Between 1933 and 1980, the federal government put together the efforts that tamed the Great Depression, won World War II, created a network of international organizations that maintained stability for more than 50 years, rebuilt Europe, developed and produced the atomic bomb, built the hydroelectric dams like Bonneville and Grand Coulee, explored the universe, developed the Internet, fought and won the Cold War, eliminated many dreaded childhood diseases, built the interstate highway system, put a man on the moon and brought him home safely, brought electricity to rural parts of America, and built the St. Lawrence Seaway. Oh, I know, you’re going to say, “Hey, Rockwell International and Grumman built the equipment that put the man on the moon.” But it was the federal government that put those efforts together.

The federal government also established national centers of expertise in medical research, diplomacy, intelligence and law enforcement, agricultural research, and many other areas. It has been popular to deride government employees as lazy bureaucrats or deep state, but they are the top people in their field and we rely on them for weather forecasts, disaster relief, protection of national parks and forests, climate change research, control of infectious diseases, management of Social Security and Medicare, investigating crime, and making sure people pay their taxes.

Leon Reed is a former congressional aide and is the author or co-author of five books on

military history. He is the chair of Gettysburg Democracy for America and its Government Accountability Task Force.

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