The Purpose of Government
THE PURPOSE OF GOVERNMENT
By: Representative Matthew C. Patrick, Third Barnstable District
November 10, 2004
That was quite a campaign. I?m glad it?s over. It?s time to mend fences and remind everyone that we are all in this together so it is time to work together.
My thanks goes out to all of you who voted because you believe that government can do good things, be constructive and help those of us who are not yet middle class reach middle class. The role of government, in my mind, is to level the playing field so that all of us can realize our full potential through education and a hand up, if need be.
One of the most interesting bits of information I picked up during the campaign came in an op-ed piece, ?Walking the walk on family values,? that appeared in the Globe 10/31/04 by William V. D?Antonio, a professor emeritus of the University of Connecticut and visiting research professor at Catholic University in Washington, D.C. He comments on the way Republicans painted the citizens of Massachusetts as wastrels with high taxes, low moral standards and little understanding of family values. This was done in an effort to damage the campaign of Senator Kerry. However, according to his analysis of the facts, nothing could be further from the truth.
Professor D?Antonio looked at census data and found that Massachusetts has the lowest divorce rate in the nation at 2.4 per 1000 residents. Texas has a divorce rate of 4.1% per 1000. The states in the Northeast all had lower divorce rates in a national ranking. The Southern or bible belt states all had higher rates of divorce about double those of the northeast. He asked why this was so and came to some startling but obvious conclusions.
Couples in the South get married at an earlier age than we do in the Northeast. Their average household incomes are lower and there are fewer Roman Catholics in the South. The most telling statistic was found in how we value education. Massachusetts has the highest rate of education in the nation with 85% completing high school while only 76% completed high school in Texas. More than one third of us have a college degree in Massachusetts compared with only 23% in Texas. The other northeastern states are right behind Massachusetts.
People who stay in school longer get married at a latter age when they are more mature and have greater economic security. Massachusetts leads in per capita family income and has a low number of births by teenagers at 7.4% as a percentage of total births. In contrast, Texas has 16.1 births by teenagers.
The professor found that there are many Catholics in the Northeast corridor and the Catholic Church is famous for teaching social justice. Jesus was big on helping the poor, the homeless and the down trodden. Catholics have traditionally supported minimum wages, living wages in the public sector and care of the elderly and young. I related to this because as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ghana, Africa, I soon realized that a disproportionate number of us were Catholics.
My Catholic upbringing is the main reason I ran for public office. I still find our first and only Catholic President John F. Kennedy?s words compelling, ?Ask not what your Country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your Country.? How can any of us forget? He was and still is a great source of pride and inspiration for all Catholics in this nation.
Professor D?Antonio sums it up by saying, ?For all the Bible Belt talk about family values, it is the people from Kerry?s home state, along with their neighbors in the Northeast corridor, who live these values. Indeed, it is the ?blue states", led by Massachusetts and Connecticut, that have been willing to invest more money over time to foster the reality of what it means to leave no children behind. And they have been among the nation?s leaders in promoting a living wage as their goal in public employment. The money they have invested in their future is known more popularly as taxes; these so-called liberal people see that money is their investment to help insure a compassionate, humane society.?
I?m proud to be Democrat from Massachusetts because we have used our government to help people and we have been successful. Please join with me in carrying on this tradition.