Government is like a baby. An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other. Ronald Reagan, USA president.
Many people see government like Mr Reagan, as a monster that only goes after their taxes without giving them anything in return. This concept helps Liberal and Conservative ideologies to diminish government’s role. In my opinion that hides another issues; is easier cutting something down rather than make it efficient but most of all it is an economic manouver. Services not directly provided by government would have to be offered by private companies at a higher cost for governments and particulars; the end game is clear millionaires, usually infiltrated in conservative parties, would make profits out of things that were out of their reach. Using this message they have managed to cut government’s ability to provide jobs and services because they portrait them as money holes, instead of an essential element for a prosper functional society. Likewise Mitt Romney's view that poor people were poor because they were lazy makes easier cutting and privatising essential services. He uses the argument of so many conservatives that while workers work to pay for services unemployed people are just lazy and taking advantage of them creating a division within the society and making taxes look a burden for them and a gift for others. But things are not black and white; for example there are lots of people that work but simply can't afford health care or other services because cost of living has gone up much more than salaries. In USA for example the national free clinics association has denounced that 80% of their customers have a job but can't pay for health care anyway. Likewise in Europe austerity measures are making education and health less accessible for lower a middle class due to higher costs and lower wages to dispose of.
Reagan's view of government is true in some countries where people pay taxes and politicians don’t use that money for the improvement of society but for their own economic advancement. Sometimes we think only underdeveloped or developing countries have that problem, but we can also see it in Europe, for example Greece, Italy or Spain where corruption is much more spread than it should. However government is much more than that; corruption that perhaps should be legally penalised as an act of treason since they are stealing nation's resources, shouldn’t taint the function of government. There are many reasons why governments are beneficial and should be given funds to function properly.
On one side we have the services they provide at an affordable cost to citizens, through their taxes; for example education, health and security (police and firemen among others). These services are a commodity for people but at the same time a job for millions of citizens. Thus everyone benefits from “cheap” high quality services necessary for a decent living (not every job allows people to be able to afford private pricey services no matter how much they work), a part of society gets a job at the same time. Furthermore in countries with good public services that also creates a society with equal opportunities, because money doesn't make a difference on education or quality of life.
On the other side we have the millions of jobs government contributes to indirectly. For example in London, the public company in charge of transportation did in 2010 a comprehensive study of their providers so UK government, eager to cut TfL’s budget could appreciate the economic contribution of this company towards the whole of the UK economy. One recent example is the new 600 buses that the Mayor of London has ordered, which will safeguard 220 jobs across the UK, forming part of the 40,000 jobs annually supports outside London that add to the 19,000 it supports within the supply chain in London. Indeed every public organisation that delivers a service has to procure elements for their day to day business that would become profits for the private companies marketing them (from expert consultants to toilet paper).
One can argue some characteristics of public entities: how many attributions they must have and if they are as efficient as possible. But on public services like transport, education, or health essential of any advanced society it is undeniable that those institutions contribute to society providing a service as well as improving the private sector; without public contracts many companies wouldn’t make profits. The fact that a public company spends much in itself is not the problem, as long as that spending is necessary for society and generates private growth. If a public entity misuses funds (either through private appropriation of funds, contracting companies without managing the contract properly or investing money without a clear return of investment) an exhaustive review ought to be carried out to find any deviation and set rules that prohibit it from happening again. But no crisis nor misused should be the justification for cutting public funding which will only lead to privatising services, making impossible for a big part of the society access necessary services.
This change in policy is even more necessary in countries where the austerity measures have provoked public investment to drop. In Spain since 2008 around 180,000 companies have close down; some they were owed money and their creditors didn’t prorogued their loans, others had to close because in an economic crisis discouraging private investment they were not able to survive without public contracts. Companies closing down and governments reducing their budgets means letting go millions of people; in the middle of a crisis they will unlikely find another job and will add to the amount of private jobs lost and people claiming their benefits. Thus government will have to spend more money in due services with less income. On top of the economic benefits that public investment creates for the society there are moral implications on providing or not public quality services. After all who is to say that our lives will be perfect forever, we will always find a job and have enough income to have a decent life. Companies shut down, illness appears without asking, there are many reasons why we may be unable to work even if we want to. At the end when a sector or an individual needs help they often ask government, even banks did it. We should have a government that helps everyone to grow and provides help when necessary, always doing it in an efficient, reasonable and justifiable way.