Last night I had dinner with a friend who considers himself a “free market socialist.” He mentioned that when talking with anti-big government types, he likes to ask them to name three government programs they want to see abolished that they have personally benefited from. Apparently people can usually name one such program, but that’s about it.
To answer this question, one would first have to compile a list of the government services and programs that one has used or that have been to one’s own personal benefit in some way. This itself was a bit of a challenge, as other than public schooling, it was hard for me to think of government services that I’ve used off the top of my head. After noodling the question for a while, however, I was able to come up with the following (undoubtedly noncomprehensive) list:
* I have attended public schools.
* For law school, I received federally subsidized loans.
* I have used public utilities (e.g. water & gas, electricity, garbage services).
* I’ve visited public parks, national monuments, etc.
* I’ve used the public library.
* I’ve used the public roads and, on occasion, public transportation.
* I sometimes use U.S. printed dollars as a medium of exchange.
* I’ve used the post office.
* I’ve used the police once, when my car was broken into, and can generally be said to have benefited indirectly from their existence.
* I am a member of the state bar, and my salary is probably higher than it otherwise would be if not for legal licensing.
I could go on, but you get the idea. Once the list was compiled, picking out three programs I’d get rid of was pretty easy (in my case, the three I’d pick are the post office, electrical service, and legal licensing).
What about you? What government services and programs have you used over the years, and of those what three would you get rid of?