I suppose it's natural to think about what we are not getting from our government; after all, the scientists tell us that the brain has a negativity bias. Taking in the news, we become aware of all the ways our leaders have failed us: in fighting injustice (as the recent Black Lives Matter protests have emphasized), in providing too little too late (as in the federal government's response to the coronavirus pandemic), and in allocating resources badly (see Reallocating Resources in a Democracy.)
But coming up on the 4th of July weekend, I've been thinking about what the governments in the U.S. — local, state, and federal — do for us. And I find there are lots of services to be grateful for.
The website GovernmentIsGood.com describes itself as "An Unapologetic Defense of a Vital Institution." It decries the demonization of government and highlights government's forgotten achievements, how government protects our rights, how government is good for business, and more.
My favorite part of this site is "A Day in Your Life with Government: How Public Programs Improve Your Life in Innumerable Ways." Reading through it, I am reminded to be grateful for:
- having clean water to use when washing my face and making my coffee because local governments monitor the quality of the water supply;
- being able to plan my day around the weather, thanks to the forecasts provided by the National Weather Service;
- knowing that the electrical and gas lines in my house are safe because they were inspected by the city when the house was built;
- having a flush toilet connected to the city's system that transports, treats, and disposes of waste;
- being confident that the medicines my family takes are safe and effective because they have been approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration;
- realizing that when I have to travel by car on highways that such things as seat belts, traffic laws, speed limits, required vehicle inspections — all the result of government actions — help keep me safe.
- being able to eat at a restaurant or buy food at a grocery store, knowing that both the establishment and the produce have had to conform to health safety standards set by the government.
Check out this sample day and find your own reasons to be grateful for your government. This exercise is a great way to celebrate the 4th of July!