Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Bank regulation

President Obama is pushing for bank regulation reform. Liberals will applaud this while calling for even stricter regulation, while folks identifying themselves as conservative will condemn it as Socialism.

But I've figured out how to translate GOPSpeak into actual English. "Socialism" once meant "government owning big business." That's how Marx/Lenin/Mao etc. defined it.

But in GOPSpeak "Socialism" now means “any regulation of business whatsoever.”

The rightists’ screeds will contrast evil "Democrat Party So-shul-ism" with the “Free Market.” This now means “Big business owning government.” Not explicitly of course. However, if government hops whenever the Masters of the Universe say "frog" that's what it means. That's what "too big to fail" means.

Which the big business owners and CEOs pulling the GOP’s strings think is just ducky—and the natural order of things. This is what Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Cay Johnston lays out in his book Free Lunch: How the wealthiest Americans enrich themselves at government expense (and stick you with the bill).

And the GOP will get the people most oppressed by big business—small business owners and rural Republican rank and file—to enthusiastically endorse these perversions of the language, because the GOP has learned how to get people to betray themselves and their loved ones and their future generations.

They accomplished this hat trick through three principles. They’ve discovered that even the most flat-out outrageous lies will be believed by half the people and than some, as long as you and your cohorts repeat them constantly, weave them into an emotionally satisfying narrative, and get the public to turn a deaf ear to the truth-tellers by invoking tribalism.

Tribalism is built into our DNA. It’s what gets us to excuse darn near anything someone we think is on our side does, and disbelieve everything someone we think is in the other tribe does. This is why the Republican attacks on the Democrats are so venomous and personal—they don’t attack the principles the Demos are espousing. They attack Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, saying their names with the same inflection you might use to describe dog droppings you just stepped in.

After all, you aren’t going to listen to someone you loathe—someone whose tribe is out to get yours.

And the tribe the GOP has built isn’t America. It’s just American self-identified conservatives. Well, in GOPSpeak “American” and “the American People” now means “people who vote Republican.” Democrats aren’t American. They’re enemies living here illegitimately. That’s why the nonsense about Obama not being a citizen has persisted so strongly. GOP rank and file FEEL that he isn’t American. They did the same thing to Kerry, and Gore, and Clinton, and Dukakis---just not quite so overtly.

Adam Smith, the bespoken deity of the Right, would have endorsed this NYTimes editorial, because he understood that the true enemy of Capitalism isn’t Socialism—it’s Monopoly. And that’s what banks too big to fail are homing in on.

But it’s fitting that the GOP has perverted its core beliefs so much that often not much more than the names are left. It has become, philosophically, a big hollow shell, whose only principle now is to obediently rage against anything that might even slightly constrain the richest 1/2 percent of Americans.

Look at the right wing rants about business regulation in the right wing blogosphere. Aren’t most of them consistent with what I’ve laid out here?


Anonymous said...

I first saw this as a comment on the NY Times website. I totally agree. Modern conservatives have drug the ideas put forth by Adam Smith to right beyond anything he envisioned. Adam Smith did not hate government, and in fact identified many roles for government that modern conservatives eschew. among many of these roles is the need of government to be a rulemaker in the marketplace to ensure fairness. Until we rid this nation of the notion of GOP conservatism things will not improve. People are too brainwashed and those in financial power are the great benefactors of this system. An dumb blue dogs do not stand up to these robber barons.

Sean said...

I find it ironic that while this post begins by identifying less-than-desirable platforms adopted by the GOP, it still acknowledges the consistent tribal nature of humans. I'd like to point out something fairly obvious: People tend to band together (become tribal, if you will) as they face a common threat. This effect is even more pronounced when the threat is more pronounced.

Now, how many people honestly believe that the U.S. is primarily comprised of the 'right wingers’ and 'lefties', with nothing else in the center? Yet, many news agencies (Fox, NYTimes, for example) are quick to point fingers at the 'other side' while attempting to demonstrate intellectual/moral/logical superiority. This type of tribal behavior is like a cancer at the heart of the United States. The tribal nature of humans might be useful in some circumstances, but when something like effective bank regulation is up for discussion, it's cut off at the knees in a highly partisan shouting match. Logical discussion gets crushed in interest of militantly defending one’s side.

In this respect, I feel that polarizing news agencies are worse than the apparently deeply-hated rich minority that controls the GOP puppet. While the masses become enthralled by a phantom rift in the United States, there are 3 groups I can think of that profit from this bickering. The left media, the right media, and those that stand to lose if some legislation is passed (pick your favorite interest group). The rest of us, i.e. the majority of Americans, end up suffering. Not only do we have to endure varying levels of media frenzy, which ranges from a rolling boil to an all-out hateful blitz, but otherwise level-headed Americans are rowled up into a frenzy against the "other side".

This effect is disgusting, and I sincerely believe it to be the primary reason our government moves slower than molasses. Yes, checks and balances are good, but what we're seeing is anything but civil, anything but productive, and certainly anything but an effective system of checks and balances.

So, when entries such as this are published, I can only wonder if you truly think you're preaching to anyone else but the choir. Sure, you'll get some nodding heads, and maybe even some applause. Congratulations, you've just isolated your tribe a little more.