Talkin' trash to the garbage around me.

07 May, 2007

And when it's actually drowned?

The WaPo does its homework and begins to connect the dots between the series of institutional failures that led to the Virginia Tech shootings.

I've had a hard time knowing exactly what to say to people who believe in Small Government as some sort of Good unto Itself. You tell them about the homeless gathering for morning coffee in the park, or the family living in the pick-up camper behind the church downtown, or the senior citizen spanging at the University. You tell of the relative with a disability who wants to work (well... kind of) but the social agency responsible for placing her is underfunded and not staffed by the most competent people in the world. But those who want to drown government in the bathtub either never see it, floating from one sanitized conclave to the next, or don't think it's their problem. Why should their tax dollars be spent on "someone else?" Someone else who probably doesn't even have a job!

Or maybe someone else is a disturbed college student...

That's not to say a well-funded system of social services, staffed by talented, committed, and respected professionals would have identified and managed someone like Cho before he completely cracked. It may not have. But the events in Blacksburg are only an extreme example of the thousands of catastrophes that happen everyday because the social safety net has been slashed beyond all recognition, and the private charities that conservatives thought would move to fill the gap are completely overwhelmed and unable to respond to the needs presented.

We've been held hostage by the Small Government theocrats in charge for the last ten or so years. It's time we start assertively pushing that they are responsible for failure after failure, Virginia Tech after Katrina, and that these failures are a intrinsic to and completely foreseeable consequence of their philosophy of government. And the goal is not to do Small Government better than they do, it's to try a different way altogether. Maybe instead of drowning it, we can take government to the lake and teach it how to swim.

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