It’s a small but important way state and local governments make your life safer: They inspect elevators. Actually, though, this is not a small task because there are 900,000 elevators in America, making them the nation’s most common form of public conveyance. A century ago, when governments got into the business of inspecting them, elevators had frequent and horrifying accidents. They don’t now, and you can give some of the credit to the governments that inspect them.
Cities began building playgrounds in the late 1800s and early 1900s as a way of getting young children out of traffic and older ones away from delinquency. In time, the physical spaces were joined by recreation programs organized by nonprofit organizations. Today, it’s not only children who use America’s publicly owned playgrounds, athletic fields, parks, and streams. Tens of millions of adults do, too. And for our access to inexpensive recreation, we 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.
Only governments can provide comprehensive solutions to common problems, solutions that combine trained and equipped personnel, public infrastructure, and regulation. Cities have done this with fire safety and, as a result, the risk of death or homelessness by fire has been reduced to a fraction of what it was in your great-grandparents’ days. For this, you can thank government.