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Hey, Ronald McReagan!
(A series of essays on the failures of Republican governance since the 1980s)
Soylent Green is Government!
Unfortunately, in my experience and in the view of a multitude of studies and research, Republicans and conservatives are by their very nature obedient to authority above all and actively seek to refuse facts that contradict their world-view.
Like Fox News, they will just create disinformation out of thin air when they can't find a fact which will conform to their preconceptions. (And protecting the fear-based sanctity of their preconceptions from the enemies of belief out there is a core value for conservatives).
Well, ok, who doesn't like law and order, nothing wrong with authority maintaining that, right? We were just championing the rule of law, after all, in the last few paragraphs while noting the hypocrisy of trhe conservative tact of breaking the law in order to defend it. Yep, ostensibly, we all prefer law and order.
Except, then, why not impose law and order on markets via the collective agreement of market participants? Again, isn't that all government does? By and for the people, they establish guardrails so the marketplace and its participants don't just go over the side of the bridge in chaos.
But then, somehow, suddenly, such law and order becomes "intervention, writing the script, directing the action" when the philosophy of "free market profits above" is threatened?
Meanwhile, liberals by definition have an openess to other points of view, value and attempt to achieve a real consensus from diversity, and govern with the goal of sustainable prosperity for the most Americans possible in mind (unless they are again a bad actor; people can be found in all political parties who abuse the power of government for their small cabal, Democrats included).
What Dems don't say --like the knee-jerk Tea Partiers and Republicans who love them and their scrawled in crayon "Down with government" posters which they bought using the money from their social security check-- is that government shoud be drowned in a bathtub. (AKA, it will be pleasing to me to watch all my neighbors all die from suffocation as long as my cronies profit).
And hence we don't just govern by obstruction like the Republicans have.
The point is, unlike like most freemarket acolytes who let Friedman do their thinking for them, the rest of us understand that government is an overall good because government is "us, we the people." Soylent Green is Government!
Let's break it down to the basics. The government was created by and for the people and the marketplace to serve the people and the marketplace and it embeds orderly change and improvement in its structure.
Don't like the poor policy of a government actor? Simply use your free speech to criticise them and and then inspire the people to vote out any bad actors in the government making poor policy choices. Just don't say it all sucks now because you lost an election. See the distinction? College educated liberals and successful Democrats say "Government is good (with some nuance), let's try to use it for the good of all". Even the uneducated -other than those susceptible to the Southern Strategy in the the Dixie states-- understand that for what it is, better than the selfish oligarchical interests expressed as government by Republicans.
This is the way I see it: the people demand order to their trading and come together around the tree (the marketplace) to do something they could not do alone. They decide there will be some rules and enforcement to improve efficiency and profitability for all. Trading start at 9:30am by rule of law.
Thus the marketplace creates its own designated actor --the law, the legislators who write it, the security force to protect it as well as the the legal apparatus to influence and turnover the legisloators and security forces (voting) -- to act on its behalf called government.
It's obvious that this is still the marketplace itself by definition, they are just gathering together for collective power and rule making on behalf of the marketplace. Some individual agency is lost but much power is gained. That is the social contract...Since we started hearding animals and planting grain as human beings on the planet.
This "body of the people in the marketplace" (aka governemnt) then works with the expressed intent of supporting the marketplace and increasing prosperity.
With that expressed intent to benefit participants in the marketplace and thus business, the only flaw which can be claimed by anti-government Friedmanites is that sometimes it benefits the businesses of some more than others?
And yet so does the free market. Popular products survive and thrive when they work and are popular with the people. Popular government policies that help some companies survive and thrive because the will of the people was expressed through their voting for such polices... pernicious!
Note that, again, the will of the people nor the power of government is not absolute. The mechanism exists to change the policy by convincing the people your ideas are better and getting them to vote for your representative.
Meanwhile, no such mechanism exists at the corporate level in terms of voters except boycotting a product. Voters cannot vote out Chainsaw Al no matter how many companies he strips and runs into the ground.
So what conservative critics of governent seem to be saying is that it is pernicious that the government is supposed to be egalitarian and work not just for profit but also for justice and does so unevenly? So they shouldn't do it at all?
In other words, the people should just throw up their hands and stop self-regulating? Well, obviously that is impractical.
Note that indeed government representatives have the extra burden of demanding on behalf of the people long term policies which are healthy, sustainable and offer prosperity to the greatest number. Hence, rather than a pernicious interest being expressed, it is a more positive force inthe marketplace by definition versus the pure corporate interest expressed by Friedmanites as the highest ideal.
That of course just adds to the demand that government representatives perform their duties as best they can, which is better than the 'nothing can be done' attitude that the Friedmanites suggest can somehow be a solution.
In their minds, government (when a Dem is in office anyway) is always bad because the monopolies it can create sometimes crowd out the interests of the profit-only corporations who should always get preferential treatment despite contributing less to the overall long term sustainable growth and prosperity of the country? Got it.
In my mind, the people and their representatives offer security forces to the marketplace. Security enhances the viability of the marketplace. To secure the marketplace these people acting on behalf of the marketplace become a buyer of military products in the marketplace. So, sure, they are now "expanding credit" and writing a script, and doing it in a way that might encourage a monopoly even as it has higher objectives than just profit. And, yes, monopolies are bad, which is is why the people approved of anti-trust regulations to stop them from forming. And that is why good government doesn't abuse this power. However, even if it does, to some degree that is ultimately too an expression of the marketplace and thus serves the marketplace rather than harms it.
Nonetheless, if the GOP thinks monopolies are bad when the government creates them, isn't government then good at the same time by trying to stop corporate monopolies via application of the rule of law and regulation? Good regulation, meet your skeptics of government who actually agree with you after all! Yet Republians refuse to follow this logic to its end-- that government is an overall good and your fellow citizens and their competing interests don't deserve that bathwater execution after all.
And history has shown that the marketplace eventually always realizes and ackowledges that when there are no buyers because there is a depression on, and no spending happens, a monopoly can't happen. You need a buyer of last resort or you will go out of business. Meanwhile, your competition --all other businesses selling defense widgets-- are looking for buyers too and can't find any.
So if they get together with their friends (don't be frightened, they're just your neighbors!) and collect some money to fund a buyer of last resort, well, good! That's the people's will, not unfair competition, and it restores a functional system without which few to none will prosper for long.
Now, you see, my dear child, those funds are called taxes, those neighbors are called the people in your town who ran for office and that economy is what puts food on your plate each night. Isn't that nice?
.And thus so what if there is competition to sell to this big people's-rep buyer? It's stimulative in a dire time. This buyer is just another actor in the marketplace rather than a superactor that writes the rules and excludes others unfairly.
Competition always includes doing what you can to make friends and influence the buying public to choose your product (get the people you like and sponsor into office and try to get them to give you a sale). That includes making friends of people in power and trying to get the public to vote a guy friendly to your interests into power.
This is not 'skewing the market', this is the market itself creating an extension of itself to act in markets for the overall good of the marketplace and it's participants, and it is open to all and democratic because it has the seeds of change by vote embedded in it.
If it is seen to not be for the overall good of the most people in the marketplace as it was created to do there is the mechanism of voting to ensure the collective needs and will of the people are being met so that the marketplace is happy.
Government is just like Soylent Green - just people! As I've often heard Jon Stewart put it, "You're not against government, you're just against government that doesn't serve your interest and policies you don't like."
Government --the people-- to a great degree exists to serve business (maintain a positive spending environment) and it also is a consumer of some products.
So, the people get their money together to buy guns to give to a guy to keep the door shut all night and then this guy becomes some kind of pernicious "other" who is skewing it all because he sure buys a lot of guns and he sure seems to buy them from S&W not Glock? So what? It can't be skewed forever since the S&W guy can be voted out by the will of the people. Don't like S&W? Get your Glock guy to run for office and express your desire through legislation.
If the will if the people don't elect untra-conservative freemarketers, the people in government are not serving your interest well enough... that isn't tyranny and a skewing of the marketplace. It just means your ideas are not winning the public over in the marketplace of ideas and thus the representatives the people elect may not be to your liking and someone else's products will get bought.
Well, get a better campaign, it's not the system itself of liberal government at fault per se.
Ultimately, you're right, government us a privledged actor in the markets and can even set the rules of the market in ways that others in the markets cannot, but we all have access to influence the decision of this superactor and thus it is not exclusive nor un-amendable. Therefore, it always serves the marketplace and can't therefore be an enemy of the marketplace.
Sure, the collective power of the people as expressed in government needs to be kept accountable to the people. It should be monitored, regulated and the marketplace actors within and without the government can try to influence that process.
However... Bottom line, people collectively all together make up the government. Government is not an alien force imposed on us from space. The people of the marketplace create the marketplace by gathering together by a tree. After sime time those who gther often say, un order for this to work better for all of us why dont we have some rules. "Trading starts at 9:30am. If you want to elect a rep and have them enforce those rules, ok. That rep will also try to be a buyer in the marketplace too, especially when there is no other buyer."
So now we have government as an actor in the markets, but it necessarily isn't a for-profit actor, it serves the peple and is answerable to them by law. How can the people be their own enemy? Since government actually explicitly exists to serve the interests of business to a great degree (and because business people are the people with the money, power and impetus to run for office and seek the benefits of power) it should never ever be bad-mouthed by a businessman. If you hear that come out of a businessman's mouth, you just know they are a bad businessman who can't win over voters and curses his fellows instead of improving his product.
To conclude, bad government may be a problem if it becomes a super in the marketplace overehelming all others to secure the interests of a few (hypocritical Republican rule oligarchy) but government itself IS the people and thus not an outside actor on the marketplace but rather a collective of marketplace participants with a mandate greater than mere profits.
Now, while I'm not goign to be running for office soon or anything, at least when my neighbors come to the door I'll turn on the porchlight and answer it! Hope you will too!
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