Small government doesn't work

I am a classic FDR liberal. I believe government (at least in domestic policy) has been a force for good. President Roosevelt put in place economic institutions such as the Securities and Exchange Commission, which provided the stability for our post World War II economic boom. He saw that only big federal government could be a countervailing force against the excess risks taken by big business.

In 1980 Roland Regan sold us on the premise that government is the problem, that it is an impediment to the creative energies of private enterprise. That it would be "morning in America." Energy conservation policy was a no brainer for President Regan. He made a great symbolic statement by removing the solar panels from the roof of the White House soon after he moved in. They had been installed of course by that dour pessimist Jimmy Carter who foresaw the energy shortages that would require us to drill further and further offshore.

The Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 prohibited a bank holding company from owning other financial institutions. Democrat Bill Clinton signed the repeal into law in 1999. Many financial experts believe that the repeal contributed to the present global financial crisis by encouraging growth of mortgage-backed securities and other risky financial products.

And so we have had a series of preventable fiascos — the Savings and Loan meltdown, the Exxon Valdez Oil spill, 32 dead in a mine in West Virginia, the Gulf spill, the Madoff scandal, the housing bubble and the Great Recession. So many people would like to put the blame on the president who is in office now. But our troubles have been 30 years in the making.

David Lavine, Baltimore

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