Now that we have concluded the annual orgy of juvenile candy extortion manifested as Halloween, and are now into the much more pensive Day of the Dead, I'm prompted to look at the potential cause of the demise of the America in which I live. In our society today, there is an unchallenged belief held by some that private is always better than public. The health insurance fracas is just one issue which incorporates this belief. There are many others. This belief could result in the end of America
One has to wonder why the alleged fears of the government running things merits so much frightened attention while the blatant and abusive excesses of the private sector are deemed beneficial to society as a whole no matter how many get hurt by the perpetrators. It is becoming obvious to me that the difference has to do with whether or not a very vocal and self-centered minority with lots of time on their hands is materially benefiting from an enterprise which exposes the general public to some variety of hazard, especially physical or economic. The public is too busy maintaining their relatively meager existence by working to be able to defend themselves from these predators, and it has been government's role since the Great Depression to be their champion. The only problem with this scenario is that prior to the Great Recession, the predators have taken over the government and are using it to protect themselves from We, the People.
In one such instance, private mining companies want to cut costs by removing the tops of mountains to gain easy access to coal seams, yet the debris created by this process has in another instance already wreaked havoc on a public unprotected from private sector abuses. This lack of defense is due to major cuts in enforcement ability foisted upon the public by our elected representatives double dipping from the private dollar till while on the public dime. But wait! There's more! On the other side of that "clean" energy commodity's usage, further damage which could have been prevented by governmental oversight has also occurred. Oh, the humanity!
One can easily extend this metaphor to the banking sector via the real estate mortgage crisis. The next wave of foreclosures is about to hit, and many banks are already being warned that if they are in danger of going under, there will be no rescue from the Federal Reserve. Yet an amount of Your Money which roughly equals the entire annual economic activity of the American economy (broken down here) has been pledged to rescue the big Wall Street banks, whose foolish gambling once responsible oversight was ended brought about the latest crisis.
One has to wonder what would have happened if real regulation was restored after the Lincoln Savings scandal, or the Silverado Savings scandal, but that very vocal and self-centered minority with lots of time on their hands saw to it that they themselves were protected from legal retribution, and not the public for whom such protections meant that this very vocal and self-centered minority with lots of time on their hands could not do them harm. But that would be bad, for business couldn't make an easy profit at the public's expense!
Can our elite businessmen compete without resorting to illegal, immoral, or traitorous activities? One has to wonder.
Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens attempted to build a wind-powered generation facility, but was stymied by the credit crunch brought about by the big Wall Street bank collapse and the difficulty of getting a transmission line built to connect to the existing energy grid. He blames it all on tight money, but is there a hint that maybe Texas' regulatory power was brought to bear to pressure Pickens not to move so quickly and threaten existing oil fortunes? The clue lies within the news that Pickens is planning several smaller facilities in other states. Meanwhile, other Texans are making deals with Chinese wind power interests to create a much larger facility along the same lines Pickens pioneered. I guess being right doesn't protect you from retribution from those whose oxen got gored.
And what of health care? No matter what the need, only the private sector is going to benefit from what "reform" emerges from the corrupted Congress. The actions being taken appear only to protect existing providers from what was going to be a total collapse of health care in the near future. According to the Congressional Budget Office, health care costs are expected to roughly double over the next 15 years (page 3 [PDF]). A goodly chunk of this increase in cost is due to those wonderful new drugs and treatments advertised on the Sunday morning Talking Head shows, but which your insurance won't cover due to their "experimental" nature. The National Coalition on Health Care (NCHC) offers similar numbers, breaking down the current health care cost for a family of four at about $13,400 a year (according to my real-world employer, my personal coverage cost is similar, so I trust this figure) and is expected to grow by 2018 to about $25,000 per year at a rate about double the expected cost-of-living wage adjustments. NCHC also reports that employer health care costs now exceed profits, which adds incentive for employers to drop medical coverage for employees.
Such a situation means the collapse of health care in America, and no industry with any kind of profitability is going to stand by while its profitability is affected! But that very vocal and self-centered minority with lots of time on their hands will see to it that they are protected, no matter how few of the public retain any viable medical coverage.
There is yet another area of defenselessness that is becoming important enough for the public to take notice. Increasingly, the United States is becoming owned or controlled by foreign interests. Those citizens who own properties desired by these interests are ready, able, and very willing to part with ownership of these increasingly troublesome management headaches for the right lucrative price. Once ownership is transfered, the citizens who work for these assets have to deal with a foreign management culture which seeks to benefit its own economy at the expense of ours, and often seeks to relocate the business – and the jobs – to their home countries. Rich man wins, poor man pays.
But the biggest property sought by these foreign interests isn't so easily transported. It's the US Government, and for all intents and purposes, the American voter selects the servants of these foreign interests while expecting domestic attention from these representatives. Party affiliation doesn't matter, as both parties have been selling the national service for almost 40 years now. And, should the US Supreme Court decide that corporate campaign contributions are legally protected by the First Amendment, dollars will speak louder than votes. With foreign-based profit figuring significantly in the plans of domestic corporations, that will be protected and the devil take the citizenry hindmost.
While I hate to advance the agenda of those who currently preach revolution against the government, it is easy to see why they feel as they do. But getting through to them that their little Glock 9mm isn't going to stand up against the latest in military technology is proving to be very difficult. Armed insurrection is not the answer, no matter how it soothes the savage inner beast.
What will work will require suffering deprivation and experiencing want, neither of which are high on the American wish list. It is also going to require that we open up to our neighbors and put away the selfish defensiveness. Cooperation built this nation, and it will be needed to rebuild it once the necessary changes come about. But I doubt that I will see this occur in my lifetime, for the poison represented by the self-aggrandizing philosophy of Ayn Rand permeates our entire society. We have to overcome the attitude that, while there is no "I" in "TEAM", it is implied when the rewards are all directed "AT ME".
With this in mind, I'd love to see that very vocal and self-centered minority with lots of time on their hands function in a world where the spoils are to be shared among those who labored to achieve the result – or the blame should it not be realized. No one is too big to fail, nor is one too small to benefit. I doubt the very vocal and self-centered minority with lots of time on their hands could adapt, and nature insists on survival of the fittest! Too bad – for them!