Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Government Is Not the Problem

Here's the truth:  governments make mistakes sometime.

Government, like all things, is not perfect.

And when government botches things up, it generally botches things up disasterously.

Especially when the Republicans are in charge.  No, seriously, a study was done regarding events which the government completely and totally messed up on, and the Republicans lead the Democrats for incompetent management of government by a ratio of 4:1.

And of course, government is not the proper solution to all problems, and is hardly ever the entire solution to anything.

Here's more truth for you:  the government is the only entity large enough and powerful enough to handle certain issues.  It is the only entity large enough and powerful enough to stand up to, and stop, the abuses of democracy and other American ideals by those who would attempt to dominate, subjugate, and explot the interests of We the People...   In this sense, the government, especially at the federal level, is very definitely the ultimate solution.

There is a long tradition in this country of carping about the government.  And its not just this government, either.  I'm absolutely certain that somewhere, sometime, way back in Ancient Mesopotamia, somebody was complaining about Sargon the Great and how his administration was doing nothing to assuage the troubles faced by the common man.  Of course, before the rise of modern democracy, those who complained about government generally were those who had been disenfranchised somehow.  The poor and the downtrodden.  The outlaws.  The political enemies.  Because prior to democracy, the rich and the powerful loved the government.  After all, they were the government.

For the poor, it was generally wise to keep your complaints about how the local lord was running his fiefdom to yourself unless you had a real need to discover what torture and execution felt like.  This all changed with Democracy.  First with the United States, then with France, and then slowly with the rest of the world.  Suddenly the age-old tradition of government being the plaything of the rich and powerful was completely flipped.  Democratic governments were controlled, at least theoretically, by We the People...

Unfortunately, this didn't sit well with government's former owners.  They knew that this "democracy" fad had to go, and so they came up with two basic strategies.  First, they tried to buy it back.  Politicians, judges, and public officials of all stripes were generally quite amenable to this idea, selling their time, attention, and loyalty, not to mention their honesty and integrity, to the highest bidder.  But it wasn't enough.  Try as they might, the rich and powerful couldn't ever seen to fully complete their conquest of the government and all those pesky We the People... who weren't interested in just standing back and letting the rich take over again.  So they came up with a second, complimentary strategy.  The second strategy involved dividing and conquering.  If the rich could persuade a bare majority of the really stupid poor people to go along with them, they could tighten their grip on the reins of power.

There are a lot of ways to divide.  Race and religion are the two greatest hits when it comes to causing a population to eat itself, and boy howdy were these put to good use by the rich and powerful in their efforts to divide We the People...  Concurrent with the rise of democracy, however, came a new tactic:  promoting active distrust of the government, so as to lessen its legitimacy.  It also lessened the people's sense of ownership of the government.  A disenchanted and apathetic citizenry, one that doesn't think government works, and doesn't think their vote counts, will tune out the entire subject of politics.  They will not show up at polling places, and thus not exercise their power of control over the government.  This gives a much wider opportunity for the rich and powerful to grab control with only a small percentage of the voters helping them to do it.

This tactic is pure evil.

No, seriously, it's evil.  It's evil because it intentionally risks driving the entire country into the ground.  The wisest leaders know that citizens loving and believing in their government is crucial to the strength and well-being of the entire nation.  Conservatives are willing to abuse this ancient axiom to gain political and economic power.  They rationalize it away by saying that it is they, the rich and powerful, who have always had the "divine right to rule."  But the truth is, they have no interest whatsoever in a nation "for the people, by the people, and of the people."  What they want is a return to the "good old days" when there was no democracy.

With the faith of We the People... in their government wrecked, the rich and powerul can do whatever they want.  They can slash taxes on themselves while increasing taxes on the poor and middle class.  They can deregulate their giant, predatory businesses.  They can write laws and appoint judges who will favor them.  They can loot the treasury.  They can start wars all over the globe.  They can propagate their fundamental philosophy, that "greed is good."  They become what they most crave to be:  rulers of the world.  You know that the ruination of America is not far off when such a philosophy, as utterly lacking in any sort of virtue as it is, gains the upper hand.  The less We the People... believe in their government, the weaker they are, and the better the rich and powerful like it.

The people in the lower and middle classes who support these corporate oligarchs in their take-over of the United States are those who share some of the anger and bitterness of governmental control over their "freedoms."  Again, just as with the rich and powerful, it is their "traditional values" that they believe are being threatened by the government.  These "freedoms", these "traditional values", are things like the freedom to discriminate, the freedom to be as prejudiced and hateful as they want to be.  The freedom to force other people to live as they do.  The freedom to suppress books and movies and television shows and music they don't like.  Those are the freedoms and traditional values we're talking about.  And this is why social conservatives buy into the "government is the problem" bullshit.  They see government spreading and enabling equality, liberty, justice for all, and the pursuit of happiness -- in other words, government trying to live up to its own ideals -- they see government spreading scientific knowledge rather than religious ignorance, and modernity and multi-culturalism being applied to the art of governance, and they dont like it at all.


Because all of this chips away at the advantages and privileges they have enjoyed for generations.  The actual or perceived loss of being special infuriates them.  Thus, they become willing henchmen for the siren's call of the rich and powerful:  "government bad!" which allows the oligarchs to steal the government away from We the People...

Of course, the concept that "the government is the problem" is a great big lie.

Even the most cursory glance into the history of the United States reveals this idea to be nothing more than a myth.  We the People of the United States, organized into our shared objectives in the form of the federal government, has achieved more in the last 238 years (as of this writing) than the rest of humanity has in the last thousand.  The progress that we, Americans, created has stunned, amazed, and revolutionized the world in ways that cannot be overlooked, ignored, and dismissed.  I may rail about unnecessary military adventurism, but I also have to admit that from the Continental Army all the way up to today, the American military has also been the world's policemen, and the world likes it that way.  From Lewis and Clark all the way up to the Apollo astronauts, Americans have led the world in courage, fortitude, and character when it comes to revealing new worlds of wonder.  Federally funded scientists have led the way in virtually all areas of science.  America's national parks are the envy of the world.  Our dams and bridges and interstate highway system was once one of the crowning achievements of mankind.  The American Post Office still is the benchmark by which all other such services around the world are measured.  When calamity strikes anywhere in the world, it is to the United States that people look to for aid.  Even people who just hours before were badmouthing the government cry for federal help when their world comes crashing down around them.  Oh yeah, and one more thing.

You know that internet thing that everyone talks about?  The one you're using right now?

It was invented, created, and initially funded by the US government.

And even more important than these triumphs were the times when the government was all that stood between some part of American culture and the corruption of our ideals.  When this happens, not everyone is happy with the government, especially those people who are asked -- forced sometimes -- to back down and let other people live as they want.  When a group of people takes a particular dislike to what another group of people are saying, or doing, or even just thinking, and move to actively stop them, it is the federal government whose job it is to stand in the way of the onrushing horde and say, "No.  They have a right to their freedoms just as you do, and your not liking them is no excuse."

Equality.  Justice.  Liberty for all.  The pursuit of happiness.  That's what its all about.

There are those out there who would love to thwart these ideals for other Americans, simply because they don't like the other Americans.  It is the job of the federal government to stand in the way and say, "No."

Racists don't like being told they had to treat black people and Hispanic people and other minorities like human beings.  Chauvenists don't like being told that they have to treat women as equals.  Homophobes don't like being told that they have to be forced to treat gay people as human beings.  Religious zealots don't like being told they have to tolerate people who believe differently than they do.  Polluters don't like being told they have to protect the environment.  Banks don't like being told that they can't run the economy like it was a casino.  Insurance companies don't like being told they can't deny their customers treatment or cancel their customers at will.

People even bitch about such petty things as having to wear their seatbelts or wear a motorcycle helmet.  It's always something.  There is no limit to the carping and griping and bitching that goes on about the government.

Sometimes the griping is warranted, such as the backlash against the Bush administration's utter failure to properly prepare and manage the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  For their failure to properly prepare for or react to Hurricane Katrina.  For the housing bubble, the bank bailouts, and, eventually, pretty much everything about the George W. Bush administration.  Still, its a long way from recognizing that one particular segment of the government, at one time, was really, really bad at governing to believing that all government, everywhere, is bad.

Study American history and you find that government actually works pretty well, and more virtuously, when its allowed to govern.  When it doesn't face a lot of interference from conservative business interests.  When the conservatives are in charge, they see to work to make sure their own negative prophecies regarding the "failure of government" come true.  The conservatives make the messes, the liberals then have to fight tooth and nail to clean those same messes up, while simultaneously being blamed by the conservatives for the messes they are cleaning.

So yeah.  The old saw about government being the problem is a huge lie.

Unless, of course, you're talking about a conservative-controlled government. 

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