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King: Dont just judge government on its quantity; quality counts, too
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Quick! In five words tell me. What’s the difference between Democrats and Republicans?

“More government vs less government.”

Now, in 10 words tell me what government means in a democracy. Think Abraham Lincoln. “... Of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

Democracy is defined not by how much or how little government a nation has but by who elects the government and how the government serves its people.

Who elects our government? Don’t be naive. The candidate with the most money wins more than 90 percent of the time. And where does the money come from? Not the people. It comes from corporations, special interests and rich donors.

And who does the government serve? Some will say it serves business interests, multinational corporations and the wealthy. Perhaps, and maybe this is not all bad.

But does the government also serve its people, people like you and me? Or does it, as some say, support an underclass of dependent individuals who contribute nothing to the general welfare?

The question is not more government or less government. It’s what kind of government do we want. I promise you, in today’s complicated, interdependent world, government is not likely to shrink, no matter who is elected.

There are too many of us. We live too close together, and we want too much. The question is: How do we manage our resources so that the nation stays healthy, safe and free to maximize both human and corporate potential? Neither candidate talks in these terms.

They argue about health care, but they don’t talk about what it takes to keep the nation healthy. When Michelle Obama campaigns for better eating habits, her detractors complain that she’s trying to implement a “nanny state.” Never mind that health professionals predict obesity will add $48 billion a year in health care costs over the next 20 years.

Mitt Romney believes the private sector is best equipped to manage our health care, but he never explains what he will do to keep the nation healthy. Specifics, Mr. Romney. What would you do about obesity?

I don’t believe President Barack Obama’s health care plan is the best we can do. Maybe Romney’s plan would be better, but according to the Department of Health and Human Services, since January 2011 when Obama’s 2010 health care law kicked in, seniors like me have saved a total of about $4.5 billion on prescription medications.

Sounds pretty good. I don’t want to go back to square one and start all over again. Furthermore, I resent the suggestion that I am one of those dependent individuals who has contributed nothing to the general welfare.

How much should government oversight do we need? Start with the obvious. When food in the grocery store comes from all over the world, I want someone checking to see that it’s safe. I want someone watching auto manufactures, building contractors, pharmaceuticals and airlines to make sure they’re not cutting corners.

I want someone monitoring the banks. Of course our banks don’t want to be regulated. Nor do lobbyists, or the insurance or energy industries. Where there is big money involved, it’s better if nobody is looking too hard.

On the other hand, I don’t want the government managing my private life. I actually think Romney might have made a good president except for the promises he has made to people who do want to manage our private lives.

Roe v Wade has been around since 1973. Assuming Romney became president, how would he go about reversing it? How much court time and government money would it take? Who would he prosecute?

And what about the children? I’ve spent enough of my own time and money trying to help children whose parents couldn’t or wouldn’t care for them. Again, specifics, Mr. Romney.

Government’s here to stay. Let’s just make sure it answers to the people, not special interests.

Joan King lives in Sautee. Her column appears biweekly on Tuesdays and at