BY VERN TURNER
After listening to Grover NOrquist talk about small government, the elimination of taxes, the slashing of regulations and the destruction of social services that people around the world and in this country have come to accept as the universal truth of a prosperous democracy, I started counting the things that would collapse should he get his wish.
While combining this list with other lists that show where the United States currently ranks among the world’s most advanced nations, I heard an ominous rumble of fractured logic cross my consciousness.
As I understand the Libertarian mantra, no public services, or regulations on the “free” market plus few or no taxes on anything would create the ideal Ayn Rand utopia of civilization.
Well, anyone can dream … The problem I see with this ideal lies with the system of economics this country embraces: CAPITALISM.
Capitalism desires two things: freedom from any controls that reduce profit and the freedom to exploit physical and human resources to their exhaustion. So far, that sounds like a perfect match for the Libertarian mindset, but wait …
What if there were no public schools? The poor would not become educated and the “good” jobs would only be available to those who could afford schooling.
What if there were no taxpayer funded highway departments? Then, only the richest would be able to afford to pave their streets while the rest of the nation dealt with muddy tracks.
What if there was no FDA, OSHA or EPA? Well, maybe only the rich could afford to test their incoming groceries for contamination, but everybody else would be at the mercy of the grower, harvester and shipper of those food products.
This is where capitalism and Libertarianism go awry. The schools would become the propaganda mills for corporations. After all, those who fund them would be the employees who were paid enough to send their children to these schools. The “investor” would naturally want the curriculum to align with their ideas and philosophies. What about the food producer? He/she wouldn’t want to spend the extra money to inspect foods, because that would take away from profits.
If OSHA and the EPA were non-existent in NOrquist’s world industrial/farming injuries would be not cause liability because there would be no regulation to guard against unsafe working conditions.
The same “thinking” applies to the air and water surrounding the industrial bases. No regulations of waste products means no profit sucking controls on poisoning the environment. When the land, water and air were destroyed, the corporate entity would just move on and exploit another plot of the Earth until it too was destroyed … all for profit. Oh, and the people who were injured, maimed or poisoned in or around the workplace would be on their own for medical assistance since there would be no Medicare or company sponsored insurance.
I haven’t even begun to talk about retirement plans. In a Libertarian world there would be no such thing from government and since corporations would be under no obligation to provide retirement plans, the workers are, once again, on their own. After all, pensions take away from profits, no matter the interest earned against them. The Enron fiasco illustrated how eager corporate moguls are to pirate pensions for making more profit – legal or illegal, it doesn’t matter.
What is the final outcome from this scenario of a Libertarian/Capitalism society? Well, it’s been tried before in just about every other country that sought civilization.
The outcome from exploiting the land and the people, forming economic barriers to class strata and basically ignoring the needs of the people in general by government created the environment for rebellion and revolution. All one has to do is examine how much fun the crowned heads of Europe had with rebellions over the last 2,000 years, before they figured it out.
But this is 2013, not 1013. The United States, in spite of all its chest thumping, ranks 49th in life expectancy, 173rd in infant mortality, 27th in math knowledge and skills, 22nd in science and leads the world in only three things: The per capita percentage of its population incarcerated, the percent of people who believe angels and Bigfoot are real and the amount spent on the military/security apparatus. We spend more on “defense” than the next 26 nations combined and 25 of them are our friends.
We used to be No. 1 in all the good stuff.
My previous books [The Voter’s Guide to National Salvation and Killing the Dream: America’s Flirtation With Third World Status] explain how we got to these levels in historical detail. Subsequent articles will address solutions.
Meanwhile, it would help everyone to stop listening to intellectual dwarfs like NOrquist and Gingrich and start paying attention to serious economists who know what they’re talking about and have no political agenda.
Our politics are a shambles right now, so anything coming from that corner of the room is worthless. We have plenty of smart, ethical, honest and honorable thinkers here, and everyone should listen to them instead of the screamers in the tabloid media.
– Vern Turner is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer. He lives in Marble Falls, TX, where he writes a regular column for the River Cities Daily Tribune. He is the author of three books – A Worm in the Apple: The Inside Story of Public Schools, The Voters Guide to National Salvation and Killing the Dream: America’s Flirtation With Third World Status – all available through Amazon.com.