FOR MANY YEARS American business, on the advice of its resident courtesans, the p.r. and advertising industries, has been hiding the enormity of its actions behind sanctimonoius excuses, from “America’s security” to “jobs,” which are only sacred when they serve to hide their filthy shenanigans. The Oil and gas industries are notorious in this regard, their hypocrisy knowing no bounds. Judge for yourselves. We hope you won’t fall for this brand of professional hypocrisy. As usual, this ad uses a seductive bait, in the person of actress BROOKE ALEXANDER. She is best known for her role as con-artist Samantha Markham on As The World Turns (1994–1996).
STEVEN JONAS, MD, MPH | [print_link]
And so, the “small government” folks are now firmly entrenched in the House of Representatives. As they were in the last Congress, through the filibuster rule they will never be too far from the levers of power in the Senate either. But boy, since the last election they have become more vocal than ever. First and foremost they tell us that the “American people” demand “small government” and told us so in the last election. Well, they hardly ever tell us precisely what it is they mean by “small government” other than “cutting taxes” (especially for the wealthy), “down-sizing” government functions (of the type they don’t like), and de-regulation (of many corporate activities for which of course they don’t supply specifics). Indeed, not too specific all around.
Further there is this “the American people demand” stuff. Well, about 42% of eligibles voted in the last election and the GOP numbers amounted to somewhere around 22% of the eligibles. But those are numbers no one seems to bring up. Of course with a media that characterized the GOP win in 1994 as “the Gingrich landslide” when 37% of the eligibles voted and the GOP got slightly more than half of them, what do you expect, except that would it be too much to expect that a Democrat or two would do so? Well, I guess so. And so we are subjected to the “the American people demand small government” bombardment, which also includes the claim that “the American people want repeal of the health care reform” when poll after poll shows that they do not.
But let’s get back to this “small government” stuff, first raised when Reagan claimed that “government is the problem, not the solution.” Of course, Reagan wasn’t the only one. I remember cringing in my seat when in his first State of the Union Address, Bill Clinton, Chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council before he became President of the United States, said “the era of big government is over.” Of course when the GOP/Tea-Party/Paulite (as in Ron and Rand, not Saint) uses/re-uses and over-uses the phrase, they are referring only to a certain particular set of Federal government functions, not just any or all of them.
These include: taxation (without bothering to tell us taxation for what), regulation of such things as financial markets (which most Tea-Partiers just don’t seem to be able to get, so they are just viscerally against it when you-know-who is for it) and the environment (which right-wingers are against until something happens to THEM, like a railroad tank-car spill or a ground pollution event or a BP blow-out disaster that could have been prevented if there had been regulation); of course health insurance reform (which they have been convinced by the Sean Hannitys and Mark Levins of their world means a “government takeover of health care” when the whole operating system remains in private hands just as it is now, except for those chunks which are now in public hands, like the VA health system from which one can be sure a goodly number of Tea Partiers get their health care), and just about anything that might help the “undeserving poor” (especially if they are not white), however that term might be defined. It is absolutely fascinating that the new GOP/Tea Party Senator from Utah, Mike Lee, has actually called for the repeal of national child labor legislation. One wonders just how that would help solve the unemployment problem for so many of the nation’s adults, but that’s another matter.
So, “government,” yuck. Let’s just get rid of it and go back to “abiding by the Constitution.” Of course these folks seem to forget that the Constitution is a document that sets up a national government and gives it a whole bunch of functions to achieve the purposes set out in the Preamble (http://blog.buzzflash.com/jonas/185) with a whole bunch of powers spelled out in Articles I and II. But hey, why should they confuse themselves with facts. But then, is the debate really about “big government vs. small government?” Isn’t it more about what the proper functions of government are without referring to its size? After all, protestations and the wishful thinking of a few lefties to the contrary notwithstanding, polls show that the majority of Tea Partiers are GOPers. Ron and Rand are GOPers, and the former has voted with his party in Congress on most issues other than the last President’s foreign war-making. The GOPers in the Congress and those voters who identify themselves with that party, not with the Tea Party, are certainly GOPers. And they all say that their common interest, at least with this President in office, is “small government.” A nice, sort of libertarian thought, no? Well, no.
These folks are not for “small government” across the board. They are only for “small government” when it comes to certain kinds of issues, like the ones reviewed briefly above. But boy, these folks are for Big Government, VERY Big Government, in a bunch of other arenas, all of which just happen to deal with personal belief and personal behavior. Let’s see now, what might they be? Well abortion rights, for one. They want to criminalize choice in that matter. But actually that issue goes way beyond abortion, per se. Rather it goes to the matter of one’s religious belief as to when life begins. Forget about abortion, per se. They want to criminalize any belief other than that which holds that life begins at the moment of conception (http://blog.buzzflash.com/jonas/182). That sounds like pretty big government to me.
Then there’s the matter of gay marriage. The 14th Amendment to the Constitution that they profess to hold so dear (except of course for the part of the 14th that provides citizenship to anyone born in the United States) guarantees equal protection of the law “to any person within [the] jurisdiction” of each State. It happens that each state has a set of civil laws that applies to the institution of marriage. Yet these “small government” folks want to deny access to that civil law to same-sex couples wishing to marry. They would thus deny them that guaranteed “equal protection of the laws,” just because the GOP/Tea Party/Christian Rightists’ religious beliefs say “no” to gay marriage. Pretty big government there, wouldn’t you say? Again, they would place one set of religious beliefs above all others. Oh yes, let us note here, that one of the three (so far) members of the Senate “Tea Party” caucus, Jim DeMint, in both of his Senate campaigns called for banning gay teachers from the classroom. DADT for teachers, Jim?
Then there is the right to die, a pretty personal matter wouldn’t you say? Attorney General Ashcroft, you know, the one who put a drape over the bare breasts of the statue of Lady Justice in the lobby of the Department of Justice, went out of his way to try to interfere with the democratically adopted law concerning that matter in Oregon. And then there was the likely 2012 GOP Presidential nominee, JEB Bush, and the Schiavo case. These “small government” folks would deny terminally ill people the right, under very carefully controlled conditions, to obtain medical assistance to end their lives at a time of their own choosing or that of their closest family member.
Then there is the use of recreational mood-altering drugs (RMADs) and drug-carriers. Certain ones, like the two major killers, tobacco products and ethyl alcohol, are “OK.” They are subject to taxation and certain civil limitations on place and time of use, and of course criminal prosecution for otherwise criminal acts committed under the influence of alcohol. Other RMADs, like marijuana, cocaine, and heroin, are subject to blanket prohibition of both sale and use, totally limiting personal choice of exactly which RMAD’s to use or not, at the risk of criminal prosecution. Sounds like pretty big government once again, no?
These folks are thus very much for big government in a whole bunch of arenas. But they all have to do with personal beliefs, especially religious ones, and behaviors even when they directly harm no one else. They are for “small government” when it comes to dealing with economic issues and VERY BIG NATIONAL PROBLEMS like the crumbling infrastructure, the failing educational system, and the future supply of energy. The favorite right-winger of certain lefties (because he happened to be against the Iraq War), Ron Paul, gets caught up in this contradiction right from the git-go. It happens that this physician is as against abortion rights as anyone else on his side of the aisle in Congress. And his son Rand is a leader of the Association of Physicians and Surgeons, a tiny (3000 members out of 800,000 US physicians) but well-funded and very vocal group, which has opposed just about every liberal-progressive advances in medicine and health care since they originally organized to oppose Medicare right along with Ronald Reagan. And oh yes, they too would criminalize abortion.
This all is, of course, dictated by the Corporate Power that the GOP/Tea Party represents, without happening to let the nation as a whole in on that fact. Our side would be well-advised to indeed begin to do just that.
Author’s Note: This Commentary is number 164 in my BuzzFlash series. It is based in part on my BF Commentary No. 139 of April. 14, 2010 entitled “Big Government, Small Government: It’s All a Matter of Taste.”
STEVEN JONAS, MD, MPH is a Professor of Preventive Medicine at Stony Brook University (NY) and author/co-author/editor of 30 books. In addition to being a columnist for Truthout/BuzzFlash (http://www.truth-out.org/, http://www.buzzflash.com), Dr. Jonas is also Managing Editor and a Contributing Author for TPJmagazine; a Featured Writer for Dandelion Salad; a Senior Columnist for The Greanville Post (http://www.greanvillepost.com/; a Contributor to Op-Ed News.com (http://www.opednews.com/), a Contributor to TheHarderStuff newsletter; and a Contributor to The Planetary Movement.
Stephen Scott Crockett 12:46 am
The proper role of government on an issue by issue basis should be the discussion along with whose interests our government serves. The “size of government” discussion is really fuzzy logic intentionally designed to obscure the more important issues.
Government run by and for the vast majority of Americans should be our goal especially on economic, military and foreign policy issues. Republicans only serve the super wealthy and corporate power.
godblessfdr on Mon, 01/24/2011 – 10:51am.
I totally agree. Republicans-tea baggers are against government when it hurts the rich and corporations but not when it hurts the common man which they consider to be peasants who need controlling. This is the essence of Republicanism control the common man so the elite can steamroll them, too bad the average American is too dull to see this.
Published on BuzzFlash/Truthout on Sun, 01/23/2011 – 1:31pm.
The crew at TGP (all certifiable animal lovers and defenders) wishes to thank Natalie JARNSTEDT, for forwarding this touching story, and for contributing so generously to this poor creature’s second chance. Way to go, Beauty!
LIBERAL BETRAYALS DEPT.—
Originally at: Newsmax (a rightwing site)
Big Government Is Dead — Even in New York
By: Wayne Allyn Root
[print_link] Thursday, January 20, 2011
Editor’s Note: We republish this article not because at TGP we have suddenly seen the error of our ways, turned our coats, and become lunatic rightwingers seeing the world upside down. The purpose is to remind mainstream liberals who still believe in the viability of the Democratic party and its leading politicians that such faith is grotesquely misplaced insofar as we refer to establishment politicians, especially those, like the Cuomos, who are smoothly marketing themselves as a new dynasty comparable to the Kennedys. Wayne Allyn Root, of course, writes for Newsmax, one of the most perfervid and insidious sites on the Right, so bear that in mind as you read this tract. He’s perfectly on target, however, in telling his readers that Cuomo’s fiscally conservative agenda signals (in his view) the deathknell of liberalism. In that he’s both right and wrong at once. He’s right because he calls Cuomo for what he is: a mainstream, opportunist Democratic politician following the rightward drift of his party’s top leadership. Will he prove intelligent enough to tack left and become a highly popular tribune of the masses? We don’t know at this point but the noises he has been making suggest yet another Clinton with an Italian surname, another expert at “triangulating” any situation and putting expediency and political career above principle. But Allyn Root is wrong in calling this the “death” of liberalism (as crystallized in the invidious phrase “tax and spend liberals”—yet another jab at “big government”) because liberalism has been dead for a very long time. And it was establishment liberals themselves that killed it.
It’s amazing to me that there are still a few people in America pushing the dinosaur called “the progressive agenda.” How can anyone demand bigger government, more services, higher spending, and higher taxes in the middle of a financial Armageddon?
That’s not a progressive agenda. It’s a bankruptcy agenda. These people aren’t liberals; they are fossils. It’s a far different world out there — perhaps they haven’t noticed. But the proof is found in my old home state of New York, and my new adopted home state of Nevada.
There is a dramatic and truly amazing lesson developing right now in New York. The newly elected governor of New York is Democrat Andrew Cuomo. He is the son of one of the heroes of big government “tax and spend” liberalism — former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo.
Yet this new and improved Cuomo refuses to raise taxes one cent. He is demanding a “radical shift” in the way New York is run (headline quoted from the liberal New York Times). That radical shift is built around the idea of dramatic cuts in services, smaller government, far fewer government employees and agencies, and reigning in public employee unions.
As a lifelong fiscal conservative, I couldn’t have said it better myself. Cuomo promises to reduce the entire $10 billion deficit with $10 billion in spending cuts. He is pro-business and refuses to use “class warfare” to incite jealousy and hatred. Amen.
Most remarkable of all, even with a $10 billion budget deficit, this new generation of Cuomo is actually allowing a “wealth tax” (a higher tax on wealthy New Yorkers) to expire. Ending this wealth tax will cost the state of New York an extra billion dollars.
This Cuomo says that if New York doesn’t stop raising taxes on the rich and business, there will be no businesses or rich left to tax. Who does this guy think he is — me?
In short, the “progressive” agenda is dying before our very eyes. Even New York Democrats have had enough of high taxes necessary to pay toll takers $100,000 per year in retirement. Even New Yorkers have had it with sanitation workers who make $90,000 per year, but can’t manage to clear the streets in a blizzard. Even New Yorkers are in shock over the bankruptcy of OTB (Off Track Betting).
Government is so pathetic in New York, they’ve managed to pull off the impossible — run the gambling business into bankruptcy! How did this happen? There were far too many OTB employees (all cronies of government bureaucrats and politicians), collecting bloated salaries and obscene pensions at the expense of taxpayers.
The goose that laid the golden egg was finally killed by the greed and incompetence of big government. I figured this all out 20 years ago and escaped from New York.
Let New York serve as proof that the entire country will soon be moving toward the model of my adopted home state of Nevada. What is the Nevada model? It’s simple. It’s the model of the United States Constitution — government should do as little as possible, leave the rest to the people and the private sector, and then get the heck out of the way.
Nevada’s model is smaller government, lower spending, reduced services, fewer government employees, and lower taxes. Does it work? Ask the U.S. Census Bureau. Nevada is once again the fastest-growing state in America — for the fifth straight decade. It’s no coincidence or luck when you’re No. 1 for 50 years in a row.
Does Nevada have financial problems despite that philosophy of smaller government? You bet. Like the other 49 states, Nevada spent irresponsibly for the past decade. We spent money we didn’t have. That’s not a tax problem. That’s a spending addiction. It’s time for our states to enter rehab.
Brian Sandoval, the newly elected governor of Nevada, is a fiscal conservative who promises to close the budget gap without raising one cent in taxes. Like New York Gov. Cuomo, he’s even promising to allow about a billion dollars of temporary tax increases enacted a few years ago to expire. That’s called courage.
If our governor holds true to his promise, I predict Nevada will be No. 1 out of 50 states for many more decades to come.
Cities, counties, and states across America are facing financial disaster and bankruptcy due to unsustainable spending and debt. Higher taxes aren’t the answer; it is America’s highest tax states that are facing the worst ruin.
The lesson is clear — higher taxes lead to even higher spending, deficit, and debt.
Higher taxes are used to hire more government employees, at higher salaries, with bigger pensions. This progressive agenda leads to economic ruin all over the world.
Ask New York. Ask California. Or ask the PIIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain). They all suffer from the same maladies — big government, bloated spending, big pensions, unsustainable deficits, powerful unions, and too many government employees trying to leech off too few taxpayers. It’s a dying model.
Perhaps liberals, progressives, and all Obama followers need to watch the news once in a while. If they did, they’d see the greatest example of all. Even communist Cuba is cutting 500,000 government employees, promising to cut another 500,000 soon, and asking its citizens to stop expecting so much from government.
Thankfully, the progressive model of big government is dead.
Wayne Allyn Root is a former libertarian vice presidential nominee and now serves as chairman of the Libertarian National Congressional Committee. He is the best-selling author of “The Conscience of a Libertarian: Empowering the Citizen Revolution with God, Guns, Gold &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp; Tax Cuts.” His website is ROOTforAmerica.com.
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