Wednesday, November 03, 2010

US Mid-term elections: The Small State turkeys have voted for Thanksgiving.

^Cartoon HT to the ever-excellent Marc Roberts
So the US in its wisdom has voted for Small Government. What does Small Government mean?

Before we can answer that, we have to ask, what is Government for?

The purpose of Government is to protect the citizens from harm, to protect the vulnerable from being hurt and exploited by the strong. It is a pooling of the power of individual citizens into a common good. It is an insurance policy. Some will get more out of it than they put in, and vice versa. That's the deal.

In more detail, this means:
  1. Protection from hostile states. Which requires a defence strategy and international agreements to prevent war.
  2. Protection against murder, rape, violence, robbery, and fraud. Which requires a police force.
  3. Protection against hunger, thirst, cold and disease. Which requires a sustainable food, water, shelter, energy and sewerage systems, and guidance to the market so that we move to a sustainable economy, away from the cliff of Peak Oil, and Peak Everything.
  4. Protection against poverty for those unable to work, or unable to find work. Which requires social security.
  5. Protection against illness. Which requires a health service.
  6. Protection against ignorance. Which requires an education service, and a healthy, diverse news media.
These are the basic, irreducible functions of  Government. 

There are two main threats to good government:
  1. The powerful will tend to try to capture Government for their own interests, and not those of the people.
  2. The institutions of Government will tend to become sclerotic, hardened, inefficient and useless.
The inefficiency problem should be dealt with by a policy of continual bottom-up reform, whereby workers can put forward suggestions for better ways of working, which will be adopted and promulgated if shown to be valid.

Democracy exists to prevent or ameliorate the tendency of any one Government to stay too long in office, which otherwise leads to complacency, selfishness and megalomania, as happens  in dictatorships. This addresses to some extent the "capture" threat, but there is another threat of capture, from institutions that are outside of Government, and have influence and powerful over Government.

Which is where the Small Government idea comes in.

In essence, it is an antithetical reaction to the Total State of Marxist-Leninist/Maoist/NationalSocialist ideation, where the State controls every aspect of people's lives, including production and trade.

Against the Absolute State, the Small Staters propose the Absolute Market, where individuals are free to band together into companies in order to make money by trade with zero constraint, able to do whatever they can get away with (within the law, which they can bend by using their wealth to buy powerful lawyers  who can bend the law to their own ends). They are Fundamentalists: Free Market Fundamentalists.

It is very clear that this Small Statism is the ideology of powerful interests intent on capturing and dominating the Government. They do this by giving donations to political parties, and by lobbying Government Ministers and officials. They have also captured the democratic process, by controlling the media. The Sun, Mail, Telegraph, Express and Times have a combined readership of 18 million, which is 10 (ten) times the combined readership of the Guardian and the Independent.

In the case of the Tea Party movement, the corporations have acted by "astroturfing" - providing money to facilitate a false grass roots movement, as George Monbiot has shown. The powerful have captured the democratic process in order to capture government. Clever.

So in a nutshell, the US Tea Party movement are useful idiots, tools of the powerful corporations. They have been brainwashed by the propagandists of Murdoch's empire, notably the hysterics who anchor Fox "news" programmes.  Instead of voting for reform, efficiency and sustainability in Government so that it protects them from present and future harm, they have voted to empower the plutocrats whose only interests is to suck ever more wealth to themselves.

The turkeys have, in essence, voted for Thanksgiving.

It's not just me saying this: Here's Ralph Nader on The Road to Corporate Serfdom, with some very arresting quotes from great US leaders.

In fact, they're so arresting, I'mgoing to nick them:

Thomas Jefferson—“I hope that we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country.”

Abraham Lincoln in 1864—“I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. …corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.” (1864)

Theodore Roosevelt—“The citizens of the United States must control the mighty commercial forces which they themselves call into being.”

Woodrow Wilson—“Big business is not dangerous because it is big, but because its bigness is an unwholesome inflation created by privileges and exemptions which it ought not to enjoy.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt—“The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is Fascism—ownership of Government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power.”

No comments: