*** America Eats Her Young
With all those Democratic candidates longing for the day when George W. Bush returns to Crawford, Texas, Democrats can congratulate themselves as they watch the Republican candidates scramble to succeed their leader. They hope for a Democratic landslide in the next election.
But so far, none of the candidates has indicated an understanding of the political realities in America at this exact time in history.
They find themselves in a dilemma, hoping somehow the Administration will fail, in both foreign and domestic policy, yet hoping somehow that America won't. Pipe dreams. If they go down, we go down with them. And so it has become unpatriotic, not only to disagree with going to war, but to suggest we are in a recession or to question the Justice Department's methods in the War on Terror. Squelching criticism doesn't fix Iraq or the economy. The reality is, public confidence in American business is at its lowest point in decades. As much as anything, this loss of confidence is due to the machinations of Big American Business and our "corruption friendly" government.We watched with dismay when the Iraqis looted their own national treasures. We clucked and said they couldn't handle freedom.
But how about us? We have enough corporate criminality going on that we will never get around to prosecuting it all. State and federal attorneys spend most of their time trying to track down cheating, fraud, theft, misappropriation of funds, and dishonesty in general. We have elected representatives and leaders who enrich themselves and their sponsors and remain entrenched in a beltway power base as incumbents until they are satiated and ready to pass their racket on to a hand picked successor.
With the close ties between business and government, we shouldn't be surprised that the leaders and trendsetters in both are above the rules the rest of us have to play by. The result is the personal enrichment of politicians and executives and the fleecing of customers and constituents.
Republicans have spent the last two decades selling the fabrication that they represent the ideal of smaller, less intrusive government: A smaller burden in the form of lower taxes and in the form of fewer bureaucratic government regulations. It was a learning experience to watch the Republican-inspired recall election in California. The state's 28 billion dollar deficit was more a product of federal funding cuts to the state than anything Gray Davis had done or not done; further, the soaring energy prices and blackouts in California can be traced straight to Enron, courtesy of the Deregulation King, Dick Cheney. This is the same Enron whose CEO, Ken Lay, not only stole billions, but also helped formulate this administration's energy policy in secret. Predictably, it is an energy policy that consists largely of the same deregulation schemes that created an Enron.
The Bush administration has increased spending far beyond that required to cope with the new reality after September 11. The new record deficit is reminiscent of Reaganomics, the twelve-year nightmare of working people and small business when we learned without a doubt that "trickle down" economics does not work.Government's intrusion into our lives, from the Republican perspective, is when regulations that protect the consumer, the environment, or even the marketplace, reduce their profits. They sing a different tune, however, when it comes to making us urinate in bottles for drug testing, the "no-knock" and "zero tolerance" policies, and the current erosion of the Bill of Rights in the name of fighting terrorism.
Since Reagan, Republicans have made "government regulation" and their own derisive label for everybody else: "liberal" into pornographic words, not just among the rich capitalists who profit from its absence, but even among their traditional adversaries, working people and small entrepreneurs. Quite a feat! My college political science book had a name for the kind of government you have when Business (with a capital B) owns the government, controls the government, IS the government: Fascism.
Supposedly outdated with the decline of the axis powers, this political beast reared its ugly head again in the cold war struggle against Communism and now threatens our democratic system. The fascist state is the antithesis of government regulation; but our government was once the protector of the small businessman, the blue collar worker, the poor, all those without a political voice. Forty-seven states have massive shortfalls in their budgets, but few place the blame where it belongs: funding cuts to states by the Republican administration. The onus is on the Bush administration for those cuts--mostly in education and health care. We need to return to the belief that there are some things more important than the percentage of profit or the bottom line.
There are some government services that will not turn profits and that cannot be measured by numbers. A good example is education. It is difficult to measure increase of GNP as connected to educational initiatives, but this must not prevent us from enacting desperately needed educational reforms. In politics as in business, we have to change the system. A political process that favors the incumbent, the wealthy and the big contributor becomes a monolith that cannot be breached. A climate that favors big business and causes the decline of small enterprise and a rise in unemployment casts a shadow on the future of free enterprise. If we want to continue to live in a free economy and a democratic nation, we have to control corporate excess, scrap the electoral system, recall the congress, elect a third party president, flush out the Neocons and return to a constitutional government. Is it too late?
Since our political system is weighted against an Independent party, and given Democrats' failure to focus on the critical issues and their obsession with trivialities while the Republican right has stolen the American political process, and, given that Democratic "leaders" seem oblivious to the fact that their party has become irrelevant? Yeah, it's probably too late. ***