A scientific breakthrough occurred in 2003. It was the mapping of the human genome, which is creating medical advances that will touch every human on earth. The indispensable partner in this great discovery was the federal government. What did the government ask in return? You may be surprised to learn. And delighted.
Sidewalks were invented in big cities in the 1800s as a way of separating people from the filth of streets. They found a second use in the 20th century as a way of separating pedestrians from automobiles. After World War II, sidewalks declined in popularity, only to rise again in recent decades along with urban trails. Throughout, governments have been the key to pedestrian access.
Cities created public hospitals in the early 1800s as places the poor went to die. In the late 1800s, their roles changed dramatically as the practice of medicine changed. Since then, other kinds of hospitals have emerged, but large public hospitals still play essential roles as caregivers for the poor, centers for advanced trauma care, and providers of public services like poison-control centers. Let’s hope you never need the care these hospitals provide. But if you do, you can thank government for making them available.
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.
If you have never had to use an outhouse, walk ankle-deep in garbage, or endure incredible stench, you can thank local governments that created massive sewer systems, bought landfills and built incinerators, and fielded an army of sanitation workers to make our lives healthier.