You know, I always cringed when I heard Ronald Reagan’s small government mantra, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”
Reagan was referring to the belief (often held by conservative voters in the United States), that the government, in general, is incredibly inefficient in everything they do. Sometimes to such a degree that their attempts to help end up actively harming instead. It was a cynical call out to his base, red meat in today’s parlance, not taking into account all the good things government and government programs (are you still on Medicare and cashing those Social Security payments, Red-Staters? Yes, I’m talking to you!)
As E.J. Dionne wrote last year in The Washington Post, “…In truth, the whole antigovernment thing is fundamentally fraudulent. So is the conservative claim to believe passionately in states’ rights and local authority. In practice, conservatives regularly vote for lots of government — so long as it serves the interests they represent.”
In that column, Dionne also reminded readers that Reagan had another famous line about big government, “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”
Guess what? With Trump and his “Gang That Can’t Shoot Straight,” I finally can get behind something Saint Ronald said.
The current “crisis,” the Coronavirus Pandemic, is fueling all kinds of examples that “government” (or at least Trump’s government) is the problem.
Politico published an article today headlined, “USDA let millions of pounds of food rot while food-bank demand soared.” The sub-head cogently sums up the piece, “State officials and growers say Trump’s Agriculture Department has been woefully slow to respond to farm crisis caused by coronavirus.”
Here’s a link to the Politico article so you can read it and weep. (https://www.politico.com/news/2020/04/26/food-banks-coronavirus-agriculture-usda-207215)
“Tens of millions of pounds of American-grown produce is rotting in fields as food banks across the country scramble to meet a massive surge in demand, a two-pronged disaster that has deprived farmers of billions of dollars in revenue while millions of newly jobless Americans struggle to feed their families.
“While other federal agencies quickly adapted their programs to the coronavirus crisis, the Agriculture Department took more than a month to make its first significant move to buy up surplus fruits and vegetables — despite repeated entreaties.“
The Agriculture Department said it has moved expeditiously to respond to the crisis. And here’s Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue’s response to Politico:
“USDA is committed to maximizing our services and flexibilities to ensure children and others who need food can get it during this coronavirus epidemic,” Secretary Sonny Perdue said in a statement to POLITICO. “This is a challenging time for many Americans, but it is reassuring to see President Trump and our fellow Americans stepping up to the challenges facing us to make sure kids and those facing hunger are fed.”
Allow me, if you will, to parse Perdue’s statement:
“Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Yadda, yadda, yadda. And may I say, thank you Mr. President for your outstanding leadership during this national emergency. I don’t know how we’d get through this crisis without your incredible direction and guidance.“
Do you think the other Perdue, Frank, would have done a better job?