Before presenting the entire list, here are some truly dramatic government success stories that every American should know. Private enterprise could not have accomplished a single one of these feats.

Settling the West: The U.S. government played a vital role in settling the West, including massive land purchases and giveaways, the Homestead Act, the Pony Express, agricultural colleges, rural electrification, telephone wiring, road-building, irrigation, dam-building, farm subsidies, and farm foreclosure loans. (More)

Funding Railroads: In the late 19th century, the government gave away 131 million acres in federal land grants, at enormous cost to itself, to railroad companies to build their railroads. Four of the five transcontinental railroads were built this way. To help them, Congress authorized loans of $16,000 to $48,000 per mile of railroad (depending on the terrain).

Telephone Infrastructure: The early telephone companies couldn't afford to wire communities for telephone service themselves, so they turned to the government for help -- and government funding wired nearly the entire nation.

Eisenhower's Interstate Highway Program: This massive 1950s program paved an entire continent with highways, bringing undreamed of economic change, and allowing the middle class to resettle from the cities to the suburbs.

Rural Electrification: In 1935, only 13 percent of all farms had electricity, because utility companies found it unprofitable to wire the countryside for service. Roosevelt's Rural Electrification Administration began correcting this market failure; by 1970, more than 95 percent of all farms would have electricity.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (New Version): Once a bureaucratic joke, today FEMA has won widespread praise for its response to natural disasters like earthquakes, hurricanes, floods and tornadoes. No private business could wait the long intervals between disasters like FEMA does, or bring relief to entire cities or states.

Human Genome Project: The government provides the money and the organization for this 20-year project, which will give medical science a road-map of the human genetic code. Researchers have already found genes that contribute to 50 diseases.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: This legendary American organization, popularized by the movie Outbreak, isolates and wipes out entire plagues and diseases that strike anywhere in the world. "The CDC," says Dr. James Le Duc of the World Health Organization, "is the only ballgame in town."

The Internet: In the 1960s, the government created ARPANET, which was used and developed by the Defense Department, public universities and other research organizations. In 1985, the National Science Foundation created various supercomputing centers around the country, linking the five largest together to start the modern Internet we know today.

The Federal Reserve System: Using Keynesian policies to expand or contract the money supply, the Fed has completely eliminated the depression from the American economic experience in the last six decades.

Employee Rights: Over strong opposition from business leaders and conservatives in Congress, liberals passed all the laws that workers take for granted today. These include the elimination of child labor, the creation of the 40-hour work week, overtime pay, paid vacations, the minimum wage, workers' compensation, worker's insurance programs, Social Security, organized labor rights and worker safety and health laws.

Here is an alphabetical list of other government accomplishments. It hardly scratches the surface:

AmeriCorps: In exchange for volunteer work in the community, students receive $5,000 credit for college. An IBM study shows that for every dollar invested in AmeriCorps, the return is between $1.60 and $2.60.

Ban on Leaded Gasoline: The oil industry fought this ban tooth and nail. But a few years after the ban, the level of poisonous lead in children's blood fell 37 percent.

Ban on CFCs: The chemical industry initially opposed efforts to ban this refrigerant chemical, which destroys the life-preserving ozone layer. Only government treaties and repeated scientific warnings forced them to change.

Ban on DDT and PCBs: Industry did everything in its power to stop the ban of these highly poisonous pesticides, which devastated wildlife populations. But from 1970 to 1983, the amount of DDT in human body fat fell 79 percent.

Bureau of Economic Analysis: This agency provides all the economic statistics that Congress, the executive branch, the Federal Reserve, the stock and bond markets, private industry and the entire economy depend on to make their analysis. Private industry could never do such an enormous job.

Clean Air and Clean Water Acts: By 1970, three fourths of America's rivers were undrinkable and unswimmable. Air quality in cities contributing to spiraling lung-disease rates. Over industry opposition, these Acts turned the environment around and visibly cleaned both our air and water.

Consumer Product Safety Commission: Each year, products kill 21,700 consumers, injure 28.7 million more, and cost society $200 billion. It would be far worse without this watchdog agency screening 15,000 products a year for safety.

Cooperative Extension Service: The CES gives American farmers the latest and best agricultural information and scientific research. Experts credit it for turning them into the most productive farmers in the world.

Environmental Protection Agency: This agency monitors and controls pollution caused by solid wastes, pesticides, toxic substances, noise, and radiation. It has been in constant conflict with business, because it's usually cheaper for businesses to just dump pollution than treat it.

Federal Aviation Administration: Whatever its shortcomings (which stem from underfunding), the FAA has made our skies far safer than the free market would make them. The FAA not only controls air traffic for safety, but enforces safety regulations (which airliners are constantly trying to skirt to increase profits).

Federal Deposit Insurance Commission: During the Great Depression, a run on banks resulted in 10,000 bankruptcies and over $2 billion in lost deposits. Today, the FDIC insures bank deposits and makes a repeat performance completely impossible.

Federal Home Loans: This agency helps half a million Americans buy homes each year by guaranteeing their mortgages. Without them, millions of first-time buyers would have been denied home loans.

G.I. Bill: One of the most successful programs of all times, the G.I Bill sent an entire army of young men to college after World War II. It proved so valuable that the program continues to this day.

Head Start: This legendary program provides pre-schooling, nutritious meals, medical and dental care and other services to young children in their critical developmental years. More than 200 studies have found that it works.

Meals-on-Wheels: This highly popular program brings hot meals to the doorsteps of elderly people who cannot fix their own or leave their homes. Nearly a million senior citizens alleviate hunger or starvation thanks to this program.

Medicaid: This program provides health care to the elderly, disabled and poor. It covers half of all the people in nursing homes.

Medicare: Before Medicare, half our nation's senior citizens did not have any health care coverage at all. Now 99 percent of them do. Medicare passed in 1965, after one of the largest Congressional battles in history -- fueled, of course, by the insurance industry.

National Aeronautical Space Administration: A classic example of a long-term research and development program that no business could ever afford. Today we have communications, weather and scientific satellites that have revolutionized our daily lives, all thanks to NASA.

National Academy of Sciences: This is the premier scientific body in the United States, comprised of 1,800 of its best scientists. Membership is one of the highest honors of a scientist's career. The Academy's duty is to advise the government on scientific and technical issues, and to help coordinate scientific research in the U.S. It also commissions review panels on controversial issues and often gets to the bottom of them.

National Crime Information Center: This is a centralized federal computer service that provides police and criminal justice organizations with instant information on criminals. It tracks 400,000 wanted persons, and handles 1.3 million inquiries a day.

National Parks: This system oversees 369 national parks comprising 83 million acres. It is one of the most effective -- not to mention popular -- conservation efforts in our nation's history.

National Performance Review/"Reinventing Government": This is Al Gore's ambitious program to computerize and streamline government, borrowing techniques from high-performance private companies. It has already saved $58 billion and cut 200,000 workers, with much, much more to come.

National Weather Service: This agency not only gives you your daily weather reports, but saves the lives and/or livelihoods of pilots, sailors, farmers and those in the paths of destructive storms.

Peace Corps: Created by John F. Kennedy, this program sends 7,000 Americans a year out to developing countries to help them with everything from health care to farming techniques. Even conservatives like it, because the participants provide social, economic and political information to our intelligence agencies.

Police and Criminal Justice System: This may seem obvious, but it's also one of the best examples that government plays a vital role in society, one that could never be privatized. This is one of the best counter-arguments against pure anarchy.

Public Libraries: In 1992, America had 15,870 central public libraries and their branches, with nearly 700 million books and serial volumes in circulation. A University of Minnesota/Gallup survey found that 88 percent of all Americans consider public libraries "very important" as an educational support center for students of all ages.

School Lunches and Breakfasts: This program provides low-income kids with a third to a half of their daily nutrition. Since the program began, low-income kids have markedly improved their school performance and attendance. A classic example of how short-term public aid results in life-long individual benefits.

Securities and Exchange Commission: Before this agency was created, insider-trading and deceptive stock dealings ran rampant on Wall Street. The SEC enforces full and honest disclosure of all stock transactions, and fights to curb insider trading.

Social Security: Before 1935, retirement condemned huge numbers of old people to starving in the streets. Social security eliminated this ugly sight by providing them with a pension. Johnson's expansion of Social Security in 1966 reduced senior poverty even more, from 30 to 12 percent.

Student Loans and Grants: In 1993, the major federal student financial assistance programs awarded $25.7 billion in aid to students who could not otherwise afford college. Thanks to this program, it is a student's intelligence and drive -- not money -- that is more responsible for getting him or her through college.

The U.S. Armed Forces: Love 'em or hate 'em, the U.S. Armed Forces have won every war they ever fought. Even in Vietnam, they won the vast majority of their battles.

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