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Insulting Joe Biden solves nothing: Government is not the problem, it is the solution

Hassan Yassin

Published: Updated:

In a democracy, a president or prime minister is elected in order to form a government or administration whose task it is to manage the country and tackle the multiple challenges it faces. That mandate is valid until the next elections are held, upon which the people are called upon to renew their confidence in that government or to select a new president or prime minister they believe may form a government more up to the challenge.

Upon President Ronald Reagan’s election, he told Americans in his inaugural address in 1981 that, “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem.” It remains somewhat of a mystery to me how Reagan could run for president and head of the US government if he truly believed that this would make him a part of the problem.

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Ever since the Reagan years, government has appeared increasingly to become a problem in the eyes of the American people, and this mistrust has spread worldwide. President Joe Biden has been courageously facing an unprecedented health and economic crisis, using the tools of government he was elected to take charge of to mitigate the negative effects on the American people, their pocketbooks and their future. For doing that job, he is being insulted, shamed and labeled a socialist or a communist. Such critiques, unfortunately, are all too common in American politics. When democratic leaders or their governments are labeled as socialist, communist or even capitalist, we are hearing outdated and now perfectly meaningless ideological categories of a century past intended solely to stigmatize. We are not dealing with dictatorships, but with governments doing the job they were elected to do.

The trillions of dollars the US and other governments have spent on economic stimulus since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis are essential economic tools intended to preserve the future health of national economies and individuals. That is why government has the capacity to issue government bonds and to print money, just as a business is able to take on a loan or new investment to improve its performance or to help traverse a difficult period in order to preserve rather than destroy wealth. Over the last year-and-a-half, the US government has extended $7 trillion to save the country and its people from economic collapse. This is not about socialism or capitalism, but about a government stepping up and doing its job to preserve the future of a country. Without such tools, the coronavirus would not only be tragically collapsing lungs, but collapsing entire economies and the livelihoods of several billion people. Global government debt has indeed increased by $24 trillion but borrowing remains historically cheap due to low interest rates, with the only other alternative being economic catastrophe.

President Barack Obama and his then-Vice President Joe Biden were faced with such crucial decisions immediately upon their inauguration following the 2008 financial crisis. The United States and Europe lost $1 trillion in toxic assets, US household wealth fell by $14 trillion, but government action succeeded in propping up key pillars of the US economy and its people’s savings, providing support for companies such as General Motors, AIG, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. As a result, the national debt indeed increased, but a broader economic collapse was averted, again preserving the livelihood and the partial savings of millions of people who would otherwise have lost everything. Those who labeled and tried to stigmatize the Obama administration as socialist are the very people whose livelihood was preserved by the economic decisions of an administration simply doing its job.

Today government is largely about the ability to manage, to administer, to employ talented and committed civil servants to successfully steer a country and its wellbeing, as a husband or wife responsibly steer a household. A government, responsible for taxation and spending, is the best tool we have to allocate spending and priorities. If capitalism were the answer, I cannot imagine major businesses or the rich elites stepping up to save an economy with their wealth or filling the gap to ensure income and services to the poor as they traverse a crisis.

Government and institutions are some of the most advanced creations of human civilization, instituting law and order, social justice, an army to protect a country or continent, and economic tools to ensure the prosperity and wellbeing of a nation. That is the job government is tasked with, and it is why government is the solution and not the problem. To keep attacking and shaming a government before its term is up for election is both ridiculous and counter-productive for all involved. Governing is precisely what a government must do, and it requires the support and cooperation of its people to be successful.

Governments are chosen by the people and they are also ousted by the people if they are deemed not to have done their job. Government is about the ability to raise standards, to reform and modernize a country, to arbitrate on taxes and spending, allocating resources where they are most needed.

We may all express preferences for parties or politicians who are not currently in power, but a people should do all they can to support their government as it tries to achieve the common good. It is time to abandon meaningless and outdated labels and accusations of a government being too socialist or too capitalist. Those ideological categories are no longer relevant. Only government, its various tools and its duty to work for the greater good, are.

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Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.