Update appended below. (Second indented quote format also corrected.)
In the Comments thread to Dan Crawford’s post below titled “Kalamazoo County Michigan…People and Offices to Write to Protest the Stealing of a Home,” I wrote:
Dan, you don’t understand. This is freedom, see. I mean, it’s not like it’s the FEDERAL government that’s doing this. It’s a local government that is doing it, so how could this be anything other than freedom! liberty!??
A huge part of the Conservative Movement has been to simply shift the funding of government from progressive taxation to exorbitant fines and fees for traffic violations, parking tickets, misdemeanors of other sorts, property forfeitures of large amounts of money or homes or cars, home foreclosures and forfeiture of the entire proceeds from the sale of the home for failure to pay a small property tax bill (including if you didn’t know that it was due or was not paid).
This is all part of freedom! Liberty! The private contractors for government services and operations, and the police and judges whose conflict of interest ensures the more-than-adequacy of this method of government funding, have to be paid, y’know.
In the last two weeks, the Washington Post has run a slew of articles on all this. Links to some of the articles are:
In that thread, Dan linked to an Alternet article by David Morris about two Kentucky officeholders, a town mayor and a state senator, cousins both with the last name Girder, who are on opposing sides of the “Government is the problem, not the solution” slogan = policy thing. The article explains:
On July 19, after years of complaints about local gasoline prices being higher than those in surrounding communities, the city of Somerset decided to take matters into its own hands and began selling gasoline directly to the public. Two-term state senator Chris Girdler immediately declared, “socialism is alive and well in Somerset.” Two-term mayor Eddie Girdler, a distant cousin, responded, “If government doesn’t do it to protect the public, then who does it?”
In an interview, Girdler, paraphrasing Ronald Reagan’s famous dictum insisted, “the government is not the answer—government’s the problem.” Regrettably the interviewer did not remind the readers that government laid the very foundation of Somerset’s economy. In 1950 the Army Corps of Engineers completed construction of one of the largest man-made lakes in the world. A little over 100 miles in length with an average depth of 85 feet, Lake Cumberland “transformed Somerset from a sleepy rural community into one of the largest recreation centers in Kentucky, drawing more than 1.7 million visitors annually.” It would have been instructive to discover whether Sen. Girdler would describe Lake Cumberland as a “socialist enterprise.”
Girdler wants to protect us from big government. Senator Girdler approvingly cites Ronald Reagan’s famous dictum, “You can’t be for big government, big taxes and big bureaucracy and still be for the little guy.” Mayor Girdler wants to protect us from the predations of big giant corporation and he views government as a proper vehicle for doing so. “It’s the role of government to protect us from big business,” he maintains.
So there you have it: You can’t be for big government, big taxes and big bureaucracy and still be for the little guy. Uh-uh. No, Sir. No way. The way to be for the little guy is to remove all government protections vis-à-vis private corporations and state and local police forces and courts. It means privatizing traditional government operations and services, and funding government operations and services (whether already privatized, or instead still directly operated by state, local, or the federal government) entirely by huge, spiraling fines and fees for trivia, and by confiscating cash and homes and cars to resell.
Being for the little guy also means allowing banks to do whatever they please, including making billions of dollars a year in fees for tiny overdrafts—something that the Democratic-controlled House and Senate, and Obama, banned via statute in 2010—and including allowing mortgage companies to misrepresent mortgage terms. And it means allowing monopolistic credit card companies to charge small businesses outrageous rates for small credit card purchases by their customers. So in order to be for the little guy, we damn well better repeal the several laws that prohibit these things, enacted by Congress and signed into law by Obama in the two years before the Dems lost control of the House and lost their filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.
Yes, Sir. We’re talkin’ being for the little guy, here!
Being for the little guy also means, of course, removing Big Government—or any government—from direct involvement in, or regulation of, college-student loan programs. Access to higher education is not an appropriate function of government. I know this for a fact, because this was an official policy of the Reagan administration, expressly stated by a member of Reagan’s cabinet. Which explains not just the dramatic reduction of reasonable-interest-rate student loans since, y’know, 1981, but also the extreme reduction in direct state and indirect federal funding for state public universities and colleges—since, y’know, 1981.
Uh-huh. The Conservative Movement, and certainly the Conservative Legal Movement, are all about sleight-of-hand redefinitions of common terms, and rely in the extreme on the idea of government-by-slogan, government-by-cliché.
The Koch brothers are little guys. Who knew?
This continues to work well for them so often, politically, because the Democrats have allowed it to, by failing—refusing—to address it, in particulars, head-on.
To wit: The witless campaign that Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Kentucky Dem nominee for Senate, is running in her effort to dethrone Mitch McConnell. Hey, Ms. Grimes: How’s that I’m-a-tough-Kentucky-woman-so-Kentucky-women-will-vote-for-me campaign goin’ for ya? Might it now be time to try somethin’ different? Like, addressing specifics of Dem public policy and recent Dem legislative achievements—and Repub votes on such things? Nah. You’re a tough Kentucky woman! So policy won’t matter in the outcome of the election.
Which it won’t, you can be absolutely sure, as long as you don’t deign to mention any of it. Are you really gonna allow election day to come without, like, informing the electorate that, uh, Kynect is—OMG!—Obamacare, and that McConnell has promised to defund it if the Repubs gain control of the Senate? I mean … really?
This woman’s campaign, more than any other this year, just dismays me. Then again, I myelf don’t give a damn that she’s a tough Kentucky woman. (Or, for that matter, that she’s a woman.) And apparently, either do all that many Kentucky women. She may well be tough. But tough, it turns out, is not the same thing as gutsy.
I’m so, so, so, so, so, so tired of watching this kind of campaign—this flaccid, craven, I’m-embarrassed-that-I’m-a-Democrat genre—from Democrats.
Especially since IT DOESN’T WORK. Really; it doesn’t work.
UPDATE: Well, well. Our newest wingy troller, Jack, wasted only 16 minutes after I posted this post before commenting:
The standard false dichotomy fallacy — if you’re against Big Government, you must be against ALL government.
The Powers of the U.S. government is clearly spelled out in its Constitution, and the States and the people retain the rest. If you say that those who want the U.S. government to not exceed the Powers given to it by the States in the Constitution, want no U.S. government at all, then you must believe that the States, in that Constitution, ceded no Powers at all to the central government.
I, in turn, wasted only 18 minutes—I’m just not as quick as he is; I’m a liberal, after all—before replying:
Ah. That’s right, Jack. The issue isn’t what powers the Constitution–the original document, the Bill of Rights, the succeeding amendments (including the reconstruction amendments) give to the federal government vis-a-vis the states. No, the issue is cliches referencing the enumerated powers, but of course only generically.
I do understand that your brand of constitutional interpretation holds that Freedom! Liberty! means he freedom of state and local governments to violate even the most fundamental of constitutional and human rights of individuals–as long as those rights don’t involve, y’know, gun-ownership rights or one of the other select few rights that you folk hold dear.
I also understand that you and your ilk conflate laisse faire economic and fiscal policy with “the enumerated powers”. You’re Rorschach interpretation of the Constitution is tiresome and ridiculous, albeit widely recited, mantra-like, by the far right.
Ideology is not the same as fact. Nor is it the same as the enumerated powers. Except, that is, when, as now, there is an aggressive hijacking of constitutional law by five members of the Supreme Court and Federalist Society lower-level federal appellate judges.
Enough said? No. But that’ll have to do, for now.