December 3rd, 2010
Some questions to ask our quaint little Teaparty friends
The Teaparty folks never tire of calling for “smaller government”. How sweet. Most other Republicans repeat the same mantra ad nauseam as well, as do many liberals (not to be confused with progressives). So for all these individuals I have some questions:
- When there’s a plane crash the government sends investigators to the crash site to try to determine the cause of the accident; this is information that can be used to make air travel safer. But it’s really BIG GOVERNMENT, forcing the airlines to fully cooperate, provide all relevant information, secrecy is not permitted, and make changes or face severe penalties. Do you think the government should stop doing this?
- Following this year’s BP oil spill do you think the government was right to bully and threaten the company for an explanation and solution for the catastrophe, or should it have been “hands off” for the sake of small government?
- Following a major earthquake there’s usually a cry from many quarters: Stores should not be raising prices for basic necessities like water, generators, batteries, tree-removal services, diapers, etc. More grievances soon arise because landlords raise rents on vacant apartments after many dwellings in the city have been rendered uninhabitable. How dare they do that? people wail. Following the 1994 earthquake in Los Angeles the California Assembly proceeded to make it a crime for merchants to increase prices for vital goods and services by more than ten percent after a natural disaster.11 Following the destruction caused by Hurricane Isabel in September 2003, the governor and attorney general of Virginia called on the legislature to pass the state’s first anti-price-gouging law after receiving about 100 complaints from residents. North Carolina had enacted an anti-gouging law just shortly before.12 Does such blatant big-government interference in our God-given Supply-and-Demand system bother you? Do you think that our legislators should simply allow “the magic of the marketplace” to do its magic?
- Do you think that the government should continue waging war against what they call “terrorists” abroad, since there’s no bigger or more expensive big-government action than this?
- Do you think the government should continue with its electronic strip searches and body feel-ups at airports or should we allow the risk of bombs being brought on board airplanes? (Or — as an alternative to either — do you think the government should cease its bombing, invading, occupying, overthrowing, killing and torturing around the world so as to put an end to its creating anti-American terrorists?)
- If your bank fails — and hundreds have done so in recent years — are you willing to accept the loss of your life’s savings? Or are you thankful that big, big government steps in, takes over the bank, and protects every penny of your savings?
- Do you think that big government — federal, state or local — should stop haranguing the citizenry about the environment: recycling, air pollution, water pollution, soil runoff, etc., etc., or that people should simply be allowed to do what is most convenient for them, their families, and their businesses?
- Do you think that manufacturers should have the right to run their factories à la a sweatshop in a Bangkok alley 50 years ago or that big government should throw its weight around to assure modern working conditions, with worker health and safety standards?
- When a prescription drug starts to kill or harm more and more people, who should decide when to pull it off the market: Big Government or the drug’s manufacturer?
- Are you glad that food packages list the details of ingredients and nutrition? Who do you think is responsible for that?
- A huge number of Americans would be facing serious hunger if not for their food stamps; more than 40 million receive them. Where do you think food stamps come from? No, not from Sarah Palin.
- And where, pray tell, do you think unemployment insurance, housing subsidies, and Medicare come from? (There were of course, lord help us, the Teaparty signs: “Keep your government hands off my Medicare,”13 while simultaneously ridiculing Obama’s push for “socialized medicine”.) Some of you would probably rather see widespread hunger, poverty, homelessness, and illness in America than have people dependent upon the BigGovernmentMonster.
- Do you think that big government is no match for the private sector in efficiently getting large and important projects done? Big government in the United States has created great dams, marvelous national parks, an interstate highway system, the peace corps, social security, the National Institutes of Health, and the Smithsonian Institution; it’s also landed men on the moon, wiped out polio, and built up an incredible military machine (ignoring for the moment what it’s used for), and much more.
- Do you know that twice in recent years the federal government undertook major studies of many thousands of federal jobs to determine whether they could be done more efficiently by private contractors? On one occasion the federal employees won more than 80% of the time; on the other occasion 91%. Both studies took place under the Bush administration, which was hoping for different results. 14
We have to remind the American people of what they once knew but seem to have forgotten: that they don’t want BIG government, or SMALL government; they don’t want MORE government, or LESS government; they want government ON THEIR SIDE.
I think the Teapartyers are motivated primarily by two factors: 1) they don’t have the intellectual competence or ideological independence to place the blame for the sick economy where it belongs: the recklessness and greed of Wall Street, the banks, and other financial corporations; and so they blame the president and his “socialist” policies; 2) the president is black.
Mark Brzezinski, son of Zbigniew, was a post-Cold War Fulbright Scholar in Poland: “I asked my students to define democracy. Expecting a discussion on individual liberties and authentically elected institutions, I was surprised to hear my students respond that to them, democracy means a government obligation to maintain a certain standard of living and to provide health care, education and housing for all. In other words, socialism.” 15
- 2010 Arab Public Opinion Poll ↩
- William Blum, Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower, chapter 1, “Why do terrorists keep picking on the United States?”; this chapter ends in 2005; there are many more later examples, including the ones below in this report.↩
- White House press briefing, January 7, 2010 ↩
- ABC News, January 25, 2010 ↩
- Associated Press, January 7, 2010 ↩
- Washington Post, January 1, 2010 ↩
- Thanks to writer Gary Corseri for this last line. ↩
- Vorin Whan, ed. “A Soldier Speaks: Public Papers and Speeches of General of the Army Douglas MacArthur” (1965) ↩
- Associated Press, December 28, 2009 ↩
- New York Times, January 18, 2010 ↩
- Los Angeles Times, January 2, 1995 ↩
- Washington Post, September 24, 2003 ↩
- New York Times, November 3, 2010 ↩
- Washington Post, June 8, 2005 and March 23, 2006 ↩
- Los Angeles Times, September 2, 1994 ↩
William Blum is the author of:
- Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War 2
- Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower
- West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir
- Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire
Portions of the books can be read, and signed copies purchased, at www.killinghope.org
Previous Anti-Empire Reports can be read at this website.
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