Small Government: One Small Fly in the Ointment

Small Government

A BIG LITTLE PROBLEM - Sometimes it's amazing just how big small government can be

Conservatives – especially their tea partying faction – are yelling, “Hell no! We won’t grow!” in their quest for government with a microscopic “G”. Their biggest quibble with St. Ronnie of Reagan’s government isn’t the solution, it’s the problem mantra was that he didn’t lay off the entire government (except for a staggeringly expensive, ass-kicking military…and it’s associated contractors and arms makers) and outsource everything to the states, or preferably, India by way of multinational conglomerates.

I suspect they’ll be getting a rude awakening soon. They’ll find it next to impossible to fight the strong running political tide, agree on what needs to be shed, or even agree on what small government means.

For example, arch-conservative Michele Bachmann wanted to prohibit earmarks only to find that, oops, her state wouldn’t get any money either. Suddenly her perception of pork changed in the face of angry voters who saw that Michele’s financial acumen was roughly equivalent to a high school home economics course in buying canned hams at rock bottom prices.


SOLUTIONS - Ain't that the truth?

One man’s crumbling highway is another’s canned ham. Let those drivers give up the ham. They need to be put on the fiscally conservative South Beach Minnesota Diet. Same for those homeless people too by golly. It’ll be good for their no account goldbricking asses.

Conservatives never met a regulation they liked – unless it benefits them or is written by lobbyists. And one of the biggest government expenditures of all is creating and enforcing regulations. The baggers and Republi-Goobs are of a similar mind that only the private sector is smart enough to do anything – apparently ignoring that whole financial derivatives thing. But who’s counting.

So here’s an idea.

Regulations and regulators are a huge chunk of the budget, right? The Tax and Spend It All on Me Crowd frequently reminds us, usually in high-pitched squeaky voices, that the private sector is where smart, upstanding CEOs can do anything. They even have big paychecks to prove it.

Since the Supreme Activist Court (SACOTUS) took it upon themselves to give corporations Constitutional rights far and away more important than the rights of all individual citizens combined, it makes sense that corporations would be the very picture of responsible citizens in thanks. And smart as whips too.

So, corporations are just terrific, and honest, and thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent. We know this because Cryin’ John Boehner and the boys tell us so. So, how about we just trust them to do the right thing? No need to regulate when the free market unfailingly leads companies to the path of righteousness and honor.

We’d cut thousands of regulators in a jiffy. Legislators would have absolutely nothing to do except rubber stamp appropriations bills for the War du Jour. And lobbyists? Well, they’d become pro bono advisers to a micro-government that runs as smooth as BP oil rushing out of a broken wellhead. Yeah, THAT’S the ticket!

Um, only one small fly in the ointment on that one. Forget I mentioned anything.

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Too Many Regs, Not Enough Regs, Let’s Just Cap the Thing

Beyond Petroleum?

TO STUPIDITY AND BEYOND! - Untold environmental damage, thousands out of work, and no one knows what the hell to do. As usual, there's plenty of blame to go around.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with conservatism or liberalism. A healthy democracy needs both to survive. Perhaps the biggest political disagreements today are over the need for, or lack of, regulation. Generally speaking, conservatives want almost no regulation and liberals want a regulation for every possible contingency – the more punitive the better. Spring-loading the nation’s governance to one or the other is a recipe for disaster.

Speaking of disasters, how about that spew pit at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico? It’s the perfect example – and distressingly easy to find.

Before the hole leaked much more than Jiffy Lube uses on the average oil change, conservatives were chanting “DRILL MORE BABY, DRILL MORE!” They called for BeePee to take care of things themselves because, after all, they were honorable people who’d never bait and switch a fly. Top conservatives cited causes for the problem – from a plot by the O-Man to blow up the well as a way of skipping out on his positive position on offshore drilling to overbearing regulations that choked those poor oilmen like dust belching from a dry well.

Regulate the Thieving British Bastards!
On the other hand, liberals saw the BeePers as a latter day evil empire with a fork-tongued Dick Cheney at the helm of the Death Star. They cried ‘DRILL NO MORE, DRILL NO MORE! – ANYWHERE” and advocated regulating the thieving British bastards within an inch of their multi-national lives.

Guess what? They were both right…and wrong.

The failure in this case isn’t the number or kind of regulations, it’s the failure of BeePee to willingly follow the existing regulations and government regulators too busy watching porn, sleeping with lobbyists, and generally operating like crack heads with an inexhaustible supply of rocks to get any regulatin’ done.

As more becomes known about the events leading up to the disaster, it is becoming clear that allowing BeepPeep to regulate itself was like asking the fox to guard the hen house. They blew through dozens of safety procedures and regulations and lobbied hard to weaken existing precautions. They claimed to have plans for disastrous spills, but it turned out the “plan” consisted mostly of PowerPoint slides containing the BP logo and a “We’re BP, GO GREEN!” slogan in the header. That was followed by the same content on every slide – “TBD”.

Profit of Doom

PROFIT OF DOOM - At BP, profit is sacred.

Now, people are clamoring for the government to step in and clean up BP’s mess. James Carville is apoplectic that The Messiah™ take over lest we have another Katrina PR moment. The problem is one of those “TBD” PowerPoint slides currently represents the “fix”. No one knows what the hell to do because no one has been here before and BP didn’t come up with a plan because the aforementioned fornicating crack heads didn’t make them.

If, and when, the oil stops, hearings are warranted. However, instead of each politician spewing windy soliloquies on the dangers of Big Oil – or how swell those poor, beleaguered folks are – how about they just ask simple, tough questions? If they evade or simply don’t answer, compel the oily suits to. In addition, those miscreants in MMS have some ‘splainin’ to do too. Ask similarly tough questions and get similarly truthful and complete answers from them. If not, slap meaningful fines and make heads roll as appropriate. When all the talking is done and we’re deciding what to do, don’t ask “can we regulate more” ask, “should we regulate more”.

A Fat Man in a Room With Krispy-Kremes
If both parties are truthful to themselves, liberals will find most of the regulations we need are already there. Conservatives should look past that seductress Ayn Rand and her talk of free markets, greed being good, and the perfect order of capitalism and think of corporate behavior from their own perspective. Self regulation is like locking a fat man in a room with 20 dozen Krispy-Kremes.

If you could make millions of dollars a minute by skipping the odd safety check or not issuing safety gear to the clean up people, would you do it? My guess is that if you’re an unrepentant capitalist, you’d convince yourself that is exactly what the market calls for and you’d be doing the world a favor by being so generous as to take the big money and put it to work investin’ and yacht shoppin’, and whatnot.

After that, we need regulators who enforce regulations instead of acting like hormone-crazed freshmen at a frat party. They check and double check to enforce the idea that corporations are part of the market and need to act sensibly, not like Daddy Warbucks on a Red Bull high.

Congress and the President need to ensure both sides are behaving and not spare the rod to spoil the petulant government and corporate children. And we the people must do the same thing with the Congress and President.

Psht! Yeah, like that’ll happen.

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