May 22, 2010

God, Gays, and Guns.... And, Government...

Remember Bobby Jindal's response to president Obama's first State of the Union address?  Why do we spend millions of taxpayer money to monitor volcanoes, he asked, and that there's nothing Americans can't do on their own!  Then a volcano erupted... I'm sure you've heard of the recent oily mess off the coast of several states whose voters think Jindal's view of an impotent state is right on the money.

The conservatives keep saying that the marketplace can take care of the bad actors in it. Yeah, right. They say that bad, unsafe practices will be punished by the consumers and the court system. Of course, this doesn't happen because we know it hasn't! Bad practices, including illegalities aren't necessarily bad for business. Especially BIG business. Wall Street gambles, screws up, and what happens? Too big to fail comes to my mind. 

The people in charge of making decisions are rewarded with huge bonuses and golden parachutes. Their companies are "too big to fail" we're told. Often the end result is: privatizing the profit and socializing the risk. Capitalism for most of the people, socialism for the rich.

The government should be the expression of the public will and it should act in the interest of the people not the few elites. Guess what? The conservative rhetoric has managed to disorient too many Americans who believe "government takeover" means less freedom! Obviously, government is not the solution to everything. Nor, that the government cannot be abusive. Yes, it can. 

Yet, in an advanced democracy the government's role is to empower and protect. Who really needs this? The marketplace can't do this. Equality of opportunity, safety (workplace and individual), and consumer protection have not come because private business saw it fit to do so.  It came through collective action and government passing laws often in the face of visceral opposition from the big business interests and their political ally--the US Republican Party (20th century on).

Who should protect the public interest in the month-long ecological & economic disaster of the BP oil leak? Guess whose interests are served when the government regulators are absent. Or, that the law (passed with the help of lobbyists) limits the oil industry's liabilities to a few million dollars?  And, why did the oil industry got huge tax breaks (while the government failed to collect royalties for it) while it was making record profits?

The T-baggers are angry at government in general--and some of their anger is justified--but their anger is only matched by their misunderstandings & misconceptions. We need better government that serves the commonwealth, not the interests of those who have lots and want more.

By the way, who's going to protect me from the gun-totting tots who want to walk around and go into coffee shops, restaurants and bars professing their Second Amendment rights? I thought we left behind the Old West lawless frontier, and we decided that a civil society has found other means to protect itself than having everyone carry guns everywhere.

Yeah, God, Gays, and Guns...  {who said this?...}