The truths we used to hold to be self-evident are so two centuries ago. We’ve got new truths now, conceived in think tanks and dedicated to the proposition that rich people need more money. Government is the problem. Taxes are bad. Regulation needs to get out of the way of business. And this will lead to prosperity. That’s the narrative we’re being sold, and a whole lot of us are buying.
How’s that working out for us?
A few of us are very prosperous indeed. Many of us are much worse off. The middle class has declined. Our natural world is despoiled and its systems on the verge of collapse. Our resources are dwindling. We’ve been at war for years, and we’re barking for new wars.
This isn’t my notion of prosperity.
Maybe what they’re selling us is fake goods. Maybe government and taxes and regulation aren’t really the problem after all. Maybe it’s time to yank the narrative back, by telling the truth.
What is this nasty old Government, anyway? Well, we’re trying an amazing experiment here. We declared we are the government: we the people. We gave limited power to those we elected to represent us. We have banded together to achieve for ourselves that which we cannot achieve on our own. Do we want clean water and clean air? Do we want safe food and educated children? Do we want to provide for our defense sensibly? Do we want to share the donuts or give them all to the fat guy? We’re in charge. If we’re not getting what we want, it’s up to us to change things.
But we’re easily swayed. We’re hanging onto all these myths from back when we could head out and homestead all the land we could steal. We’re rugged individualists; we’re cowboys. We think we can do just fine for ourselves if The Government would just leave us alone. But there are more than 320 million of us cowboys now and no place left to dump the trash. We need to be careful.
So the next time someone goes full Bundy on us and declares the government the enemy and demands that the land be given back to We The People [sic], remember that government land is our land, and the people who want it for their own purposes–to run cattle on, or mine, or drill, or clear–do not care about ours.
Regulation? It’s not there to thwart enterprise. It’s there to do an accounting of the true costs of business. Go ahead and grow your business as much as you want, but you don’t get to skate on the garbage bill. If you pollute, or you endanger, or enslave, or misrepresent, or cheat, you have to answer to us. Regulation means your bottom line might be somewhere different from where you’d like it, but we’re all under the same sky, and someone’s always downstream. There’s a cost to everything, and if we run our economy without accounting for all of it, we’re letting pirate ships sail away with our treasure.
So we regulate. When we strip away regulations, we give more to those who have too much already, while we pick up the tab. When we lower everyone’s taxes, we discover ourselves without what we need, just to further enrich those who need nothing.
Do we want clean drinking water at the tap? Then that is something we should keep in the commons. We hire people to make it happen–they’re called government workers–and we pay them. Government workers are not our enemies. They’re the people we pay to do the things we want done, that we can’t do by ourselves, at no profit.
Right now, the shrink-the-government crowd prefers to use our taxes to pay private outfits to do the things we want, so they can profit. Water. Power. Prisons. Schools. Even our war-making is delegated to mercenaries, with Blackwater and Halliburton raking in the billions. The already-wealthy want ever more of our treasure, and that’s who’s running the show.
That’s because a few people with great wealth have an outsized effect on what happens in our name. But it doesn’t have to be so. We are the people, and if our government is not doing what we want, we can change it. Our power is in our numbers, and our will, if we exercise it.
What could we accomplish if we banded together? Could we be as powerful as Walmart?
Walmart, the largest private employer in the world, became the behemoth it is by hacking the middle class off at the knees. It arranged for products to be made in low-wage countries with low environmental standards, and then insisted our local manufacturers cut wages and benefits or lose their market. They led the charge to the bottom. Their prices were so low they wiped out smaller local businesses. Now they are so powerful that they can bargain for lower pharmaceutical prices and everyone thinks that’s a good thing. But we the people can do that too. If we the people got together to provide for our own medical care by adopting single-payer insurance, we could negotiate our own drug prices and the costs of our procedures.
True, the for-profit insurance and pharmaceutical industries would take a huge hit. True, we wouldn’t enable six human beings named Walton to have more wealth than the bottom 40% of the American people. But we’d have health care.
History is littered with evidence of non-human electoral candidates. I think Pootie would do just fine. Better bear-faced truths than bare-faced lies.
Or, in his case, dog-faced. (But he gets that all the time.)
Heartfelt apologies to Pootie! I guess my error proves that folk vote for the political animal they think they know… which might explain a few things.
Pootie don't mind. He doesn't care for "bunny," though.
So right, Murr! But it will probably never happen, since the majority of the people seem to be either stupid or gullible… and in any case, they are too busy being amused by their smartphones to bother about a little thing called Reality. Times like these make me glad that I am older and do not have to spend much more time witnessing our moribundity.
Yeah. It really is that bad.
Well said, all of it.
I do think the majority of Americans do not think government is the enemy…but it will be if it continues to be run by billionaires with an agenda instead of experts in the field. You have written it well.
It's interesting how one of the things they're trying to sell is that private companies are always better and more efficient than government entities, even though there are so many examples where they louse it all up and walk away while the taxpayer assumes the risk and doesn't share the profit; so they starve the government until it CAN'T do well, and say, "See?"
I love you, Murr. Thank you for writing the important things so well.
I love you too, Nance! And see? You commented!
I think you run for presidency with your ideals…we need thinkers in office i.e. think about the people, environment, neighbors, land, infrastructure…where are we headed and what do we need to do?
Even if I wanted to run for office (GACK), I think we need younger people in there. Younger than a lot of the candidates people are proposing.
Too right! I live in Delaware, and I love Joe Biden. But he is fucking old! Really a hell of a nice guy… but we need someone who might actually live out the election, let alone the term of office. Hillary is getting up there in years, also, plus she just has such an abrasive manner. We need another Obama. I mean, he came out of nowhere, it seems, and won. Doesn't matter the race or gender. We need someone young who can win. And, I'm sorry, but none of this third-party bullshit. It only puts the conservatives in office. (Thanksss so much Ralph Nader and Bernie Sanders. You must be proud.)
I want someone in his or her forties. Maybe like the last one we had.
Well said. When we look back on this disaster, I hope that we'll be able to say,this was the time we all took back our country and stopped the rule of capitalism in its tracks, kicked out the leader who capitalists bought, and started to build a country where our everyone would get an equal chance to have a healthy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
And maybe stopped the destruction of the oceans and air and things like that. It's a long shot, but…
Nailed it,Murr! We have to get this message out to the younger generations before it's too late and that won't be long at this rate. We can still make some noise, but not like we did forty or fifty years ago. We don't have much time to fix this.
No we don't. I think there are more young kids who have the right idea than our age.
You make so much sense Murr, but the only way politicians will see this is if they and their families have to live 100% the way a poor person does for a couple of years, with no access to their previous funds and perks.
There are many good politicians out there–I don't see many Republicans–however all of them need to whore themselves out to the moneyed interests to get anywhere at all. I do hate to hear people decry both sides as the same because of this fact. They're not the same. And no one's gotten the money out of politics yet.
not necessarily politicians, but whoever it is that is pulling the strings. Let them live poorly for a while and find out for themselves what really matters.
It would be a good exercise. Things that should teach empathy have a way of not, though.
Murr for President!
Hush yore mout'!
I wonder what would happen if they lowered the age for Medicare by one year, to 64. Then, in another couple years, lower it to 63, and so on. That gives all those people in the insurance sector time to relocate and retrain to screwing people in a different industry, like car insurance. Or politics.
Kind of slow–but yeah!
plain, eloquent and true. I'll share it on my FB page. Thanks
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