July 2, 2011 10:50AM

Deval Patrick’s Defense of Our $6 Trillion Government

In the apparent belief that the Tea Party movement and Americans’ general aversion to higher taxes are conjured out of thin air by master manipulator Grover Norquist, Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick offers this devastating riposte to Norquist’s support for limited government:

I remember sitting in the Dunster House dining hall at Harvard with Norquist when we were sophomores or juniors in college, while he explained his view of government, or lack thereof. It sounded logical — the notion that we could live independently of each other, making our own decisions in our own self‐​interest. But then who puts out the fires? Who answers the calls to 911? Who educates poor children? Who helps people with disabilities?

Good point. And we could go on. Without government, who would make shoes and ensure that they came in different sizes? Who would invent and build software programs? Who would supply us with home and automobile insurance to protect us from the risks of life? Who would feed and clothe and house us?

And then one might also wonder: Governor Patrick asks, “Who educates poor children?” in a society with limited government. Right now, government provides schooling for poor children, but all too few of them actually get educated. Check out the achievement gap for black students — in Massachusetts and elsewhere — in this Department of Education report. Perhaps Governor Patrick should make sure government is actually doing the things he worries about before he claims that a different system couldn’t do them.