Thursday, July 14, 2011

"Rupert Repents" Conversation

In response to my previous message, "Rupert Repents, or Why we need Government,"  a student wrote me:

I think anyone who says "the government doesn't help me" is either speaking in a very general term, or is a moron. What the guy pointed out is fine, and I don't think that's the hot issue. From what I know, no one has asked to quit building roads, quit producing power, quit producing water, cut police and fire, etc. Those are seemingly the very things that government wants to take FROM! You don't hear "Let's cut back PERS, and governor salaries, presidential salaries, congress salaries!". Although I can't say for certain but I have a feeling that I do more work each year than many politicians do, I'm not say all, or even most, but many; yet they receive decent (even BIG) salaries and perks that most mortal men would LOVE to have! (I could be wrong on that, but that's just a feeling/perception I have.) Anyway, I digress...

My main thought of the article was that it was pretty shallow, didn't really dig into "serious" or even "controversial" issues that are ACTUALLY being discussed. Or the other option is that I'm misinformed, which is possible!

My response:

... The whole libertarian movement is about holding government to the minimum and attracts people who take themselves to be sovereign as individuals. See the Libertarian Party Platform. Joel Salatin, self-described ""Christian-libertarian-environmentalist-capitalist-​lunatic-Farmer" is typical of this viewpoint.

Trust me: in the name of efficiency, cost effectiveness and free markets, I have heard people argue for the privatization of social security, and/or prisons and/or schools and/or utilities and/or police and fire departments. (Just do a google search, "privatization + fill in the blank, and you'll see what I mean. ) For example, The Ludwig von Mises Institute (an extremely influential think tank ) promotes the privatization of roads and highways! (See this)

Part of the reason we are in the economic mess we are in is because of the financial degregulation of the financial sector. (See this and this.)

I grant you that politicians are a lot of the problem. Unfortunately, if we conflate politicians with government (as many people seem to be doing) we will be in worse shape than before. That is why I think it is important to be reminded of the positive things government does. If we are upset with politicians, we should also be upset with CEOs and multinational businesses that buy them off, and only care for their own profit, at the expense of the middle class. (See this.)

1 comment:

Kent W. said...

The "Rupert Repents" post seems a little disjointed. I'm having trouble understanding the actions you are refering to that might constitute repentance or damage control.

In reference to your student's comments: "From what I know, no one has asked to quit building roads, quit producing power, quit producing water, cut police and fire, etc. Those are seemingly the very things that government wants to take FROM!"

The reason government appears to want to cut these essential services is because as the pressure from reduced revenue increases, most everything else is protected by special interests (corporate or military, etc.) or by legal entitlement (social security, medicare, etc.) The salaries and retirement benefits you refer to, while sometimes annoyingly extreme are really a minor part of the big picture. You would think if conservatives and libertarians really wanted to deal with the big waste, thay would want to curb the corporate influence and the self perpetuating military/industrial complex, but everything they do only serves to give those interests more power, money, and influence. That's why I fear the 'Tea Party' folks are just being used by powerful interests for their own purposes.

As far as 'entitlements' are concerned, most Americans seem to agree that social security and medicare are important and desirable programs. At the same time the rhetoric of anti-taxation, by the libertarians and the corporate interests, has fostered a climate of short-term self-interest which is in conflict with the need to fund those programs sufficiently. This manipulation serves the libertarians' interest in eliminating these important safety net programs by making it seem that we just cant afford them.

America is not broke, but it may be broken. We could easily fund these programs if we had the will and if we stop the powerful from siphoning off the resources for their own coffers.