Archive for May 2008

Republicans Running on Empty

You have to hand it to the Republicans.  Their basic philosophy is almost irresistible.  People need make no sacrifices ever.  First of all government is the problem not the solution so we make government smaller.  Now that is a good thing because we are going to cut taxes and that will stimulate the economy and there will actually be more revenue in the federal/state coffers.  See another free ride.  You can see why you have to love this.  Now with smaller government we have less regulation of business so they can grow and prosper.  Oh this is just great.  No paper work and you can do what you want.  And not to worry about our big problems like energy, because the marketplace is the cheapest and most efficient place to solve all problems.  Just let the marketplace work its wonders.  If the people have a need and there is money to be made, the marketplace will just sweep in and correct all evils.  Finally, if you work hard you will get ahead.  It’s perfect.  All you have to do is work hard on whatever you want, get government out of your life, pay little or no taxes, and the world will be a perfect place.  But they have been in power for 12 years, eight of those in the executive and things are not hunky dory.  What happened?

Well I was listening to Republicans the other day and they seem to think their representatives have lost their way and all that we need is to get back to basics.  These bozos they have elected to Congress got too enthralled with power and they violated their basic philosophy and started spending like there was no tomorrow.  Then they invited the religious right in and their problem is that they want government to enforce their view of morality which is more and bigger government with a listening device in your bedroom and in your hospital room.  So if we could just jettison all these bozos and get back to basics everything would be fine.  Maybe John McCain is that guy.  Oh were life just so simple.

Let’s take the assumptions one at a time.  Government is the problem.  No it is not.  Think back to our founding.  They knew they needed government, so they created one by the people and for the people.  Government was not the problem, it was the solution to founding our country.  And it is not the problem today.  It’s only the problem when it is miss used and abused like it has been in the last 20 years.  The problems that face these Republicans who want to reduce government require major government action.  Let’s see, they want safe drugs but they cut the FDA.  They want protection and rescue from hurricanes like Katrina but they gut FEMA and they appoint idiots to run it.  They want safe borders, but they won’t fund the necessary enforcement.  They want good education, but they won’t vote to fund schools properly.  They want safe and efficient transportation systems, but they cut FAA and gut the transportation bills.  It is not less government you want, it is smarter government.  Could that be a new paradigm for Republicans?
Next is cutting taxes will stimulate the economy.  Well for sure too high taxes stymies business and investment, but too low taxes breaks the bank and does not provide government the capital for investment in the infrastructure that is the engine for a vibrant economy.  Our infrastructure is falling apart.  The rest of the world has universal health care and we can’t afford it.  Maybe there is a balance and cutting taxes is not necessarily the economic stimulus that everyone thought.   During the Clinton years taxes went up and the economy was unaffected.  Maybe the new paradigm is that there needs to be a balance and we are way out of balance as our debt increases and the Republican solution is to further cut taxes.  You think?

Innovation in the marketplace will solve all our problems and is the most efficient way to innovate.  Do you think the train system was built on private money?  Where do you think the land came from for the rails?  The interstate highway system did not come from business seeing a need.  Sure business will innovate, but look at the drug companies, better known as innovation out of control.  They will invent a drug and if there is not a need for it, they will invent one through advertising and our drugs cost more than anywhere else in the world.  The energy problem won’t be solved by the marketplace.  Who do you think is going to invest in the vast infrastructure necessary to support a new energy system?  The problem with assuming the marketplace will innovate new solutions is to overlook the vested interest, not to mention the fortunes being made, in the status quo.  The marketplace has its role, but it is only part and parcel of a partnership with government.  The world is changing and the large profits that support R&D in corporations don’t exist in a global marketplace.  Government has to play its part.  Should we just wait and let the marketplace sort out the mortgage crisis, which by the way, was the result of unfettered business and greed.  Maybe regulation is not such a bad thing.  Maybe there is a balance between letting the marketplace operate and the role of government in that marketplace.  Maybe the new paradigm is that in a global economy the winners are those that form partnership with their governments for the good of all their citizens.

Finally if you just work hard you will get ahead.  I am sure that is what Paris Hilton tells herself everyday.  Some people work incredibly hard but because of their circumstances, their earning ability will always be limited.  Shouldn’t government have a role in leveling the playing field?  Someday it would be nice to think that all things being equal, if you work hard you will be rewarded, but the reality today for many is that this is a pipe dream.  But our goal should be that all have an equal chance and then the cream will rise to surface and we will really all be better for it.  But until then, government has a role in leveling the playing field by providing education opportunities for all, needed healthcare, and a minimum living wage for the lower end so they can have a chance on the playing field that favors the wealthy.

So there you have it.  Republican ideology sounds great but we are in a mess and getting back to basics doesn’t address the real and urgent problems of our future.  What John McCain and the Republicans offer is more tax cuts, less government, less regulation, at a time when everything around us tells us these policies have caused most of the problems we face.  But on the other hand, it requires no sacrifice and promises you a free ride while things get better. Trouble is it just makes you feel better while your life disintegrates around you. Kind of like drugs isn’t it?  Personally I think it’s time for going cold turkey.