On Wed, 8 Jan 1997, Frederick R. Magdoff wrote:
> Some of the postings on sanet keep repeating that the government
> just screws things up.Given the stories in the press and the preachings
> of many politicians it is not too surprising to many find people
> (including those on sanet-mg) who believe that whenever the government
> does something they screw it up. This happens not to be true, although
> there are certainly plenty of things that governments do poorly (as there
> are for private companies and charities). But the atmosphere created by
> this sentiment is being used to justify a dismantling of social programs.
> The current attempts to reduce and do away with social programs
> in the US should be of interest to those concerned with sustainable
> agriculture. If the main purpose of a humane and sustainable food system
> is not to provide a good variety of nutritious food in adequate amounts
> to all people, then what exactly is it?
> Three examples of succesful programs are given below
> 1.) The US programs to alleviate hunger were initiated because
> the private sector was not particular interested in feeding the hungry
> and these programs actually worked reasonably well to reduce poverty and
> 2.) The US social security program, including aid to disabled and
> elderly, was started precisely because the private sector did not provide
> for these people and a very high percent were stuck in poverty. It has
> been very successful and efficient in performing what it was set up to
> do. (By the way, the stories about the supposed crises in the SS system
> are unbelievable overkill in comparison to the relatively trivial nature
> of the problem - for those interested in this, there is an interesting
> article in the current issue of the New Yorker magazine).
> 3) The Canadian national health care system -with all its
> problems- is a model of efficiency and equitable distribution of
> resources - compared to the US "system" where approximately 1/3 of the
> money is used for administration and profits and where many people are
> not even covered by insurance and do not have access to adequate care.
> The military program probably takes the cake for fraud and waste.
> Somehow I haven't seen many advocates for dismantling social programs
> because they are supposedly inefficient also calling for the dismantling
> of the military!
> FRED MAGDOFF