government, then ask, “Can’t government do something?”

SHARE We hate government, then ask, “Can’t government do something?”

Consumer advocate Ralph Nader called the Corvair, produced by Chevrolet in the 1960s, “unsafe at any speed.” The safety features he called for that skeptics laughed off are now standard in American cars. (AP Photo/Jeff Zelevansky)

As I pulled my car out of the driveway, a friend riding in the back seat shouted, “Wait! I don’t have my seat belt on.”

I laughed and reminded him about arguments we had 50 years ago over a book written by Ralph Nader titled, “Unsafe At Any Speed.” It recommended measures to make cars safer, including seat belts.


My friend, a car enthusiast, took the automobile industry’s side at that time that seat belts and other safety measures were unnecessary and make cars unaffordable.

“Would you even consider driving your car today if your grandchildren weren’t buckled in?” I asked.

We laughed and began discussing all of the safety features that are standard in cars today (roll bars, airbags, padded dash boards) that my friend and many other Americans once opposed, but which were mandated by the government.

I mention that because of conversations I’ve heard since United Airlines decided to have airport security drag a passenger off of one of its plans to make room for some of its employees.

“Airlines shouldn’t be allowed to overbook flights,” I’ve heard people say repeatedly, although that’s not quite what happened in the Chicago incident.

“The government should make that illegal,” I’ve heard many people say.

Some of these folks had repeatedly complained in the past about government interference in the free market. They say that government regulations are forcing corporations to move overseas, causing businesses to close and making it more difficult for Americans to find employment.

And then there’s a news report about a pharmaceutical company boosting the price of a tuberculosis drug from $500 for 30 pills to $10,800, or a company purchases the rights to an old drug that sold for $13.50 a pill and overnight jacks up the price to $750.

It’s not just the average Joe who thinks government ought to intervene, but someone as pro-business as President Donald Trump.

Trump has said the government should step in and negotiate pharmaceutical prices on behalf of the public because the big drug companies are charging U.S. citizens far more than they charge people in other countries for the same drug. That’s because those other countries have their governments negotiate prices on behalf of consumers and the U.S. does not.

I realize the federal government often fails to adequately or efficiently enforce regulations. And sometimes it gets carried away, creating so many rules that the public and businessmen find them confusing and too costly.

But almost all of us believe government regulation is necessary, even many who claim to be anti-government. Yet, there’s a constant drumbeat to cut government spending and reduce taxes that pay the people who make sure the regulations work.

My friend, who once opposed safety belts in cars, now is an advocate for government laws that require smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in homes.

After the terrorist attack of 9-11, many liberals supported government screening of passengers before boarding airplanes, the imprisonment of terrorists without a trial and increased government surveillance of civilians through passage of The Patriot Act.

Income tax reform is always popular because the public believes the government wastes their hard earned money.

But no one wants to eat diseased meat or drink water contaminated by chemicals.

Many taxpayers think its in the best interest of the country for the government to build a massive wall along the Mexican border to keep immigrants out of the United States.

A recent news report states the opioid epidemic is now killing more people than guns and car accidents in the U.S.

“Can’t the government do something?” people ask.

I think I heard many of those same people say they wanted less government and lower taxes last week.

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Email: philkadner@gmail.com

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