Henry Ford made cars but he didn’t build any roads.

We suffer legions of fellow citizens who hate government and are certain that all innovation and growth comes from the almighty private sector, driven by individualists and innovators.

I copy/pasted this some months back and failed to copy the link. It speaks to this point better than anything I’ve ever read. And I don’t know who said it. So my apologies the author and my thanks for the fine words.

Decades of relentless Republican hate-mongering against the government has done its job.

Never mind that it was government that pulled off the greatest feat of social engineering in history. In 1900, only 4% of Americans graduated from high school. By 2000, more than 80% did. It was this mass educated public that made possible the most technically sophisticated economy in the history of the world.

It was government that won both World War I and World War II, leaving the U.S. economy astride the world like a colossus, able to harvest the fruits for decades. It was the government GI Bill program that educated a generation of young people to ultimately defeat the Soviet Union.

It was the government that wired every house in the country for electricity during the Great Depression, setting up the largest household consumer-goods market in the world in the 1950s: home appliances. And it was government guarantees for home loans that set off the greatest building boom in the history of the world: suburbia.

It was government that paved more than 3 million miles of road between 1930 and 1960, making possible the massive economic boom associated with automobiles, mass mobility, and more. It was government research that invented the graphical user interface (I remember when we called it ‘gooey’) and the Internet.

Of course, none of that matters.

13 responses to “Henry Ford made cars but he didn’t build any roads.

  1. I guess that was called “big government spending”. Good thing we got all that stuff done before the 21st century because it would never get off the ground now and we would be a third world economy…which is probably where we’re headed if we don’t get some big programs started, like maybe repair all those 50 year old roads and bridges and water systems.


  2. But Jesus hates big government.


  3. Ric ,

    ” Well, yeah. The guy never had any kids, right? Apparently he never got laid anyway. Saved all the fighting over succession. Didn’t stop all the killing in his name though. Quite a record for a guy who likely didn’t exist an any significant way. ”

    And you know all of this because : You were there ? You read your Bible ? Some other Liberal told you so ?

    Ms. Holland ,

    ” It was government that won both World War I and World War II, leaving the U.S. economy astride the world like a colossus, able to harvest the fruits for decades. ”

    So all of the Americans who fought had nothing to do with it ? The guvment did it, cool . Isn’t it a fact that the World Wars elevated the United States into the oppressive Imperialist power that stomps on the rest of the world . That was the start of our stealing the world’s resources and melting the ice caps .

    ” At least we know Elvis was real – and, perhaps, still in the building. ”

    Could Elvis resist a tempter after fasting for 40 days ? One twinkie and a couple of pills and Elvis would have left the building .


  4. Again Scott condemns himself by his own words, once again proving my theory about him.


    • Actually, I am currently reading a book by former Baptist minister, noted biblical scholar, Jesus Seminar Fellow, and professor of theology and scriptural studies at the Coleman Theological Seminary Dr. Robert Price. It is called “The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man.” It explains in great detail how much of the Jesus story is rendered impossible by the slightest scrutiny. It is full of fascinating stuff from a historical perspective.


  5. Government did build a large portion of the electric grid, but investor owned utilities made significant contributions as well.

    Government provides important services that are difficult to have provided by a private market. Things that we must choose to consume as society. National defense is a frequently cited example.

    But that also should make the clear a problem with government provision of services. We generally have to choose a collective. The median voter decides, and most people are not really please with the level of public services. Some want more others less. Most of you likely got more of Iraq war than you wanted to pay for.

    When goods can be privately consumed, one can (subject to their income) choose to purchase the goods they want. You don’t get a basket of clothes and food that the majority wants. Different people can choose to consume different bundles of goods.

    Altogether I prefer private consumption to the extent possible. Many service must however be in the public realm, their importance shouldn’t be underestimated.


    • I think you’ve got it about right Bruce – I’d only add that government does a fairly good job with delivering the essential services to ‘the commons’. They aren’t perfect and waste money but so do huge corporations. Just look at what the new management found at GM in ’09.


  6. Ric,

    What ever you do, don’t try to answer my words . You can’t afford the loss of brain cells that would short out .


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