Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Check your Wallets and Bring a Snorkel -- Grover's Baaaaack

We think in generalties, but we live in detail.
Alfred North Whitehead

Our Gropinating Governor is promoting an initiative for the November ballot that would put a cap on state spending. It's called the "Live Within Our Means Act," and folks promoting this hope it will become the next Proposition 13. That alone should give people pause.

In a July 25th L.A. Times story, it is noted: "This is the next big thing at the state level," said Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist, one of the country's leading anti-tax activists. 'A lot of groups have become involved . . . Soon you will see it on the ballot in every initiate state."

If Grover Norquist is lurking behind this initiative -- and he is -- be afraid. Be very afraid. This is the guy who wants to starve government down to a size that it can be strangled in a bathtub. The philosophy of anti-tax conservatives like Norquist (and Dick Armey, who's also pushing this initiative) is simple: You want a national park? Go buy one of your own.

In short, for conservatives like Norquist, The Commons has no value. It has been the mantra heard relentlessly since the "Reagan Revolution." The Commons is Commie! Government is wicked and can do nothing right. Privatize! Privitize! The free market can do no wrong. Let the marketplace decide. The "we" in "We the people" is no longer operative. We conservatives are NOT a "We" in "We the people." We conservatives for "tax reform" and strangled governments are really just a bunch of people who don't mind benefiting from all kinds of governmental programs, but we want The Other Guy to pay for it, not us.

Hilariously, Norquist, Army and now, our Gropinator, will have no trouble conning a whole lot of people into going along with this deal. After all, isn't the initiative's title just too perfect? "Live Within Our Means Act." Who could object to that?

Well, Colorado, for one, where a Republican Governor is futilely trying to get an initiative passed to lift a similar budget cap Colorado has had in place because the cap has resulted in a crumbling infrastructure (Bridge fell down? Go rebuild it yourself with a few bags of Quickrete) and decaying school system (You got kids? Send 'em to private school or home school them yourself. Public schools are a sinkhole of liberal propaganda and a total waste of money. Why should I pay to educate your kids. That's your responsibility.), and bankrupt social services. (Don't earn enough money to be able to buy private health insurance? Don't boo-hoo to me. I shouldn't be expected to pay for Medicaid. Go die in the street.) And don't expect The Government to clean up all the dead bodies lying around in the street either. People shouldn't be expected to pay taxes to pick up dead bodies on the street. That's your responsibility since the street now belongs to you and it's up to you and your neighbors to maintain it. That's not government's job.

For people in California who have watched the iniquities and shortages caused by Proposition 13, this new initiative is simply deja vu all over again.

The puzzle with Grover & Gang and this new initiative is why so many people will again be bamboozled by the siren song of "Pudding for ME but Stick The Other Guy With The Bill," even after Enron proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that free markets often DON'T work, that government's often DO work, that the collective "We" CAN create valuable benefits for ourselves.

(For an example of the height of hypocrisy concerning "free marketers" you only have to look at the Medicare drug bill that President Bush gleefully signed. That bill forbids -- FORBIDS -- the government (Medicare) from negotiating with drug companies for lower pill prices -- the very tactic huge mega companies like WalMart and CostCo use very day to get better deals for their customers, the very tactic that free marketers everywhere cite as one of the benefits of letting the market decide. Instead, our free-market Prez gave away the farm to big Pharma and stuck the taxpayer with the bill. The philosophy of the Medicare drug bill is absolutely clear and a perfect illustration of Norquistism: Lots of nice pudding for Big Pharma, the bill to the little guy.)

But come November, we'll see California again being conned by the same short-sightedness that gave us Proposition 13, which was a quick fix that created even more problems down the road that we're still not dealing with, except with expensive patches. All caused because we refuse to understand that there is no free lunch, that we get what we pay for, that individually we are helpless against powerful, organized corporations (who make sure that they get our pudding while sticking us with the bill), but gathered into an enormous Commons, we have unlimited power to get (and pay a reasonable price for) all kinds of pudding for ourselves.

That rather obvious result of taking The Commons seriously (our pudding for ourselves) seems beyond the grasp of so many people. Which begs a question: Are Americans stupid? Have they been brainwashed by so many lies they no longer know truth from fabrication? Have we as a nation become so childish and helpless that we actually think we're not worthy of getting pudding? Do we actually believe that our pudding should be given to the rich and powerful while we get nothing except the bill?

If so, then it's not government that needs strangling in the bathtub, it's We The People who will drown, thereby getting exactly what we deserve. Pure comedy, with running water.

1 comment:

Robert Lindsay said...

Great post and great blog. I just gave a link in a recent piece on New Orleans. Very perceptive tie-in with Grover Norquist.