Friday, June 11, 2010

The problem is big government! Really?

A commentor on a NYTimes forum said:

Government creates nothing, produces nothing. Controlling deficits ought to start with a radical reduction in government programs and government workers. The government (federal and state in particular) is full of redundancy, inefficienct [sic] and waste. Worse yet, government oftens [sic] creates dependence on government - the opposite of self-reliance and innovation. Government makes us poorer and weaker.

This is the libertarian mantra.

So let's start by firing the Minerals Management bureaucracy, which oversees oil rig safety. After all, the oil companies have told us they'll self-regulate, because it's not in their own interest to have massive oil rig failures that will pollute the shorelines and fisheries of half a dozen states for generations, because that would mean they're short-sighted and mindlessly greedy. Which is just Communist propaganda. Everyone knows that Fortune 500 boardrooms are bastions of Chri$tianity. Er, I mean Christianity.

Now you might say Well, that particular bureaucracy was incompetent, weren't they? After all, they didn't prevent the most massive oil rig failure in American history.

To which I'd say we're looking at the consequences of the most thorough deregulatory pogram since the Robber Baron era. Bush II gutted the regulatory bureaucracy, starving them of funds, staffing them with cronies, having the industries write their own regulations, and removing the government's internal controls--you know, the ones designed to prevent regulators from being bribed or otherwise suborned by the industries they're tasked with regulating.

And it's not like President Obama can fire all those Republican cronies. For one thing, it's not easy to fire federal employees other than direct political appointees. The supposed nonpartisan, permanent jobs Bush filled with people whose qualifications were rock-ribbed Republican credentials such as opposition to abortion--you can't just fire those people.

And it's a lot easier and quicker to kick over a castle made of wooden blocks than to rebuild it.

Now let's go back to our libertarian's opening salvo: "Government creates nothing, produces nothing."

You could say the same of Wall Street. Once created to provide a source of capital for manufacturers, it now exists for the profit of the Masters of the Universe through manipulating money, while companies large and small desperately seek funding sources once supplied by Wall Street.

And the companies themselves, absent regulation, have used the quickest road to profits: fire the American workers and move the manufacturing to China and elsewhere. They're still manufacturers, but they aren't American manufacturers. They're foreign manufacturers with American headquarters. Such companies "create nothing, produce nothing" that benefits Americans.

Sure, you pay less for goods you buy by buying Chinese ones at Walmart...out of your unemployment check.

Woo hoo.

The libertarians can't face the fact that business not controlled by government (that is, us) comes to control government (witness the Bush II years). Whoever gains the upper hand in a competitive environment uses that upper hand to destroy his competitors. The natural outcome of all unregulated business environments is monopoly, followed by ruthless exploitation of ordinary citizens.

Now it's equally true that unchecked government becomes the monopoly, turning to self-dealing and a singular focus on preservation of incumbency.

The only hope the little guy has is government strong enough to keep business in check, and business strong enough to keep government in check, with transparency enough to let us keep both in check.

You can't abolish power. There is always power. The only question is who has it. Taking power away from government, by itself, just hands it over to anything-but-free enterprise.

That is, the real enemy of capitalism isn't communism--it's crony capitalism. Pickpockets work in teams, with a distractor and a lifter. Communist governments and crony capitalist "governments" each acts as each other's distractor, while the lifter--be it the crony capitalist or the communist--rummages around in citzens' wallets while we stare in horror at the proffered boogeyman. Soviet-era Russians were just as horrified about the Capitalist Menace as we were by the Red Menace.

I can't believe I have to say all this after the Bush II reign and its disastrous consequences, but the Billionaire's Club's propaganda machine has convinced at least a third of the voters that up is down, black is white, and the only problem with the Bush II era is that they didn't completely destroy government instead of just crippling it.


Dominick said...


Trying to email you directly, but don't see how, in response to your comment on NYT op-ed "Two Weddings, a Divorce and Glee".
First off, let me say that I'm impressed by your blog. You're putting a lot of time into writing your entries and you write well.

As far as your comment on the NYT op-ed, I wanted to respond with the following two observations/thoughts:

1) 'Gay' marriage, better thought of as marriage between two gay men or gay women, is only possibly a civil marriage. In other words, the issue has nothing to do with what various religions do vis-a-vis marriage. One goes to the court to get civilly married. There's a lot of confusion about this.

At issue is whether two gay men or two gay women can get married under the law. As you rightly point out, they are already married in certain churches before god, for those who believe in that.

You offended me and other gay people when you suggested that children would be better placed with straight married couples. Children don't need to look to parents for proper gender roles. Gays do not represent gender roles that children shouldn't want to emulate. Here you are simply thinking that you don't want a boy to become effeminate like a gay dad he might have, if that gay dad were in fact effeminate (a minority of gays).

As it turns out, what we should be worried about is the case in which a boy would have a father who would model an overly sterotypical macho male role, thoughtless and uncaring.

In short, your position runs the risk of shading into a 'slippery slope' of sorts where you'd eventually be saying that being raised by two gay parents, one of which being the biological parent, would be less desirable. This would be used to argue for termination of parental rights.

I think that since you live in CA, and for other reasons, you are quite unaware of how bad things can be in certain states. I live in NC, and nearby (Miss, I think) there are men who can't have visitation with their own children by previous straight marriage because they now live as the gay men that they are (They should have been out to themselves and others before entering a false straight marriage, true, but the pressure against doing so is fierce since the negative consequences as imposed are extremely costly, something far too few straight people consider, imho.)

So, I guess I'd say that your comment doesn't move things forward much. It's already true that govt doesn't tell religions whom to marry or not. It's untrue that children up for adoption are better placed with straight couples, and, finally, that certain religions don't wish to marry itself needs to be challenged for more than one reason, not the least of which is that being gay is not an example of satanic possession, but, rather the way that I along with other gays simply are. God, if one believes, wouldn't ask that we suppress or lie and enter a fake marriage (and supress) for he is good. He asks that we seek and find our life mate, just as you've found yours, and to then bind with that life mate through marriage.

BTW: Group of children of gay parents = Collage (on internet)

Ehkzu said...

Note to readers: Dominick's comment was actually intended for the entry above this, about gay marriage, so I put a copy of it there, along with my response.