As the great anchor of the election hits bottom, plummeting past feeder fish, political plankton and eyeless creatures that lurk in the depths of MSNBC and Current TV to rise during election season to lecture us on how angry we should be, the theme of the season is that the choice between Romney and Obama is the choice between big corporations and big government.
Most people have already been primed by decades of songs and shows to pick the right answer to this one. We know that corporate boardrooms are full of menacing characters who are always laundering money, dumping toxic waste on children’s playgrounds and plotting to blot out the sun. And then they temporarily step out to work in government for a few years before returning to do their sun-blotting duties.
A choice between big corporations and big government is a choice of choices and no choice at all. There isn’t much good that can be said about corporations, just as there isn’t much good that can be said about any branch of the government. The difference is that you have a choice whether to deal with a corporation or not. Unless the government mandates that you buy health insurance from one of them; because most cases where people are forced to do business with a corporation is due to government regulations.
Imagine a big corporation. A really big corporation that monopolizes as much as it can and compels you to buy its low quality overpriced services and imprisons you if you refuse to pay for them whether you use them or not.
Now imagine a CEO who has no accountability, who cannot be put on trial for his actions while serving in that position, who picks and chooses which laws to follow, who breaks the law, causes thousands of deaths, lies repeatedly and wants to spend another four years doing it all over again.
We are all shareholders of the corporation of government. A corporation whose board and CEO we can vote for, but the corporation also has a variety of undemocratic governing mechanisms that make those votes much less meaningful. And the biggest problem is that many of the shareholders are part of blocs that make money from the current unsustainable practices of the corporation and vote in bad boards that rob us blind so they can make more money.
Once upon a time, Americans were shareholders of government. Today Americans are consumers of government.
The current incarnation of the American Republic (is it the Fourth or the Fifth incarnation? At least the Europeans have the good grace to tack on those numbers) is primarily a provider of domestic services and international defense. This is a striking contrast from the older American Republic where the government provided domestic defense and not much else.
It’s simplest to think of a thing in terms of its function. With the majority of Federal spending going to Social Security and Medicare, our government is essentially an insurance company, taking a percentage of salaries and “investing” that money to provide a social safety net. Except the money isn’t invested, it’s squandered, and much of it goes to people who are not paying into the system.
As insurance companies go, our government is completely financially unreliable and untrustworthy, its payouts are poor, its customer service is terrible and the people running it would be in a jail cell if they were serving on corporate boards.
To understand what our government is, imagine a wasteful non-profit obsessed with Third World children, merged with some kind of domestic poverty charity, merged with an insurance company, attached to a bunch of umbrella trade and regulatory groups for entire industry with a huge military arm that exists to stabilize troubled regions for the business community and occasionally does pro bono genocide interventions.
This Frankenstein America monster is what the current Republic looks like and the people running it insist that this unwieldy beast, its bulky body that can hardly walk in a straight line and its deviant brain, are a massive step forward into the future. Well Dr. Frankenstein thought the same thing and whether it’s the Tea Party or OWS, there are no shortage of peasants with pitchforks out there.