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All content © 2002-2005 Anne Zook

January 21, 2004
Walking over for coffee

And, in between discussing the hoped-for results of an upcoming advertising mailing, my brain is still brooding over politics. (Multi-tasking is the only way I've survived the near-terminal boredom of the rat race over the last 30 years.)

Actually, I'm now supposed to be reading about setting up a 401k for our company, but I've read two brochures so far and I didn't understand anything they said.

I don't understand the forms we're supposed to fill out, I don't understand the questions we're supposed to answer, and I don't understand the list of answers we're supposed to choose from.

I am in such a mood and, in lieu of beating my brain against that wall any more, I've decided to rant at you.

Anyhow.

The thing is, you see, that aside from the explosion in government spending, most of which the Bush Administration fought against, their actions really are intended to shrink the size of the federal government. They fought against Homeland Security, they fought to privatize Medicare and Social Security, they've starved most educational and aid programs almost to death, they're dismembering environmental regulations and protections, etc.

They believe government should be mostly about "security" for the overall country. That means the military, so they increase spending to the military, but not to the people serving, no, they increase spending on weapons programs where most of the money will wind up in the hands of private industry.

What they can't privatize of the needed support services (which is very little, even though studies on the results of such privatization show that quality and cost-effectiveness go down), they're trying to fix the pesky personnel problem with the development of ever-more weaponry that requires fewer human bodies to operate. More war with fewer soldiers.

It's not even that difficult to justify their sort of "kicking ass and taking prisoners" approach to international relations. (Certainly I think most of us have had moments in our lives when we wished this country could just go in a blow away some petty tyrant or dictator who was making the lives of millions of people a living hell. I think it's this that the Bush Administration tapped into and is hoping to keep alive to justify their invasion of Iraq.)

You can't say they don't act on what they believe in.

You can, of course, say that they're dangerously misguided.

Far too much of this country's economy is already tied up with development and manufacturing of Weapons of Mass Destruction, for instance. Expanding military spending for weaponry is only going to aggravate that problem. How will we survive when we need to sell more and more weapons every year in order to provide for economic growth or even just stability? Will we, as some of the conspiracy-minded suggest, stoop to fostering wars in order to provide a market for our goods?

Would anyone care to try and imagine what kind of horrendous weapons the private military industries are going to come up with in order to keep their government spending contracts alive?

Would anyone care to speculate on Bush's recent interest in outer space, the historic embarrassment of the "star wars" program, and a connection to whatever other space-borne weapons we might be able to develop?

Do we need a federal government with no business to conduct that doesn't involve death and destruction?

Privacy is already a huge and growing issue in this country. With the advent of the internet, incidents of identity theft have topped something like 2,000,000 people in the last year or two. Records, financial and medical, are at risk for exposure. Government and private agencies have publicly announced the intention to compile and disseminate databases of information on unsuspecting citizens.

How are you all going to feel when that downstairs neighbor of yours, or the guy next door, the one with a grudge for that loud party you had last week, is employed by the company responsible for auditing your tax returns?

How are you all going to feel when that (ahem) private little medical problem you had last year shows up in a report on the desk of a prospective employer? When the fact that you spent 6 months on Valium after the suicide of your father is available to anyone in the world for the payment of a modest bribe sum?

How are you going to feel when that stalker boyfriend you moved across the country to escape can buy your new address, phone number, and even employer from some on-line black market source?

If they outsource the work of the federal government to private industry, there will be a lot of pious talk about security and safety and privacy and safeguards, but you know the guy next door. He can't even train his dog not to use your front yard for a toilet, so how can you trust that he's going to figure out right from wrong when he's hit with the blandishments of your soon-to-be-ex-wife's lawyer who would like to know where your money is stashed and just how much of it there is and what you were doing on the night of August 26th, anyhow.

You can regulate government and require a certain amount of protective transparency. You can't do that to private industry and never will be able to.

You don't know who is processing your financial records. With the recent rush to move jobs offshore, you don't even know what continent these records are being sent to, much less whether or not the next Osama bin Laden has half the staff of the processing center on his payroll and is about to put the thumbscrews to you and the rest of the last 1000 people to process a credit card payment at xhotxteensx.com between the hours and nine and five.

I won't even get in to the question of international trade. The Bush Administration has been so evasive on what they say versus what they believe versus what they do versus the results of their actions, intended or otherwise, that I don't even understand what's going on any more.

Anyhow.

Freedom of speech, freedom of the press, protecting the economy against the destructive influence of monopolies, and trying to insure that some recognizable version of the plane's ecology still exists twenty or fifty years from now, these are important. Education, child and senior welfare, protection of the individual, and reasonable security their daily lives, these are important.

You simply cannot rely upon industry to "self-regulate" to avoid excess pollution, insure fair and equal treatment of employees, and avoid fraud and criminal actions.

The problem is, this is just what those in charge of Bush's brain think you can do. This is why the push for deregulation. In their fantasy world, corporations have hearts, minds, and consciences that can be relied upon to push said corporations to "do the right thing."

I don't know what they were smoking when they came up with that one, but I promise you, they all inhaled. Deeply and repeatedly.

(Yeah, in Bush's Universe, excesses on the part of corporations will be "self-corrective" in that public protest and public opinion can act as a check on industry actions, but who among us has the time or the energy to spend all day, every day, trying to privately police every firm whose merchandise or products we use?

And whose protests are going to matter when the factory is in India, the corporate headquarters are in Germany, and the product is sold in the USofA, but the real problem lies in a covert sweatshop producing one vital component that's situated on some tiny island in the Bahamas?

The mind boggles.)

Pretending that government can concern itself solely with the maintenance of a military force, and a skeleton staff of legislators passing only the most basic and desperately needed regulations to keep business in check (but always careful to simultaneously protect 'business' against the unfair depredations of disgruntled citizens who can easily be dismissed as "extremists) and struggle for market domination world-wide seems like the product of some wild, mass hallucination.

It's as unworkable as Karl Marx's original, utopian vision of communism and likely to produce equally disastrous results if implemented. This is not a system under which democracy can thrive. It's not even a system under which democracy can survive.

My problem isn't that Bush-variety conservatives believe different things than I do. My problem is that they're so obviously wrong that even I can see it, and I'm anything but an expert.

I'm just saying. No one who isn't smarter than me should be in charge of this country.

And no one, even if they were smarter than me, should be in charge of this country if they're a bunch of delusional maniacs.

Posted by AnneZook at 11:27 AM


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