It’s the Government, Stupid


One Republican line I’ve come across a few times recently is that the Occupy Wall Street movement isn’t too different from the Tea Party. Well, maybe in that neither group has clearly defined goals, but beyond that I’m not so sure. The usual jokes about the Teabaggers aside, wasn’t their original point that they didn’t like taxes? I’m not sure WHICH taxes, exactly, but tax protest was at least initially what they were all about. I don’t know that the Occupy movement has that much problem with taxes. I don’t know, but I can say for my part that I don’t have anything against the idea of taxes. I mean, they pay for things people need. Also quite a few they don’t need, true, but that’s not a point against taxes in general so much as poor priorities. The right-wing line is to blame Big Government, which is a term only they seem to use.

The way I see it, we live in a big country, so of course we’re going to need a big government! Besides, when people talk about reducing the size of government, who’s going to be the first to get the axe? Members of Congress and their flunkies, or the many government employees who are just trying to make a living? That latter category includes quite a few people I know, by the way, so I’ll admit to some bias on that issue. Still, if you’re going to protest the influence the corporate world has over politics, it is true that a significant part of the blame falls on the politicians themselves.

When some pressure group offers a politician some money with stipulations that will hurt their constituency, they do have the option of NOT TAKING IT, right? Yet pretty much all of them do anyway. Maybe it’s like what I said about gambling and the stock market, and they feel there’s no possible way to win without cheating. In most cases, it seems like we as voters don’t really have a choice. We have the Republicans, who make no bones about being in the pocket of corporate interests; and the Democrats, who admit that the system is broken but still play into it. Does being elected to a high government office just remove all ability to resist temptation? We absolutely need campaign finance reform, but is that ever going to come about when the people who vote on such things benefit so much from the crooked financing we have now?

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8 Responses to It’s the Government, Stupid

  1. Ajay Kaul says:

    I like the Venn diagram showing the overlap between the Wall Street protestors and the Tea Party. Yes – the core issue is – if the big corporations fund key elections and candidates, does the common voter really have any voice in the current democratic set up?

  2. halinabq says:

    Nate, in your previous post on capitalism you talked about the paradox that what’s good for individual corporations may well be bad for the society of which they are a part. (Think laying people off or destroying the environment to boost corporate profits.) And in this post you talk about the influence large corporations have on government policies. The common thread here is that corporations, at least the successful ones, are good at what they do (i.e. making money). If they can increase their profits by billions of dollars by investing a few million in political candidates and lobbyists, then it is in their best interests to do so, since that is a great return on investment. If they can exempt themselves from environmental regulations and thereby increase their profits, they will do so. It’s hard to blame them for doing that, since if they don’t, their competitors will, and they’ll wind up out of business. So that is the real role of governmental regulations, to ensure that corporations are not unfairly externalizing their costs to the country or indeed to the world as a whole (e.g. climate change). Unfortunately, the process doesn’t work very well when the relationship between big business and the government is so cozy, not to say downright incestuous. You think that campaign finance reform can improve the situation, but I doubt it. Ways will be found to undermine whatever limited reforms can be put in place now that the Supreme Court has decided that corporations are actually people!

    • Nathan says:

      Yeah, it’s kind of like how there are always people proposing that we should bring back the draft because Congress might think twice before declaring war if their kids might get drafted. The problem is that they would find a way to get out of it.

  3. Wait…you heard that as a Republican line? Where did you hear that from a Republican? Because I assure you that I have not met, talked to, or watched (on FNC) a single Republican or Conservative who believed that the Tea Party and the Occupy movement are similar. Juan Williams and Bob Beckel, as well as other liberals, have made that comparison, but not any conservatives. I’m very confused.

    Look, here’s a lay out. They are on exactly opposite sides of the spectrum.
    Tea Party Occupy
    Lower taxes Higher taxes (on a certain group of people)
    Less government control More Government control

    Etc.

  4. Also, if you reduce the amount of control that government has over corporations, you will reduce the amount of money that corporations pump into lobbying and special interests groups to influence government policy in their favor. More regulation of corporations won’t stop corporations from buying governmental control, even if they have to do it through even more underhanded means than before to do it.

    • Ajay Kaul says:

      I think Nathan has captured it accurately. Having mingled myself with the Occupy Wall Streeters, I can confidently say that they are against corporations wielding too much power – that doesn’t translate to more government control. The issue is when corporations control the government, the key voter issues that bring representatives into power, get trampled by the big corporations since they end up being the priority of the government.

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