Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Song and Dance Continues

I find this article regarding the current U.S. presidential election of interest not because the author has anything particularly insightful to say, but because what he says allows for a very easy examination of the desire for continuation of the shell game.

Now, it is not exactly that: the author identifies the many ways in which both the republicans and democrats are hypocritical in their faith in government, and almost inversely so.  In this, he has offered what could be considered out-of-the-box thinking as far as the mainstream media is concerned.  For example:

The Republicans claim to want smaller and less intrusive government. Yet they vehemently demand tighter government controls over abortion, immigration, marital arrangements and sexual behavior. On other politically less salient issues such as drugs, prison reform, alcohol use by young adults and doctor-patient privacy, Republicans consistently support government intervention….

The Democrats' vision of government is equally paradoxical, but in the opposite direction. The Democrats, like left-wing parties in Europe, laud the economic role of government, and especially its importance in supporting public goods and regulating business abuses. But they deny the right of government to regulate, or even try to influence, private behavior, even when it impinges on community life in such areas, for example, as marriage, child-rearing or trade union activity, especially in the public sector.

Of course, neither version is true in reality; these stereotypes are only true in terms of what is desired for the population to believe regarding the two parties.  The system is established the way it is in order to ensure that, whichever party wins, government grows.

The republicans nowhere are working for a smaller government – this certainly could have occurred under Bush with republican majorities in both houses of Congress, yet it did not.  They gave Americans a vast new program of prescription drug benefits, on top of the annual growth in virtually every department.

Even Ryan, the budget buster, shows no plan of reduced spending and his plan doesn’t balance the budget for decades.  This is somehow considered smaller and less intrusive.

And the democrats – they certainly want to regulate personal behavior – what on earth is Obamacare?  Even more obvious, democrats have much to say about the definition marriage and child rearing, just to comment on two of the examples used by the author.

While the author’s use of the stereotype serves the purpose of legitimizing the battle lines, what is interesting is that the author points out the hypocrisy in the philosophy – one cannot be consistent if advocating faith in active government in one arena and at the same time suggesting that active government is detrimental in another:

In short, the left's faith in government suddenly evaporates when it comes to social and lifestyle issues, while the conservative passion for smaller and less intrusive government only applies when money and economics are at stake.

Again, the reality is that the lines are not drawn consistent with the stereotypes, or the narrative the people are expected to believe.  However, it is correct that there is hypocrisy – and it is in both versions (which in fact are only two sides of the same story).

The author concludes with his own version of what is needed, and sadly, it involves a continuation of the current model – just a better one if only the author’s suggestions would be followed, it seems: 

What is needed instead is a reappraisal of politics and economics that recognizes that governments and markets can both make big mistakes, that macroeconomic management is needed but must not impede private enterprise, that complex new systems of checks and balances may be needed to protect and promote both public and private interests.

Talk about contradictions and hypocrisy: how can one have “macroeconomic management” that doesn’t “impede private enterprise”?  Complex new systems of checks and balances?  I am certain the author is calling for smarter bureaucracy, however in this there is no possibility.  Where does the author suggest these smarter people come from?  How might they be induced to act “better” than the last group of smart people?

There is no need for bureaucratically developed and enforced “complex new systems of checks and balances.”  The most complex system of checks and balances is also the simplest to implement.  It is called the free market.

At least he spoke plainly about the hypocrisy.  This will have to suffice: it really would have been too much to ask that the opposite (and only appropriate) conclusion be reached in a piece published at Reuters. 

UPDATE: After posting this, it dawned on me that I missed a key point.   Nowhere does the author suggest that one of the (falsely perceived) differences between the parties is on the issues of war / civil liberties / etc.  Not that there is any difference between the parties, but in the past it was always pretended as if there was - the peace-loving democrats vs. the war-mongering republicans.  (As an aside, the pretense was opposite of the usual reality - it was a democrat in office at the start of WWI, WWII, Korea, and Vietnam.)

The election of Obama may have put an end to that, as I have suggested elsewhere.  It certainly was unmentioned by the author of this article.

No comments:

Post a Comment