Dick Dahl is hosting Listening Sessions on the second and fourth Saturdays of each month at 3:00 p.m. for an hour.

These open listening sessions are an outreach effort to hear the views that you and others have on a series of relevant issues facing our society. This effort is endorsed by the Winona County DFL but is by no means confined to its members.
These sessions are a work in progress and adjustments may be made as they proceed.

The topic for February 27 is Government in our lives—Pro’s and Con’s. The statement below may stimulate some thoughts about this topic.

Pros and Cons of Government

The purposes of our nation’s Constitution are “to form a more perfect union and establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity….”

Nevertheless, at the local, state and federal level, conflict results repeatedly over the role of government. Ronald Reagan said that Government was the problem. Our nation began when the British colonies in North America rebelled over the imposition of taxes by the government in England, especially when they had no say over them.

Taxes, regulations, and government control over guns are often issues that Republicans resist. Currently governmental requirements to limit the spread of the Covid virus are resisted by many as infringements on personal freedom and measures that harm business and the economy. Yet Republicans also often advocate for regulations--such as government control over (a woman’s right to an) abortion. They support huge government expenditures on Defense that require huge amounts of tax money.

Democrats, in turn, seek regulations to protect the environment (clean water and air), to limit fossil fuel emissions that contribute to climate change. They advocate for national parks free of commercial development for private profit. They support healthcare for all, welfare for the needy, and unionization to protect workers. Yet bureaucracy can get out of hand and result in inefficiency.

The policy differences referred to in the above two paragraphs often focus on issues of freedom, control over one’s real or perceived rights (whether over one’s body or one’s guns or money), as well as a sense of our shared responsibility for others, especially the disadvantaged.

When Hurricane Katrina devastated the gulf coast, we saw the disastrous effects of the government-run FEMA program led by incompetent officials. Sadly we experienced incompetent leadership again last year as the Covid crisis spread throughout our country. Clearly government requires competent elected and appointed officials. It requires the efficient and honest use of public funds. It requires that the public is treated with respect and service by government officials. When these qualities—competence, efficiency, honesty and respect for the public—are lacking, government fails and loses the support of the people it exists to serve.

As the Biden administration seeks passage of its $1.9 trillion America Rescue Plan, what are your thoughts about and experiences of government


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