Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Myth of Big Government

Conservatives are very vocal about the dangers of "Big Government" usually couched in the form of "taking away your freedom", although they seldom say exactly how this is done, or why it is attributable to "big government" as opposed to government generally.

I can see the fear of over-reaching government, and I am sure that we have all experienced some aspect of that, usually through some bureaucratic idiocy, but sometimes worse.  America after all was founded by a wish to be free of a repressive government that was far away and unresponsive to our needs. 

However, I personally am FAR more fearful of government becoming the exclusive tool of the extremely wealthy and of mega-corporations.  This is especially true in times governed by a Supreme Court decision that equates money with political speech and effectively gives corporate interests MORE power than real human beings. 

If government abuses you, there are tools to try to fight back, using the law, the Constitution, and the Courts, to try to insure that you are treated fairly.  It doesn't always work, and no system is perfect.  But the same defenses don't always work well against giant corporations.  They are not bound by the Constitutional protections against unfair and arbitrary treatment, or the guarantee of due process.  In so-called "Right to Work" states and "employment at will" states, the power of organized labor to try to balance the great power of the mega-corporations has been limited by sheer political fiat, in a political system bought and paid for by the corporate interests. 

Increasingly, we have fewer and fewer defenses against abusive use of corporate power.  The only possible institution to protect us from all sorts of abuse is the government, mainly by wise use of regulatory power.  But a recurring theme of "government is the enemy" has allowed regulation to be kicked to the curb, resulting in things like the 2008 recession and bursting of the housing bubble.  Attempts to recover from this crash have been hamstrung by nay-sayers who cry "Big Government!" and who do not see the real problem, or they are bought and paid for by corporate power. 

So is this going to be Government by, for, and of the People any longer?  Or is it going to be corporate government, for the benefit of those institutions only, and the People are left with the crumbs and an illusion of democracy?  As wealth is concentrated in fewer and fewer hands,  I fear we are rapidly becoming the latter, aided and abetted by those who think they are supporting smaller government, but in fact are supporting an undemocratic corporate government. 

I fear for the nation my grandchildren may inherit.