Opinion: Former teacher taught student an enduring lesson

George Motolanez was my ninth-grade world history teacher. I remember sitting next to Dave Rochon and Lauren Leroux in 1979 when Mr. Motolanez taught us something that still has a strong and helpful influence upon my view of how the world works.
Up until that time I thought that the function of government was to represent people — all people. So even if my viewpoints were anti-commercial, for example, government’s job was to represent my views (in balance with all the other views of people out there).
Not so, Mr. Motolanez said, not at its core.
The core function of government is to coordinate the economy in order to promote the economy. Governments have to be funded, they have to get paid or they will cease to exist. A person may be able to subsist off the land but governments subsist upon money and therefore they need to promote the economy or risk death.
The implications of that lesson explained the animosity toward government of some of the old time Vermonters, often farmers who were largely self-sufficient. They didn’t want the commercial economy to grow; that hurt them.
It helped me to understand how the world works and why. He was a very good teacher. Mr. Motolanez taught me lots of other lessons, but this one really stayed with me.
Thank you, Mr. Motolanez. You will be missed.
Mike Sommers
Oakland, Calif.
Editor’s note: George Motolanez of Lincoln died last month at the age of 82.

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