Bravo, Sherrod Brown, for stepping forward to say the obvious thing:
“Everybody knows that government creates jobs,” Brown said, citing the highway bill that has passed the Senate but is bottled up in the GOP-controlled House, which Dems say would create hundreds of thousands of jobs.
“Government creates jobs in highways,” Brown said. “We hire private contractors. That creates other jobs. It builds an economic foundation for job creation.”
“During the fifties, the sixties, the seventies, the eighties, the United States had great infrastructure programs,” Brown continued. “We were the envy of the world. Those are clear formulaic job creating strategies that we know.”
Whenever I read something like this, what I wonder is, why isn't there an organization on the left that's dedicated to letting people know the good that government does, and has done--dedicated to trumpeting this kind of information? Let me explain.
You have all kinds of groups on the left devoted to all kinds of specific causes, but there is no group--not one that I know of--that is dedicated to the idea of promoting government. I don't mean promoting the public sector, which gets into complex workforce issues. I mean promoting government.
I submit that if there were a steady diet of ads on television, like the diet of ads for new drugs or ads touting all manner of private-sector innovation, that touted the things government does and has done, public attitudes over time, and maybe even not that much time, would change for the better.
No one gets on an interstate highway and thinks, my government built this, and it did a fine job and it's a great thing. Most people don't look at their local river or lake and think, "Gee, I bet my government has spent millions of dollars over the years keeping this clean." Actually, I do, but most people don't. But if people saw television commercials reminding them that these good things were done through public means, they'd stop and think for three seconds. Three seconds is a good start.
You can scoff, but there must be a reason drug makers and beer companies and car manufacturers spend billions of dollars on television advertising every year. It must work. What's needed here are some rich liberals--and moderates, and hey, even conservatives, maybe, of the old school--who are willing to put money into such a group. It would make a difference, and when someone like Sherrod Brown says what he said today, it wouldn't occur in some context-free black hole.
It's really weird when you think about it--and, frankly, very telling about the state of contemporary liberalism--that we have this situation where we have a thousand groups dedicated to their particular causes, each of which can only be advanced through government--and no one, no one is bothering to defend the instrument through which these causes can be advanced. An instrument, by the way, that also happens to be heavily under attack from the other side.
It's no wonder liberalism isn't working these days. Contemporary liberalism is like trying to plant a garden by bringing all the flowers and herbs but no soil in which to grow them.