I don’t know what to say about Charles Krauthammer’s insistence that government gets in the way of entrepreneurship and that President Barack Obama breaks the mold as an unrepentant statist, except to say that he is absolutely wrong on both counts (Commentary, July 20).
If one wants to understand government’s role in business, s/he has to go all the way back to the 1860s.
During the Civil War, Congress and President Abraham Lincoln enacted laws promoting a national railroad and land-grant colleges. The railroad — paid in large part by the federal government — made it possible for people liv ing in the East as well as those in California to travel, purchase and consume the same goods. Land-grant colleges, including the University of California, offered virtually free higher education — imagine that! — to generations of Americans who then went on to achieve greatness in many fields.
Could this have happened without the government? Not likely.
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Were there problems? Yep.
The railroad, among other entities, created vast wealth for a few people, fostered the growth of overreaching corporations and created an underclass that fought for the few crumbs at the bottom. It also fueled a Progressive movement that sought to rein in corporations and make society “fairer.” Republicans, including Teddy Roosevelt at the national movement and Hiram Johnson in California, led that movement that, in the process, grew gov ernment. The truth is sometimes inconvenient.