People want to know why the government can’t do more to help unemployed people, help with health care, help provide good educations, help with college, maintain the infrastructure, and all the other things that government does.
The answer, these days, is always, “Government doesn’t have the resources.” And that, in a nutshell, was exactly the plan.
See, here’s the thing. Our politicians have talked a lot over the years about taxes this and spending that and deficit the other, but we’ve never had an intelligent national conversation about what we want government to be able to do, in what order or priority, and how much each of these things would cost to do correctly and how we’re going to raise that money fairly and effectively.
This is not our only problem. Thirty years of “free market” this and “deregulation” that have left us with a governmental regulatory structure so dessicated that apparently lots of people thought it was fine to accept gifts from the people they’re supposed to be regulating. Rather than have the stones to say, “We don’t believe government should regulate offshore oil drilling at all!” (for example), most of our politicians — of both parties — have been content to take corporate money and look the other way, if not actually cheer, when corporations captured those in the executive branch who were supposed to be regulating them.
Well, why is that bad? Because we’re supposed to be a self-governing country, and self-government requires, well, government. And events of recent years have made abundantly clear that the government we have is inadequate to the tasks it faces.
We, the People no longer have the resources to solve our problems. We now must depend on and defer to the corporations and the wealthy few to make the important decisions and get things done instead of being able to decide and do on our own.
And if you think that was an accident, you’re even crazier than the birthers. Because we’ve known otherwise for almost 30 years.
UPDATE: E.J. Dionne of The Washington Post, 2nd verse same as the first:
“Deregulation” is wonderful until we discover what happens when regulations aren’t issued or enforced. Everyone is a capitalist until a private company blunders. Then everyone starts talking like a socialist, presuming that the government can put things right because they see it as being just as big and powerful as its Tea Party critics claim it is.
But the truth is that we have disempowered government and handed vast responsibilities over to a private sector that will never see protecting the public interest as its primary task. The sludge in the gulf is, finally, the product of our own contradictions.
And having sacked the executive and legislative branches, McClatchy (bless ’em) reports, BP and other corporations are going for the trifecta:
Facing more than 100 lawsuits after its Gulf of Mexico oil spill killed 11 workers and threatened four coastal states, oil giant BP is asking the courts to place every pre-trial issue in the hands of a single federal judge in Houston.
That judge, U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes, has traveled the world giving lectures on ethics for the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, a professional association and research group that works with BP and other oil companies. The organization pays his travel expenses.
Hughes has also collected royalties from several energy companies, including ConocoPhillips and Devon Energy, from investments in mineral rights, his financial disclosure forms show.