Social Security was a “simple and elegant” solution to the Great Depression, a system of direct relief for elderly people that felt like a pension and was financed by workers and their employers. It has gone on to become the federal government’s most popular program with young and old alike, and the most effective anti-poverty program in American history. If you are one of Social Security’s 68 million recipients—or hope to be as you get older—you can thank government for it.
If you’ve never had tuberculosis, smallpox, or polio, if you live in a healthier environment than your great-grandparents could ever have imagined, if you have reasonable hopes for vaccines for AIDS and Covid-19, you can thank government for these things.
State and national parks drew more than one billion visitors in 2019. If you are one who loves these places of extraordinary natural beauty, you can thank government for preserving them and making them accessible.
In 1934, the federal government replaced a failed system of home finance, which featured short-term loans, with long-term mortgages backed by federal loan guarantees. If you have a 15- 20- or 30-year mortgage, you can thank the federal government for it.