In his Aug. 20 letter (“Why are accusations hurled only at some”), Matt Sisk of Fort Ashby ridicules “a government that cannot run the Postal Service, Medicaid, Medicare, public schools, jails, Social Security, roads, sidewalks, or any other program needing an increasingly larger amount of funds (i.e. tax dollars).”

In fact, Mr. Sisk ridicules, not “a government,” but many governments, because some of these services he disdains are provided at the federal level, others by states, counties and cities, and some, such as roads, by collaborations among multiple governments.

I’m curious to know which of the listed services Mr. Sisk believes we should do without, if any; what private companies or organizations could provide the remaining services for any price; how that price could be guaranteed never to increase; and how that price would be paid.

Would Mr. Sisk pay a toll to a private road operator, for example, each time he leaves his driveway? How many such tolls would have to be paid between his home and the grocery store?

On my desk as I type is a July 27 Frostburg post office receipt. Because e-mail wouldn’t suffice, I mailed a signed paper, a contract, to a colleague in Yorkshire, England. It safely arrived in a few days. The price was 98 cents. Can Mr. Sisk name a private company that would provide this service for less? Or would he be willing to carry my next letter to Yorkshire himself for, say, 75 cents?

By now the reader may suspect that I am in league with “the government.” I have a terrible confession to make: I am the government. I have taught at public universities for 16 years, and sit on two civic boards in Frostburg.

My wife teaches at a public university as well. My father retired from the U.S. Postal Service in Batesburg, S.C., and my mother-in-law retired from the public schools of Roanoke, Virginia.

Given his opinion of all levels and services of government, Mr. Sisk seems to assume that my family members and I all have been inept in our jobs, sinister in our intentions, or — at the very least — a waste of taxpayer money and an affront to private enterprise and freedom.

While government certainly bears watching, Mr. Sisk seems to resent not specific government scandals or problems, but the very existence of government.

This raises a question: What would our economy be, in the counties of Allegany or Garrett, Mineral or Somerset, today or in the foreseeable future, without government?

Ask any mail carrier, police officer, public-school teacher, prison guard, military recruiter, forest ranger, librarian, driver’s-license clerk or drill sergeant, any public defender, prosecutor or judge, any asphalt spreader or ATK employee working on government contracts, any doctor or nurse reimbursed by Medicare and Medicaid — not to mention any individual dependent on a Social Security check, a military pension, etc.

I wish more of us government employees, government contractors and, yes, government officials would speak up for the services we provide as fair, valuable and necessary.

When any American anywhere rails against government, he is railing against me, my family, hundreds of my neighbors and millions of my co-workers, and as Merle Haggard once put it, he’s walkin’ on the fightin’ side of me.

Andy Duncan


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