I am writing today to announce the closure of the New Mexico Independent. After three and a half years of operation in New Mexico, the board of the American Independent News Network, has decided to shift publication of its news…
Suppose you were an idiot…
I quote Mark Twain for the laugh, yes, but also as a reminder that American dislike of government is deeply ingrained in our national character.
So when NMI readers rant against government, as they often do, I share some of their unhappiness. Not all, though, because we disagree on the “why” of government and its frequent failures.
In the beginning, the framers wrote a Constitution “to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity…”
Today’s rightists love Constitutional limits on governmental power. Not so the preamble’s positive directions, particularly “Justice” and “general Welfare,” which they ignore.
I understand. “General welfare” suggests there exists a common good. And that’s tantamount to socialism, right?
Libertarians and other rightists also shut their eyes to Money’s war on democracy.
Jefferson feared the banks. By the mid-19th century, the Capitol was a cesspool of money corruption, according to Henry Adams in his 1880 bestseller “Democracy”.
The buying and selling of Congressmen in Adams’ time was picayune. Today corporations (long emancipated from their parent governments) stretch across borders and dictate to nations.
They write checks for our public servants’ campaigns and miscellaneous expenditures, write legislation for them and even (see the N.Y. Times, Nov. 15) write their speeches.
Mega-media corporations, meanwhile, corrupt the language and manipulate images to process pseudo-news and celebrity circuses, thereby distracting us from the theft of democracy.
(Having read Orwell and Huxley, you knew it was coming.)
There have been periods of popular sovereignty, yes, where big money was reined in (to its profit!) but few. Like the New Deal-Fair Deal, recently repealed to facilitate Wall Street’s recidivist crimes. Neither Teddy Roosevelt’s warnings about “trusts” nor Ike’s cautions about the military-industrial complex are welcome in today’s GOP.
The best prism for grasping corporate power today is the Administration’s (misbegotten) effort at health reform. For the White House is dealing with industries – notably insurers and pharmaceutical manufacturers – as it must foreign powers. Non-aggression pacts. Trade deals. Détente.
It’s a practical approach, admittedly, recognizing that corporate America is as or more powerful than the USA in many areas.
So I sympathize with zabjw, an Independent reader, who recently shouted that “Congress will screw everything up and their favorite sponsors will reap the rewards.”
This pushes me to wonder about reclaiming the country from big money, but free market fanatics see no need. They would shrink government further, as if power wrested from Washington would fall into your hands and mine.
Miniaturize Washington and power migrates to corporate America. Cynics presiding over the church of CATO surely understand that, if not innocents in the pews.
For more evidence of libertarian delusions, see a letter from William Koehler, press secretary, Libertarian Party of New Mexico, in the Nov. 18 Albuquerque Journal. It’s a true believer’s case for laissez-faire.
Critiquing these apologists for plutocracy, government by the rich, is easy, of course. Achieving popular government is tough, maybe impossible.
And Mark Twain is no help. He warms my judgmental soul with his jeremiad on how our Congressional representatives possess “…the smallest minds and the selfishest souls and the cowardliest hearts that God makes.”
But that’s neither accurate nor useful.
Rather than curse other people’s darkness, we need to focus on how we elect people to exercise power, then build a better system.
The goal would be a government deriving its powers from the citizenry and dedicated to the general welfare.