Let’s get the Government off our Backs

The government interferes with free enterprise by creating red tape, wasting hard-earned tax- payer money and undermining market incentives.  The solution is to shrink government.  Fortunately we have managed to elect a number of representatives to Congress to ensure that we get the government off our backs.  It is important to support their efforts in order to achieve maximum prosperity.  Here are three reasons to support their efforts and what you can do to help.

 

First, we must keep in mind that there are two ways to make money.  One is by building new and better products that meet real social needs and generate much needed work for citizens.  The other is by taking advantage of people by developing financial instruments that generate wealth through speculation and the drain resources and eliminate jobs in the those parts of our economy that are productive.  Lately the latter types of investments have been much more profitable.  Eliminating government oversight makes it much easier to develop fraudulent financial instruments and to generate the fast money associated with speculative investment.

 

Second, all production generates waste and stresses the environment.  Profits are enhanced when the social costs of production are borne by others and the private gains are concentrated in the hands of a few.  Government oversight of the environmental impact of business makes it much more difficult to avoid paying the social costs associated with production.  By shrinking the EPA and by gutting State and local environmental regulations, we can more easily pass off the environmental cost of production while enhancing the corporate bottom line.

 

Third.  We all know competition is bad for business.  When we compete for markets we inevitably drive prices down, bid up wages and are forced to innovate to create better products.  All of this activity reduces profits.  Our bottom line is enhanced when we can erect obstacles to prevent competitors from entering markets.   Fortunately, once monopoly conditions are created, our monopolies create profits, profits that enable us to establish effective barriers to entry in industry, permitting us to gouge consumers and use the obscene profits to underwrite public relations, “think” tanks and journalists that celebrate the invisible hand of the market.  Governments are the main means by which monopolies are undermined and so government efforts to destroy monopoly need to be nipped in the bud.

 

What can you do to support our efforts?  Just keep buying the line that we are doing this for your benefit.  Keep voting for congress people we are financing – representatives that will help us to disassemble and disable government oversight of business.  After all, our interests are your interests, are they not?  Let’s all work together to get the government off of our backs.

Let’s Occupy Together

(Originally Posted Nov. 5th, 2011)

I’m not sure why the media are having such trouble figuring out the demands of Occupy Wall St.  Recently, a seven-year-old girl, Celia Cooley, went down to Zuccotti Park and, posing as a reporter, she asked people why they were there (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x12iOQYY0w8).  What they said was quite consistent and quite reasonable and quite comprehensible to this young girl.  They said: We want our democracy back.

Anyone who is confused about what the protesters want has probably been listening to too much corporate news.  Corporate news stations present themselves as trustworthy and unbiased, but they are owned by large multinational corporations like General Electric and Westinghouse, and these are the folks that are benefitting from the policies that the protesters decry.

These news outlets don’t want the message of Occupy Wall St. to be heard.  They don’t want the protesters portrayed as ordinary Americans who have been bilked of their savings and booted out of the middle class and who are justifiably demanding that things change. If you’ve been watching corporate news and you are confused, the first thing to do is to broaden your sources of information.  Go to the non-commercial news sites on the Internet and listen to the chorus of ordinary Americans who are saying very clearly what’s wrong and who are making sensible suggestions about how to go about fixing it.

Here is some of what you will learn.

The economic crisis did not start because suddenly poor people started taking out mortgages on homes they couldn’t afford to pay for.  It didn’t start because of some corporate bad apples. Think about it.  The job of a lender is to determine if a person is credit worthy.  The reason loans were given to people who couldn’t afford them was simply that banks no longer had an incentive to find out if people were credit worthy.  Why?  Because banks were permitted to sell the mortgages to other companies for a profit, rather than waiting to collect on the loan.  The big banks pushed loans on people because they were making profit, hand over fist, from selling these loans to investors.

Why were the investors buying bad mortgages? Because they were permitted to bundle them together with other loans to look like safe investments.  Why did these investments look safe, because the folks in the rating agencies, who were supposed to rate these investments, were not sufficiently regulated and worked in cahoots with the big banks.

The problem, in short, was not individual behavior; the problem was that the system was jury-rigged.  Corporate lobbyists took over Congress and rewrote the banking laws in their favor.  As long as home prices went up, banks made a killing.  When the music stopped, instead of taking their consequences, big banks got their insiders at the Fed and the Treasury Department in D.C. to bail them out.  Then they got their friends their in corporate media affiliates to point their fingers at the borrowers ( the ones who are now homeless) and at big government (for wasting taxpayer money).  Meanwhile, Wall St. banks go on their merry way, paying out bonus, rewarding failure, avoiding the consequences of their actions, and continuing to use our Congress as their personal playground.

That’s just wrong.  That’s why folks are on the streets.

If you are in the Tea Party, you probably believe many of the same things that Occupy Wall St. supporters believe.  People should play by the rules.  People should be punished when they do something wrong.  If you reward people for cheating, they are likely to continue to misbehave.  Like supporters of OWS, you probably believe that our government should be accountable to us, we the people, and that the government should not collude with powerful elites to deprive people of the right to a livelihood, or to kick them out of their homes.  You probably believe that government shouldn’t write laws that favor powerful interests in order to raise enough money to get re-elected.

I support Occupy Wall St.  You and I may have our differences, but I think we share a commitment to restoring the integrity of this democracy.  I think we can agree that when a government no longer is responsive to the desires of the citizens, that it is the responsibility of citizens to act together.  The government itself is not the problem; the problem is that the government has been taken over by wealthy elites who do not have our interests at heart.  It is time for us to stand together, shoulder-to-shoulder, Republican and Democrat, on the streets of this great country and take our democracy back.

Turn off the corporate news, talk to your fellow Americans, one by one, until you decide for yourself whether what I am saying is true.  That’s what Celia is doing.  There is no other test in a democracy but that of the ability of ideas to stand the test of evidence and reason.  The values that our forbearers fought and died for are at stake.  Nothing less.

Free the Free Market

submitted by Joe Detelj

Enter any institutional media outlet and you will be offered, gratis, a wealth of information engineered in private think tanks supporting the self-evident value of the free market and the evils of regulation. Common sense dictating my self interest and the pressure not to be isolated as an outcast, I have given studious consideration to the superiority of free market driven behavior over a collective regulatory environment and concluded that it is obvious that individuals and their parent corporations are not going to engage in a manner that is inconsistent with the public welfare because, quite simply, they are the public! This is axiomatic, logic only an ideologue would question.

 

Deregulating the undertakers of risk frees them up to create the wealth that precipitates the rolling tides that lift all the boats, yachts, and inner tubes in society at bay. Only the redundant, used up, and obsolete are washed away in the breath of fresh air that follows this tide. The latest, sexiest, and hippest survive and thrive. There is no more efficient organizational model this side of Utopia. Once the full import of this natural law becomes fully implanted in our brains it is outrageous that the policy implications are not are not more widely put into effect Just off the top of my head I can offer several modest proposals that would lead to a freer and therefore a more conducive economic development policy agenda.

 

Starting at the local level, it would be more than responsible to remove all traffic lights, stop signs, and speed limits. We ought to recognize them for the impediments to fast track progress that they inherently are. Once the pedestrian public becomes accustomed to their newfound freedom we can dispense with judges, lawyers, and police as the self-regulating invisible hand of self-interest guides us. For a moment, consider the enormous savings incurred as a result of the jettisoned penal colonies and their burdensome bureaucracies – abandoned to the junk heap of history. We would no longer be constrained by their non-productive hidden tax imposed on the undertakers of wealth creation and the liberated underlying population. We could expect to finally achieve a virtual free for all, and we can only imagine the vast potential for self-improvement that may be accomplished.

 

I cannot understate how overwhelmed I personally became once the full impact of this economic science became set in stone in my consciousness. I quickly realized the lost opportunities that I suffered as a consequence of misguided interference by misinformed cement heads. My life as a case study illustrates the folly of our ways. I am very handy with power tools. I own a Makita cordless drill and a full set of diamond tipped bits. Why, other than blind devotion to restrictive regulation, am I prohibited from setting up a dentistry practice? If a willing seller, myself, finds a willing buyer, an unfortunate patient in need of affordable care, and we come together, where does the government get off dictating prohibitive restrictions that curb our freedom to mutually satisfy each other?                                                                                                    Anyone can see the job creation potential here. With some imagination, astute vertical integration, and a loaded compliment of power tools I could easily operate a production line performing amputations  and minor organ removals. A Drill Baby Drill chain, and a Cut And Paste subsidiary are real possibilities if I were only able to liberate my capitalistic proclivities. As is readily apparent, there is no limit to the improvements and possibilities that await us once we end the class warfare obstructing our undertaking bent.

 

I am certain my readers  could easily come up with dozens of their own examples of government interference with the free market that defies common sense. No aircraft pilot wants a catastrophe so why waste our hard earned money on air traffic controllers? Enough of these union mandated make work schemes. The childish requirement for curbs, sidewalks, and cross walks are just the ego driven handiwork of bureaucrats who can’t find a job in the private sector. If an occasional frog or mouse turns up in your prepackaged salad, isn’t that a really small price to pay in lieu of FDA intrusions. Worms and maggots in your soup can would be a treat for the famine stricken people in North Africa. They would welcome the protein and thank God for it, and so should we for our rich blessings. We are not nearly thankful enough for the freedom we own and those brave souls who maintain it for us. It is my fondest wish that after considering these modest proposals, which incidentally barely scratch the surface mind you, that you will be motivated to engage in the current battle valiantly being waged by our job creators to free the market and liberate our full potential as human beings.

Too Little Government

Submitted by Charles Sackrey

In a recent letter to the local paper, one reader claims that, “Top scientists now agree that man has little or nothing to do with global warming…. “ He also suggests that that we are “destroying the oceans with greed and stupidity.” His claim about the “top” scientists is simply wrong, not worthy of detailed response. However, his second argument is insightful, and I would like to add to it.

My view is that Americans took a giant step toward “destroying our oceans” in 1980 when we elected Ronald Reagan, mainly because he initiated the now long-running war the Republican Party continues to fight against government regulation. They are winning this war, and the rest of us are losing, big time. The resulting fear, even hatred, of our government is a sadly oversimplified and self-destructive view of how our economy works, and I will try to explain why.

As I hope many readers will agree, the dead fish and ruined beaches along the Gulf Coast are mostly a result of an insufficiency of government regulation. This catastrophe is occurring because British Petroleum was powerful enough to use a drilling rig that was not adequately designed or tested; it had, indeed, come to a point where it hardly had to answer to anyone. BP was given a free reign because it could largely ignore its government overseer, the U.S. Mineral Management Service. One major officer of MMS came to it from BP, and its director has been fired because of the Agency’s incompetence and cozy relations which many of the firms it was supposed to regulate.

In other words, the BP disaster is not the consequence of big government trampling on our freedoms, but a government agency that had become more of its friend than its regulator. The problem in this case was too little government, not too much.

Deregulated big business is also the root cause of the current deep recession. In this case, a small cadre of unquenchably greedy financiers rewrote the rules to serve their needs only. Their trickery and thievery, and the world depression they ushered in for us, occurred because of the deregulation of the financial sector in the late 1990s. By then, Bill Clinton and the Democrats had joined the genuinely thoughtless “free market” choir. His chief economic advisers joined Alan Greenspan to suppress a study from the Securities and Exchange Commission warning of the great hazards of an unregulated derivatives market. As in the case of BP, unregulated capitalism raised its ugly head and is now biting us all.

It surely does not surprise me that powerful, multinational corporations would want to get rid of the rules of the game. What puzzles me is why so many people, not rich and powerful, have come to see “the government,” rather than these corporations, as the major impediment to what they consider as their freedom. In fact, the greatest threat to our democratic rights are the giant firms who will stop at nothing to increase their profits. Therefore, we need to stop them with strict rules for their behavior, including prison sentences rather than fines when they break the rules and damage the rest of us. The quicker we realize that, the better.

Bayonets

When stout voices mutter

“Bayonets, bayonets,”

Narrower folk tremble.

A bullet, at least, kills

From a distance and makes

A clean penetration

In breast or skull, but

Bayonets will be close,

Next to next, like sex, thrust

In and twisted can disgorge

More guts and blood than

Anyone thought he contained.

This evening, the growl-snarl

Is “bayonets, bayonets,”

In the church sub-basement.

Eager to attack, sinews hard

After years of toughening,

They slip the long slim knives

Over the ends of their rifles,

Which they grip, sure, truth

Tightening, ready to go –

In which direction? Go where?

Karl Patten

From Touch: Poems

Commentary:  This poem was written several years ago when there was much talk – and evidence – of private militias of members of the radical right wing.   In fact, I interviewed at least one man who belonged to the Aryan Nation in the Lewisburg Penitentiary, and there were others there.   Now, apparently some members of the so-called “tea party” have similar ideas, e.g. nine men in Michigan who have been arrested for allegedly intending to kill policemen.  There is certainly much talk.

I decided to imagine such a group in our town here in the provinces where, unfortunately, “guns, guts and God” have a presence.  A church sub-basement seemed to be the correct habitat and the attitude a tough sense of “truth.” But the poem is optimistic, for I suspect such people are really confused, unsure of just what they want to do.  The form I chose, short, tight lines, seemed appropriate.

Tax Day Tea Parties

Hey-

Here is Huntington Post on Tax Day Tea Party antics.

Here is the anti-tax organizing site.

Here is where you can sign up to be a citizen journalist.

I wonder if there are any of these around here?

Is this a model of media activism we like?  Want to implement?  Does it also give progressives a chance to interact with our likely adversaries?

Are these folks into radical change also?