Sunday, April 10, 2011
12 – 4/10/11: In Praise of Public Goods and all Things Great
Two people I interviewed in Ashland, Wisconsin (more on Wisconsin interviews in the next blog) had this to say about government:
When functioning the way it is supposed to be, government is the collective effort to provide what we need for civil society: police, roads, drivers’ licenses, support for the poor, clean air, water, etc.
The economy doesn’t work without government; government provides the common-wealth. If the road to your business is not plowed, you will have no business. Government does what we need for the common good –those things that private industry does not, or cannot, provide (like defense).
I’ve wanted to write in praise of the public goods (and all things great) I’ve availed myself of while on this epic journey and these two folks handed me the opportunity to do so.
In the ten weeks I’ve been on the road, I’ve:
· Traveled over 6000 miles of public roads and highways, including a section of the original Lincoln Highway (see post #1 - unfortunately, the Lincoln Highway segment felt like it was the original, it was so pocked and cracked. Infrastructure deficit!).
· Availed myself of countless public restroom facilities.
· Drove two National Parkways, highways in the National Park System (Natchez Trace and Blue Ridge).
· Visited and/or camped in two national parks (Joshua Tree in California and the Cuyahoga Valley in Akron, Ohio).
· Visited and/or camped in three county parks.
· Visited and camped in 11 state parks.
· Visited two National Lakeshores, Indiana Dunes (Lake Michigan) and the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore (Lake Superior).
· Ate fish that came from a recently certifiable “ok-to-eat-fish-caught-here,” Lake Erie (no small feat to clean that lake).
· Took two public (and free) ferries: one from Mustang Island, Texas and one across the Mississippi River.
· Filled my water tanks from public water sources.
· Dumped my RV tanks at public dumping stations (including one at a service area on the Ohio Turnpike, a remarkable thing).
· Breathed clean air.
· Ate safe food.
· Treated my migraines with drugs regulated and tested for safety.
· Walked my dogs on trails built and maintained by public entities.
· This trip was possible because of a sabbatical, provided by a public college.
Like the business that can’t do business if public goods aren’t present (roads, snow removal, water, sewage), this journey would not be possible without this long, likely incomplete, list. In fact, if it weren’t for public schools, libraries and public student aid for college/university, I would not be here, doing this trip, doing this work.
So, today, I sing praises to public goods and wonder how we can spread the word to others that public goods, literally, provide foundation and ballast to our lives.
I also sing praises to all things Great as I find myself, in Ashland Wisconsin (visiting former colleague and friend Sharon Anthony and her family) on the shore of yet another Great Lake.
I’ve found myself during this trip, on the shores of three (really great) Great Lakes: Lake Erie, Lake Michigan and Lake Superior. As the pictures show, Superior is still working on giving up its ice.