What Government Can Do For You

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Ben Cohen
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If you don't regularly check in at Mike Stark's blog 'The Stark Report', you really should. Mike is one of the only bloggers in America who actually goes down to Washington to interview politicians on camera and asks serious questions. He's a rarity in the blogosphere and a true treasure.

Recently, Mike interviewed Andrew Breitbart, the man responsible for organizing and promoting the now debunked ACORN pimp videos. The whole episode was deeply troubling as it shows the vulnerability of badly funded organizations like ACORN that do enormous good, but are unable to protect themselves against multi billion dollar media organizations determined to smear them. Mike has helped expose Breitbart for who he is - a shameless bully and a corporate stooge. But after his excellent interview and report, Mike also sheds a little light about himself and why taking down those who choose to use their talents to hurt the poor and helpless has become his calling:

For most of my childhood, I grew up in foster care. I was nourished
by government-provided school-lunches at government-run public schools.
There, I was taught and cared for by government employees – my
teachers. The physicians that treated my chicken pox were paid by the
government. The people that cared about me — my teachers, social
workers and physicians — were all government employees. And some of
them were pretty remarkable.

Today, I’ve graduated law school and am doing work that I enjoy and
(I hope) adds to the lives of others. I’m not sure I’d be here if it
weren’t for the teachers that recognized a young boy’s ferocious
appetite for knowledge, notwithstanding the constant upheaval in his
personal life. If it weren’t for government employees that cared and
had the patience of saints, who knows where this formerly-troubled kid
might have ended up?

Free market militants and anti government extremists will have you believe that government can do no good. But those living on the edges of society will always tell you otherwise. I grew up going to state funded schools in the UK up until the age of 11 and vividly remember friends of mine severely affected by the cuts that came under Margaret Thatcher. Those with learning disabilities were denied extra schooling and still cannot read to this day. Those who desperately needed after school care had to return to empty homes, no food and no parenting. When I return home to London I occasionally bump into the people I went to school with all those years ago. Some of them are not doing too well, and I often wonder if it could have been different had they been given more at that crucial age. And while conservatives argue that communities and charity should provide the resources for the least well off, I always ask, 'where were they then?'