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The Purpose Of Government

Call me old-fashioned, but I still hold with the ancient Greeks who said government has only one purpose, to improve the lives of citizens. If it doesn't, there is no reason for it, no reason at all, which is why I was a little surprised that with the nation at war, our intelligence services in a complete mess, as we just heard, the deficit soaring and jobs going overseas, the Senate decided the most important thing it needed to do was debate a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. The House will soon follow.

Full disclosure here. I am for civil unions, but I'm not sure that gay marriage is any of the government's business one way or the other. What irritates me as a taxpayer is that the Senate is debating this knowing full well the amendment has no chance of passing. Approval requires two-thirds of the House and Senate, and neither house can count a simple majority in favor. Still, they press on because an advocate says voters want people to be on the record on this. Well, who says?

It is the politicians who want their opponents on the record so they can use this issue to raise money, but it is a con. Nothing will change. Nothing. If Congress cannot figure out what to do with its time, members might skim Peter G. Peterson's new book "Running on Empty." He believes the country's heading toward financial collapse. He blames both parties and he says Democrats should find some ways to rein in the cost of entitlement programs while Republicans should get busy trying to look beyond tax cuts as the solution to every problem, but they won't.

Too many politicians have forgotten that government's only purpose is to improve citizens' lives. They've come to believe it's there to improve their lives.

By Bob Schieffer

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