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Recommended Commentary

Public Works collects articles and commentary that offer insight on government and its role in the U.S. and exemplify what we consider constructive approaches to public discourse on government. We welcome suggestions from our partners of other pieces that could be added to this section of the website. 

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Government is Good A project of Douglas J. Amy, Professor of politics at Mount Holyoke College, this website provides an unapologetic defense of government.  government  
The auto industry lives. Can we admit that government intervention worked? By E. J. Dionne Jr., The Washington Post Dionne contends that by providing financial support to auto companies our government saved the U.S. auto industry; and asks, “Might practical-minded business people now admit that there are occasions when government intervention can be good for capitalism…?”  economy August 2, 2010 
The Long Strategy by David Brooks, The New York Times In this op-ed, Brooks makes a pretty good pitch for public structures as the foundation of the economy and government’s role as paving the way for innovation and progress. economy July 26, 2010 
Further cuts will imperil core functions by Karim Meghji, HeraldNet  As the state of Washington holds public forums on the state budget, Medhji contends that while they can’t deny the budget crisis, they can choose the manner in which they respond to it –choosing to act, not out of fear, but out of determination to emerge from it with essential public structures and protections intact. budget and taxes July 24, 2010 
State budget cuts: across the board, and a cross purposes by Melissa Maynard, Stateline.org In 2010 states, across the country, were forced to make massive budget cuts in order to balance budgets that have been running historic deficits. In this article, Maynard, pulls back the curtain on the downsides and unintended consequences of the “quick and dirty” cuts and sums up the bottom line for state governments. budget and taxes June 23, 2010 
The True Patriotism of Paying taxes by James Carroll, Boston Globe In this op-ed, James Carroll challenges the myth that America was born in rebellion against taxes and reminds us of the origins and the nobility of paying our taxes. budget and taxes April 12, 2010 
Familiarity breeds affection for government, by Gloria Shur Bilchik, Occasional Planet According to a telephone survey of 1,000 adults, conducted earlier this year by Segal+Gale, a New-York-based company that specializes in “strategic branding,” when the federal government communicates effectively and helps people understand what it does, citizens’ opinions of government improve. government April 9, 2010 
Infrastructure: Rebuilding an American Legacy by Joe Conason, Truthout In this op-ed, Conason argues that finding the ways and means to rebuild America is a current economic necessity -- and a moral obligation to those who will follow us. public structures April 8, 2010 
Study: Oregon’s Business taxes are the lowest, Portland Business Journal  Nice use of the image “backbone” as another way to emphasize the foundational nature of public structures to our economy. budget and taxes April 6, 2010 
Welcome to Smallville by Ezra Klein, Truthout A well reasoned call for us to think of public systems rather than individual elected officials and to insist on practical problem solving rather than partisan advantage. It calls for structural changes in how Congress makes decisions. governance and governing March 29, 2010 
Trouble Balancing the Books by Renée Loth, The Boston Globe The Boston Public Library’s proposal to close as many as 10 neighborhood branches is causing much anguish among its residents. In this article, Loth writes about the hard choices facing the BPL, explains why public libraries are more important than ever, and asserts that broad public support in the form of taxes is the only real solution. budget and taxes March 12, 2010 
Millennials More Pro-Government Than Older Americans by Catherine Rampell, The New York Times, Economix Blogs The Pew Research Center recently released a giant report on the Millennial Generation. In this article, Rampell, writes about one provocative aspect of the report – that Millennials appear to be more pro-government, pro-regulation and pro-market-intervention than older generations. Government February 24, 2010 
Who Says Public Opinion Makes Tax Increases Impossible? by Jay Walljasper, On the Commons.org Votes in Oregon show taxes popular when invested in public services. And when rich pay their share.  budget and taxes February 1, 2010 
How America Can Rise Again by James Fallows, January/February 2010, The Atlantic Magazine  In many significant ways, the U.S. remains the envy of the world. But here’s the alarming problem: our governing system is old and broken and dysfunctional. Fixing it—without resorting to a constitutional convention or a coup—is the key to securing the nation’s future. government January 1, 2010 
What is Living and What is Dead in Social Democracy? by Tony Jundt, The New York Review of Books  In this essay, Jundt examine the questions “Why is it that here in the United States we have such difficulty even imagining a different sort of society from the one whose dysfunctions and inequalities trouble us so? Why is it so beyond us to conceive of a different set of arrangements to our common advantage?”  citizenship and democracy December 17, 2009 
On Election Day, a Win for Government by E.J. Dionne, The Washington Post In this op-ed, Dionne reflects on the defeat of TABOR-style ballot measures in Washington State and Maine that would have imposed strict limits on state revenues, highlighting how opponents made the case for government and exposed the impact of cutbacks to public services. government November 9, 2009 
National Parks: a Case for Big Government by James Poniewozik, Time Magazine In this article about Ken Burns’ six-part PBS mini-series, The National Park: America’s Best Idea, James Poniewizik writes, “With America frothing over the role of government — should it save banks? should it expand health coverage? — The National Parks makes a simple case for an idea that is wildly controversial in the year of the tea party: That we need government to do things the private sector can't or won't.” government September 28, 2009 
Government Capitalism Can Be A Very Good Thing by George Sibley, The Summit Daily News This article recounts government’s role in bringing electric energy to rural communities in the 1930s and stresses the importance of government's role in today’s energy evolution. energy May 19, 2009 
Show Us the Ball by Thomas L. Friedman, The New York Times This piece on “cap and trade” includes an aside about public attitudes toward taxation. The need to focus on simplicity and “understandable-ness” when communicating about taxes is an important take away. budget & taxes April 7, 2009 
How to Frame Government Laying a Foundation by WanderMan, Daily Kos. A framing analysis consistent with the Public Works philosophy and approach. government March 25, 2009 
We Are Entering a New Political Era, and We Need an Educated Public to Deal with It by Doug Kreeger, Alternet  The era of hearing that government is evil, that a "hands-off" government gives us freedom is over. Now it's time to think about the public good. government March 18, 2009 
How the Economy Works by the Center for American Progress (Animation) Recovery investment isn’t only about the government paying for individual jobs; it is about rebuilding confidence in the economy and creating an environment that will enable economic growth and spur the private economy to create jobs. economy February 10, 2009 
The Case for Bigger Government by Jeffrey D. Sach, Time Magazine A leading international economic adviser makes the case for government and the need for more revenues to support its activities. government January 8, 2009 
Public Public Works for Our Future, Or,Why We Should Keep Public Works Public. Remarks by Louise Nelson Dyble to the Public Works Historical Society The history of public works offers evidence of the potential for collective investments that have broad benefits and that promote long-term prosperity. public works August 19, 2008 
But Does Business Really Outperform Government? by Pierre Tristam, Daytona Beach News Journal Tristam provides examples of the public sector working in our everyday lives, suggesting that taxes and government are not the evils some make them out to be. government February 29, 2008 
Public Works: When “Big Government’ Plays Its Role by Adam Cohen, New York Times  Great public projects were built by Roosevelt’s PWA: some high profile – like the Bay Bridge, the Hoover Dam and Washington’s National Airport; others less glamorous but critically important to the quality of modern live – like water mains, pump stations, and sewage treatment plants. In this op-ed, Cohen points out that while the story of these New Deal programs have largely faded into history, given the current times, it’s a legacy well worth remembering. public structures November 13, 2007 
Gov. Gregoire's ferry-district plan should be scuttled In this short op-ed, Joni Balter argues against an "ATM"-like approach to government services. Instead, she argues, we need a shared vision of government, where we all benefit together.  government  
Showing 27 items