The role of government

The recent government shutdown and the Congressional gridlock over the debt limit have again raised the issue of the role of government.

One of the many things that those who want limited government don’t realize is just how many jobs are created in useful government programs.

Almost everyone knows, or is related to, at least one of the more than 20 million Americans employed in public education, state and local government, federal agencies, and defense.

The multiplier effect as those employees buy things creates additional private sector jobs.

Just as important as direct government employment is the role that government-funded research has played in supporting the growth of many of our major industries.

Those include computers, aircraft, the Internet, defense, nanotechnology, renewable energy, pharmaceuticals, etc. It was the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, not Al Gore, that spawned the Internet.

Much of that funded research occurs at universities, such as the University of Minnesota, where $51.3 million in state bonding funds is building a new physics and nanotechnology building. This will support $30 million annually that the University receives in federal research grants, which have the potential to create new businesses and jobs.

Government is not the problem, as one former president suggested. It is an important partner to American industry as we compete in a technological world.