Who’s helping who get rich in Washington?
October 13, 2006
I’m often puzzled by the inconsistent actions and viewpoints of the plutocrats who mostly seem to be Republicans, who nominally refer to themselves as the party of “less government is better government.”The fact is that Republicans, at least in recent decades, have given us far more government that Democrats ever have, and they want to keep it up, whether we’re talking about the politics of sex or the freedom of the Internet.The national facts are well-known. For instance, there is the fact that it has been Republicans who have driven up the national debt to the point where we, as a nation, are effectively in thrall to our creditors, which are other nations around the world as well as the big international banks – banks that, interestingly, are largely controlled by Republicans. Is there a theme here? Is that what Republicans really like about being in power, the ability to enrich their friends through the manipulation of government programs and policies? No, that couldn’t be true, could it?One analysis of the debt maintains that it has been driven skyward by the Bush administration’s military adventurism in Afghanistan and Iraq (enriching the industries that make money from war), coupled with the tax cuts for the wealthy (making sure the ones who control those same industries don’t have to pay much in taxes).Granted, that’s the analysis used by Democrats, who certainly are not impartial. But they’re not the only ones who view things this way, and the reasoning is solid as far as I can see. I should admit that I am one of those non-Democrats who agrees with the analysis.Anyway, the results of all this debt are felt throughout the fabric of the nation. Our interest rates and payments on this debt make money scarce for other very important things that our government should be doing, such as fixing our decrepit transportation infrastructure before it crumbles beneath our wheels.There’s an old adage about government, something along the lines of this: All government should really do is make sure the roads are in good repair and keep us safe from our enemies. I think it was a Republican who said that.Well, the Shrub has certainly taken the second part of that adage to heart, although I believe the “enemies” he is protecting us from are more of his own making than he would admit.As for the first part, it’s a mess, particularly if you broaden the definition from just “roads,” which is all there was when the adage was born, to include everything from superhighways to airplanes to our national rail system. Despite massive subsidies from government, our roads are in terrible shape, and the airlines are falling out of the friendly skies like starved buzzards. The two effective alternative transportation systems we have – railroads and buses – are being and have been deliberately neglected for decades, primarily by Republican budget-cutters who seem to have an in-born dislike of any form of transportation that rolls along the ground and is not a big private car.The point is, Republicans have been bailing out the airlines with huge amounts of money, which would seem to contradict their professed interest in keeping government out of the private sector. But if they admit that transportation is something government has a responsibility for, why don’t they also fund the trains and help the bus companies?Another area where the Republicans seem to think government is not such a bad thing is in controlling what we think and do in our private lives. The abortion battle, the strange and convoluted national nervousness about gays, many of whom are Republicans themselves, are prime examples. It all seems so senseless, unless you realize that it’s about control, and control of everything we think, see and do seems to be what Republicans are really after.Take the issue of Internet freedom. It seems to be a Republican-driven push to make the Internet just another fee-for-service information conduit that unavoidably would soon be controlled by those same corporate interests that run the banks and the munitions factories that profit from our national debt. Are we back to the theme of Republicans using our government to enrich Republicans?As for the rest of us, we would lose what has become a rich source of information and vehicle for lively debate. Such limitations will spark a war, which in turn will spawn limitations, censorship and the kind of crackdown on dissent that only a totalitarian state can love.Is this where the Republicans want to take us? John Colson can be reached at email@example.com