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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Do you really want Small Government? -- Silence DoGood

I’m not really intending this to be a political treatise, nor am I trying to be an ideologue.  However, let me say that I’m not that opposed to the size of the Federal Government, per se.  Now before you starting tuning up, let me finish.  Given a nation the size and complexity of ours, it takes much more than the generalized premises of the US Constitution to facilitate and make it go.  The founding fathers knew that the document they were drafting was simply an outline of what was to follow.  The reason it was written in such general and broad language, and some would perhaps use the term vague in places, is to allow formulation and adaptation to time, prosperity, and the unknown.  I’ve heard it spoken more than once that the Founding Fathers could have never conceived the scope and breadth this country has grown in to in the past 236 years, their approval or disapproval thereof aside.  Then take a look at The Federalist Papers.  Three writers, only one of which would eventually become President, but they each offered comprehensive insight into what the intent was behind the document for what the Central Government was to be and the ideals thereof.  All three were in a position to know and convey what the framers of the Constitution had in mind and those pleas and arguments came forth in that collection of documents.  But the point is, it is the compromises and contrasts between these men and their ideas which has brought us the government we have; for better or worse.  And thank God that all were honorable men!  The Constitution as ratified had no Bill of Rights and yet the promise to so amend the Constitution was made on the proposition that it be so ratified.  Can you imagine making such an agreement today among politicians or business people to adopt a literal foundation of something so inclusive first and then amend it after passage, based on a promise and verbal agreement?  That was the gee, wow portion of this piece.

Now, can Government stand to be scaled down?  I’m sure that it can.  Can government likewise run leaner than it does?  Again, I’m sure that it can.  In that regard however, I’m going to borrow the next bit from George Carlin.  If you’ve ever watched anything about Nazi Germany, then you’ve seen efficient government in action.  Accounting for each tooth, eyeglass, piece of clothing, and scrap of hair from each prisoner sent to the gas chambers.  Gentlemen, that is efficient government and quite frankly, I’m glad we have waste.  Bean counters want a strict accounting of debits and credits, the problem is, you have to be able to plan with foresight and that includes factoring the unknown.  So government and business are imprecise entities.  They depend on measures of precision to set and achieve goals, but they themselves are not.

Not to pick on anyone’s views and I certainly don’t mean to sound as if I am, but I want to examine two groups proffered in another piece in a bit of detail, without taking away from, or making any inferences about, that message.

Those groups would be the Libertarian Party and Tea Party Patriots, Inc.  Both groups profess an adherence to small limited government and free markets.  Well, let me point this out first of all.  Government doesn’t have to be small to be limited, nor large to be overbearing.  Now, reading the platform ( of the Libertarians, I find their views a bit more palatable than those of the Tea Party Patriots, Inc., because the Libertarians at least try to explain what they’re for and the ideology they have.  In fact, the Tea Party doesn’t even seem to have a platform, just a corporate philosophy: “Tea Party Patriots, Inc. as an organization believes in the Fiscal Responsibility, Constitutionally Limited Government, and Free Markets.”  That quote is taken directly from their website and I find that statement… confusing. They don’t go on to define what those terms mean to them or even what they are.  So ambiguity of purpose seems to ooze from that entire splinter faction of the GOP.  But, since both use or make inference to, the premises of, “Fiscal Responsibility, Constitutionally Limited Government, and Free Markets” lets look at what those terms would mean in implementation.

Fiscal Responsibility.  Okay, to most everyone, that means not spending more than you bring in.  That works as a general premise for everyone in the United States.  However, does anyone know how many years, since the United States has been a country it has been debt free?  The debt incurred from the Revolutionary War was finally paid back in the 1830’s and for a brief period of time, the US was relatively debt free.  Then the War Between the States rolls around and the United States has experienced some level of indebtedness ever since.  Now, not to the level of indebtedness we are currently experiencing for sure.  However, we have likewise not taken on as many commitments, foreign and domestic, had as many citizens, or maintained a standing military the size and breadth of the one we presently have in the field.  So fiscal responsibility in the form of debt abatement has only occurred once in the history of this nation since 1788.  Now think if you will about subsidies, farmers, businesses, emergency loans for catastrophe, none of that is fiscally responsible nor provided for in a responsible nation whereby all persons and corporate entities are held accountable for the decisions they make.  It is not the responsibility of government to act in the capacity of safety valve.  All of the ‘welfare’ is gone and off the table.  It is now sink or swim and there will be no life preserver or rescue boat coming.

Small Limited or Constitutionally Limited Government.  A reduction in the number of persons, scope, and authority across the two terms seeking to restrict or throttle back government.  Very well.  First of all, what are the implications for you?  For me, it takes everything off the table and puts back only those things provided for in the United States Constitution.  Now, you’re going to have read the Constitution to grasp what things are provided for. Basically if it’s not in the Constitution, you don’t get it.  You as a citizen have the freedom to make decisions and you are thereby held responsible for any consequences, good or bad, for the decisions you make.  That’s called rational choice theory and it posits that every individual always makes a rational choice to do everything they do or not.  Hurricane?  Didn’t stock up on supplies?  Sorry about your luck.  The airplane you just boarded sounding a little bit out of tune or there is a delay in it getting off the ground?  I guess that ‘first come, first serve, everything clear your way Bob’ take off and landing process needs some manners or a cop to stand at the intersection and direct traffic.  Maybe they could just install a yield sign.  But that’s what they talked about after the last 3 crashes.  Took all of your spare pennies, since there is no social security to invest in the stock market… until it crashed, did you?  I really hate that for you.  You should have chosen a better financial adviser.  Can’t afford to send your children to school because there is now no public school or education system?  I certainly hope that you have time to devote to the education of your children.  Perhaps you will be able to enter into a cooperative with others in order to share education responsibilities.  Of course, there is no telling what they may be taught, but that’s the way it goes I’m afraid.  Are those all gross exaggerations of outcomes?  Perhaps, in those exact words and phrased in that manner.

Free Markets.  The market dictates what pricing is in the marketplace.  It runs wild and free with no controls whatsoever.  It’s also known in some other circles as laissez faire economics.  No such thing as market stabilization on price (see fiscal responsibility above for elimination of that).  No such thing as anti-trust, or rules against monopolization of the marketplace.  The pricing is based on whatever the market will bear.  To illustrate that, look at some of the local gas stations around town, belonging to the same company.  Look at how they each price gas at different levels, based on what their competitors are selling fuel at around them.  The market and competition has shrunk from being town wide now to district or within a few blocks or each other.  Price fixing runs rampant…on the upper side.  Since it isn’t now based on competition in the marketplace, but rather, what your competition is selling at and you’re neither going to over price or severely undercut them.  And we all know that ABC gas is paying the same rate for each gallon they sell at each of their stations.  And yet, the price variation can be as much as ten cents on the gallon.  Lose your crop because the fields flooded?  I guess you should have seen that one coming.  Now you can sell out to cover your losses and go to work for Mr. Corporate Farming Cooperative.  It’s a buyer beware state of affairs now.  That new medication that you were just prescribed for your latest malady?  The one you have to have the med for since you won’t live without it...  Well, since it is the only medicine on the market for what you have, it’s $1,000 a tablet and you need 3 per day.  How free are you feeling today?  Since there is no such thing as Medicare/Medicaid, or healthcare… you lost all your money in the stock market, remember?  Yes more exaggerations.

Am I trying to scare you?  No, because the groundwork for those things is already being laid and has been talked about by some of the players now in contention for positions of power.  The problem, particularly with fuel at the moment is how can you do without it?  Electricity, and the overall cost of energy, is projected to increase by as much as 33% across the next decade.  And living isn’t going to get any cheaper for you.  And in this world, how can you do without those things and live?  Most of you have never had to and don’t know how.  That is a raw fact that isn’t lost on those that provide those services. 

I’m trying to enlighten you just as much as Thom and Harry are on this blog, to what is going on right before your eyes.  Right now, those in control are brash enough to not care if they conceal what they’re doing or not.  They have the money and resources to do as they pretty much please and they know it.  Right now, there is a fierce competition for your vote because votes are going to decide the course this nation is going to travel.  Those same upper echelon elites are trying to get you to freak out and make irrational choices, under the guise that there is something that you can immediately do to change this, that, or the other; but erstwhile, they are trying to ensure that politicians vital to their cause and their agenda are in seats of power.  They want you to look short term, while they have a long-range vision in place.  The only glimpse of the future you are given reference to is, that your children will be saddled with the payments on the current debt.  The only way of doing that is by hoodwinking you into electing those who parrot those hot button topics and buzz words.  Fiscal Responsibility, Small Government, Free Markets are broad categories of terms that are given no explanation or specific meaning.  Is that done intentionally?  There is a reason that no one has talked about the specific implications of what will happen if those policies are put into place, only how much the debt will be reduced and how much money will be saved.

Judge for yourself however.  And I say that a lot.  I leave a lot up to you to read, research, and understand.  Why?  It is not my intention or purpose to sway or influence you to any appreciable degree.  It is merely my intent to make you curious enough that you will want to go and search for the facts and truth in the things you hold as important.  Not information from political pundits, or speechwriters, or those who skew the facts or tell half-truths in order to influence.  Just the facts, both sides of the issue, so that you can inform and enable yourselves to make the decisions you need to make.  That is what I implore you to do, not only for yourselves, but this City, this State, and this Nation.  If you want to take this country back, that is what you have to do.  If not, someone else will be happy to do your thinking for you and you become the mindless automaton that is stuck with the outcomes of your actions, based on someone else’s capacity to think.  Another amazing revelation there isn’t it?  You are implored to think and consider only those things that you are told or prompted as important, but just those things.  Ironic don’t you think?  The choice, as they say, is yours.


James Thomas Shell said...

I want a smaller government and not just government for the sake of government.

I want the government to be regulated and accountable. I want the government to belong to all of the people and not corporate special interests.

What we see today is Corporate Governance. The government today is acting as a corporation that protects its own interests. The people of this country are supposed to be equal shareholders of this nation state.

Instead, it is looked upon as the people who can obtain the most economic control that are the stakeholders and the government only operates in those Corporate Stakeholders' interests. This is dangerous, because it feeds off of corruption. He who has the gold to buy off the judges with will make the rules under such a system.

That is the system we are currently living under today.

Silence DoGood said...

Understandable. Smaller is viewed as more approachable than this monolithic entity that looms large and impersonal. But as with anything, it goes back to people. Government is comprised of people. Those people make government what it is or isn't. And the people elected are so elected by other people. So it is by virtue of imperfect beings that we have a systemic drift away from what it was government was supposed to stand for.

Let's face it, without government, there would be anarchy and chaos. And government is supposed to protect the weak and provide access to all citizens under it's umbrella of governance. And yes, that includes denying a majority triumph, if the majority is wrong.

Yes, we have a Corptocracy. Special interests, big money, narrow focus. And that notion revolves around the premise that we are a 'Capitalist' nation. Are we? I thought we were a representative democracy. We seem to have mixed economic and political ideologies and people use those terms interchangably without knowing what they mean and indeed, one has taken on the meaning of the other in context.

But whatever is to be done, we have to break this elitist hold on government. Talk about entitlement mentality. And today, when you reduce the size of government, you will likewise reduce access to segments of the population. Typically the poor and destitute. The wealthy will maintain their avenues of input and control. It's the one thing they do better than take from everyone else.

James Thomas Shell said...

With the lack of Capital I have personally experienced over the last 5 years and witnessed, I don't see how anyone can state that this is a Capitalist society.

The definition of capitalism is the free flow of capital. That does not mean without regulation. What we have now is cronyism from the local level to the top of world society. The Ideal is for this nation to be a meritocracy where people earn their way to the top of society through their work ethic and deeds. Instead its all about nepotism.

The reason why we are failing is because our nation has become soulless and doesn't stand for anything. I am not talking about support of a Christian God. I am talking about the innate understanding of what is right and what is wrong. The moral fabric of our society has become marginalized.

I personally don't think TeaParty Inc. is representative of the Tea Party Movement. If I start a company called Democrat Inc. and call attention to it in the media and then start running around saying that I am for States Rights and against Social Programs and for the reinstitution of forced Child Labor or something and the media picked up on it and started representing that I was the Democrat Movement/Party, then you would be up in arms and guess what? I am up in arms, because I know the people that were at that McHenty Town Hall 2 years ago or in Newton at the Justice Center did not march lock step with the Koch brothers or Rick Perry or Mitch McConnell.

The only other point where I disagree with you is on the issue of waste. In my opinion, we aren't experiencing systemic waste due to declining economic conditions. We are experiencing declining economic conditions due to systemic waste. Not waste from spending ,ore to transition the economy, bu waste from fraud, manipulation, and cronyism.

Stimulus is the perfect example. It lined the pockets of Wall Street, foreign national governments, and those associated with our government. It obviously didn't provide jobs. Wasn't that supposed to be the stated purpose?

harryhipps said...

This is too complex a subject to fully flesh out here but here are my bullet points for smaller government.

Transition Social Security to Mandatory IRA's. It would belong to the individual not the gov't and would be part of the person's estate when he passed on. Some limits on risky investments could be in place. And there would of course have to be some small government role for disabled or other special circumstances where someone could never work.

No federal role for education. State and local government would be solely responsible for this.

Federal dollars for transportation would be for interstate highways, some ports, and airports. Local bridges and roads would be state and local.

Most grants would cease. Infrastructure needs, bulletproof vests and radio for police, housing grants, etc,,, gone. State and local gets this.

Medical Savings accounts with consumers in charge, Consumers should be able to buy insurance across state lines and keep any money left in their accounts if they maintained their own health and/or shopped better. Feds would fund research and development for the rarer diseases that aren't commercially profitable for drug companies to invest in.

Agriculture: market forces with little federal role.

The federal share of the economy should shrink considerably. The local and State would increase to take up the slack, but eliminating the cost of the federal bureaucracy and the inefficiencies should make the final price tag cheaper.

If things were handled closer to the end users of services, we would change individual behavior to scrutinize what they use and make wiser choices, we wouldn't need as much bureaucracy, other groups like churches, civic groups, and voluntary associations could help take up some of the burden and we might become a community again and not just a collection of clients of gov't services. The changes would take a long time and problems would crop up requiring some level of macro management, but I believe we'd be better off.

James Thomas Shell said...

But what would you invest your retirement in?

I dang sure am not investing it in the crooks on Wall Street, whether that be stocks, bonds, or any other instruments. They would just steal it from us.

How do we know what risky investments are when S&P and Moody's have been caught red handed cooking the books in favor of Goldman Sachs to allow them to sell junk as AAA?

What we face isn't an economic problem. It is a crisis in confidence related to not being able to trust our Economic system, because we apparently can't do anything to rein in the Economic Terror created by the MegaBanks and Global Economic Elitists. We also need to get ahold of the Corporate structure, which is accountable to no one, which is chartered in the U.S. under the auspices that it act in the public's best interest. Are they acting in the public's best interest.

Agree on the role of education... Goes to the heart of the matter related to States Rights.

Medical savings accounts... Again who makes sure that the money ends up being there? Same problem as Social Security being privatized. Do you want your health being susceptible to the whims and fancies of the crooks on Wall Street, the political culture of the regulatory agencies and the Justice department when someone rips off the system like we have seen with housing? Yes! That can happen.

Although I see problems with the individual user, I see many more problems with the collective system that is out of control and rewards people who break the law.

Look at Wall Street Investment banks, which risked Trillions on Ponzi Paper investment schemes, lost hundreds of billions of dollars, reaped as much in bonuses for executives, paid off politicians through campaign contributions, and are rarely prosecuted and when they are they pay minute penalties in relation to what they have stolen.

Harry, you seem to be arguing business as usual in the world of "Crime Pays" and pays handsomely.

Silence DoGood said...

Wow! People are engaged in discourse surrounding something I wrote!

I realize the premise surrounding 'Capitalism'. I likewise understand how the term is smeared across the landscape like it's being dragged by a team of Clydesdales. And if it's not a 'Capitalist' nation, then it's a 'Christian' nation. And if we aren't careful, it will become a 'Socialist' nation. And the thing is, all of these terms are used to assimilate meaning to inspire emotion in someone. It still follows the 'divide and conquer' strategy we've discussed and it's fairly simple in method and application, not to mention, it works. I'll bet you can go to any barber shop in town and I'll bet you hear those words being tossed around at a fever pitch. The sad part of that is, perhaps 5% will actually understand and know what they mean and more importantly, how they're being used.

I can't buy into reallocating services down. First of all, if you think cronyism is alive and well at the Federal level, gentlemen, take a look around at the local level. And you want to turn these ne'er do wells loose with even more of your money?

Another thing is, commonality. And I'm thinking of education here. While you might learn about atomic structure in West Virginia, you may come here and the same class will be, God made man in his own image.

No, I can't fathom the thoughts of 'giving' my money to someone else to allow them to make even more money for themselves. Besides, there is a premise assumed that you're going to have the disposable income available to invest in a retirement account and healthcare savings.

Yes, I understand what the Tea Party was supposed to be. I also understand what it's become. The two don't seem to resemble one another. It you want to know what I think, I think they're being used as an excuse for action or inaction as the case may be, and then when those rising stars of the movement flash and burn out, the wisdom will show that it was doomed to failure for reasons, A, B, and C. They are going to be the fall guy of 2012, no matter who wins the White House.

I see government as a necessary evil, but one that we can still control, if only we will. We've talked about government being controlled by Corporate interests, what is going to happen when we give them even more through a reduction in Government or shift to privatization? Are they suddenly going to be overcome with a sense of doing what's right for once? We have different views on these issues and that's what makes this interesting.