Public education was based on three tenets: that every child should be in school until adolescence, that schools should be free to attend, and that government should pay for them through taxes. And behind the tenets was the belief that our political and economic systems depended on citizens who could read and write. The results have been historic, as literacy has spread today to nearly every adult. For this monumental achievement, you can thank government.
State and federal courts are the bulwark of our freedoms, and the belief in public trials before our peers presided over by impartial judges runs deep in our history. But the courts are also essential to business as enforcers of contracts and defenders of intellectual, financial, and physical property rights. We have never expected anyone but government to play these roles, and for our judicial system you can thank government.
If you’ve ever needed a police officer in an emergency or could imagine needing one in the future, you can thank government for making her available, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The creation of dependable clean water systems is one of our greatest and least recognized urban accomplishments. Unrecognized, that is, unless something goes terribly wrong. But such incidents are exceedingly rare, and hundreds of millions of Americans can trust the safety of their drinking water. For this, we can thank government.
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.