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Friday, June 18, 2010

A Quick Musing on Politics and Powers

Generally speaking, the dominant political power on the right (Republicans) tend to be suspicious of the growth and scope of governmental powers, but they turn a blind eye to any of the damages of corporate powers--environmental abuses, corporate fraud, low compensation toward workers, manipulation via advertising, and pushing out smaller businesses and sole proprietors (i.e., Walmart's destruction of our nation's downtown small businesses).

Generally speaking, the dominant political power on the left (Democrats) tend to be suspicious of the growth and scope of corporate powers, but they turn a blind eye to any of the damages of governmental powers--excessive and ineffective bureaucracy, fraud, corruption and misuse of public funds, the power of political machines, imposition on personal liberties, etc.

I'd be interested in a political movement that was suspicious of all dominant powers, be they corporate or governmental. I would be disposed to supporting a movement that empowered local governments, local communities, and individuals. Not a movement that promotes bare individualism at the expense of community, mind you.

Because bigger is not always better....and it's often worse.


amy frances said...

True that, man. Good thoughts. And I'm so with ya.

john doyle said...

I disagree about your read on the two parties. This I think is the PR spin, but the two parties are nearly indistinguishable in action and inaction. Both parties promote corporate excesses through government interventions on companies' behalf: tax breaks and sweet lease deals for oil companies, inadequate regulation on fossil fuels, subsidies for corporate farm interests, bank deregulation and bailouts, requiring people to buy into for-profit healthcare, long-term occupation of foreign countries that protect global corporate interests, paying out uncollectible government loans to students enrolled in expensive for-profit colleges, tax breaks for builders of low-income housing who immediately flip them for middle-class sale as soon as they're built, etc.

Government bureaucracies are bloated, inefficient, ineffective, and wasteful, especially the military, whether run by Dems or Repubs. But are they worse than corporate bureaucracies? Consider the banks, Enron, the US auto companies, BP, or any for-profit company you may have worked for. The main limitation on corporate waste is making sure enough profits go to the investors so they can waste money that otherwise would have gone toward higher worker salaries (which have been sinking in real dollars for decades) or lower product costs.

I'd be interested in a political party that worked for the people's interests, both individually and collectively, rather than for lobbyists and their clients.

Jonathan Erdman said...


I agree with you. I was citing the common perception and party platforms--you call it "the PR spin." I would say that both parties claim to be working for the people, otherwise, how can they get elected each year?

Your point is that they are indistinguishable. My question is: why does the political climate seem so polarized? If they are both working for the same things, as you suggest, then why is the "PR spin" so vitriolic? There are armies of common folk working for both parties who feel that the other side is evil/mean-spirited/ignorant/etc. And the Joe Wilsons of the world seem to be equally convinced. Is it all a show? Is there actual collusion? Or is this just your interpretation?

Perhaps what you are suggesting is that everyone believes that there is polarization, that there are important differences between the parties, yet from the practical outworking is (as you say) that the common person gets less and less, while more waste continues within powerful corporations and powerful governments. If this is the case, then perhaps my point is all the more relevant: we need political action that is committed to eliminating the excesses of all power structures, be they corporate or governmental.