Saturday, September 4, 2010

A People Gets the Government It Deserves

"A people gets the government it deserves."  The former president of the United Auto Workers Union, Doug Fraser, said that to me while riding in a taxi cab downtown from Columbia University.  The year was circa 1990.  I was a doctoral student and Fraser was a visiting scholar at the Business School.

Although I disagreed with Fraser politically he made an excellent point.  Earlier that week I showed him an article about him in the newspaper of the Socialist Workers' Party, the Militant, that was being sold right outside the Columbia main gate.  I bought a copy as a goof and there was an article about the guy whose lecture I was about to hear.  The Militant didn't like Fraser, nor did Michael Moore, whose film 1988 Roger and Me criticizes the UAW leadership as being too friendly to management.  Fraser had stepped down in 1983 (he passed away in 2008).

What kind of government does America deserve?  Most of the Republicans I know are unhappy with the way things are going, but are eager to vote for establishment candidates who aim to continue the course.  Most of the Americans I know suspect that things have not gone well but do not trouble themselves to question the economic policies of the politicians for whom they vote, returning the same politicians to office who created the policies that caused thing to go the way they are going.

In my town, Olive, NY, a large percentage of Republicans, more than half, refused to sign nominating petitions. Many complained that they did not know anything about the candidates.  When I suggested that they attend Town Committee meetings they refused. 

Most Americans accept the opinions espoused on television and in their local newspapers, not questioning whether the government that has resulted from those opinions is functioning fairly, competently or liberally. Or, they complain about the way things are but do not trouble themselves to learn about why things are going that way. 

When confronted with alternatives, such individuals prefer the tried and true path, true to the trend of a reduction in their standard of living and their freedom.  The worst among them are the party activists who assume that the same slop that the GOP has served for the past two decades is just delicious and they definitely intend to serve it again even though it is warmed over for the twentieth time.

A people get the government they deserve.  To quote Alfred E. Neumann as my response to Doug Fraser, "What--me worry?"

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Republican Paradox

Several of my friends support Rick Lazio for Governor of New York State.  Lazio had worked as a lobbyist for JP Morgan and had helped arrange Morgan's $25 billion bailout. No greater expansion of government power has occurred in the past two decades.  In exchange for his help in facilitating the expansion of government, JP Morgan paid Lazio a one million dollar bonus.  In addition, Lazio is on record in support of abortion.  As well, Lazio is entrenched in the same self destructive New York GOP that has allowed Alfonse D'Amato to play the GOP against itself in favor of the Democrats.  It is the same GOP  that continues to support Governor George Pataki, whose last term in office involved expansion of state government, an alliance with the state's Service Employees International Union boss Dennis Rivera and corrupt indifference to extensive Medicaid fraud.  These patterns cannot be excused by the State Assembly's Democratic majority or the state's liberal ideology, as even the left-wing New York Times took issue with the criminality in Medicaid that flourished during the Pataki administration.

It is thus puzzling that so many Republicans continue to favor Rick Lazio for governor, the GOP establishment's choice. These Republicans seek an outsider with considerable establishment experience.  That is, someone who supports less government but has spent his life earning a living through big government.   I would support Paladino if only to keep Lazio out of office, and a candidate who makes a 20% budget cut the centerpiece of his platform is certainly preferable to a paid lobbyist for JP Morgan. Another Pataki-like fraud would simply be too discrediting to the GOP.

The Republicans have grown used to dissonance between words and deeds.  The dissonance has become so sharp that the party's image has deteriorated and will not recover until new personnel are introduced at the highest levels.  Mr. Pataki and Mr. D'Amato are relics and do not belong in any leadership role.  Likewise, candidates such as Michael Bloomberg and Rick Lazio with big government track records need to be purged.  There is nothing moderate about the the bailout that Mr. Lazio facilitated. It is not mainstream; it is not "conservative".  The bailout was an extreme, self-indulgent, radical expansion of government, a violent taking of money by the powerful from those less powerful, and those participating in it lack the moral fiber to play any prominent role in government.