Posts Tagged ‘free-market


The Problem With Ideology

Let me set the stage. During the last eight years of governance, the Republicans supported their party leader and the Democrats checked their spines at the Capitol doors whilst Bush and Cheney did their patent best to lead this country off a cliff. Almost all the Republicans I know refuse to defend Bush’s record and repeat over and over that they had no idea Bush would be such a wretched president. Disappointment knew no boundaries.

So you would think, after the last 8 years, there would at least be some shift in the Republican message – especially after the trouncing the majority of American voters gave them in the last election. But no, they are hanging on to their failed ideas and policy as though the last eight years were just a dream.

Why would they be so clueless? Why would they be so clinically in denial regarding not only the failure of their policies, but the fact that the majority of Americans wish to change course away from Right-wing lunacy? The answer: ideology, or the body of doctrine, myth, belief, etc.

The Republicans are a party of ideologues. Right-wing commentators are ideologues. Religious leaders are ideologues. Uneducated, anti-intellectuals are ideologues.

The problem with an ideologue is that they tend to focus on the theories inherent in their adopted ideology without regard given to potential or realized negative repercussions of said ideology. No matter what may occur because of the practice of that ideology, negative results are blamed on external factors and positive consequences are credited to the ideology. The ideology is never wrong.

Obviously, progress of humanity is determined by the species’ ability to learn and adapt. Actions tend to have positive or negative consequences and learning helps one to avoid negative consequences. Evidence and data are drawn upon in the decision-making process and thus, improve decisions and development.

Not with ideologues. Evidence and information are disregarded in strict adherence to the core, fundamental theory presented in the ideology. Reality has no weight, no bearing in the presence of ideology.

Here are some examples:

  • The gross misconduct of the financial sector was enabled by the freeing of the market by ideologue politicians. Despite the globalized economy, despite the proven nature of many men to serve his greed when times are ripe, despite every indicator of human behavior, free marketeers still believe that capitalism in its purest form (which is an impossibility) is the answer to all economic questions.
  • Abstinence-only education has been proven to increase teen pregnancy and abortion. Yet, pro-lifers insist that sex education, and the information such education  proffers, should be excluded from school curricula. Sex education = less abortions. Abstinence only = more abortions. Yet, their ideology prevents them from adopting the wiser of the two educational options.
  • U.S. guns laws are so lax, that 90 percent of the guns used in Mexico’s drug war, which is spilling across the southern U.S. borders, come from America. The selling of arms at gun shows is so unrestricted that even a drug cartel member could easily attend one of these conventions and purchase arms to take south. Yet, should one member of the national government even suggest limiting access to assault weapons – just assault weapons – the gun lobby goes ape shit. Obviously, the more the government limits access to arms, the fewer arms will be in the hands of criminals. But gun lobbyists are ideologues. Why the feel the need to allow every Tom, Dick and Harry to own an AK-47 is beyond me and the data that this policy endangers far more people than it protects is widespread. But ideology is strong and blinds people to the obvious effects of their decisions.
  • The legalization of marijuana would weaken drug cartels, increase the use of intensely beneficial hemp plant, help multitudes of medical patients, bolster the economy in certain geographic areas, increase efficacy of police forces and decrease prison populations. Marijuana overdoses, unlike those of alcohol, are unheard of. And the criminalization of marijuana has more to do with this country’s cotton lobby history that protecting its citizens. Yet an antiquated ideology regarding the substance prevents the majority of the population from recognizing the benefits of its legalization.

Ideology hampers progress. It hampers positive change and forms a mental prison around those comforted by stale and erroneous memories. It is a crutch for the weak-minded and those afraid to recognize reality and make painful, unfair decisions that might improve circumstances and take us beyond that which holds us back.

Remember, if you were taught an ideology vehemently by your elders from the time you were an infant, and believe it with the entirety of your heart as an adult, without question  – it is probably wrong. And handicapping. And your insistence on holding on to this crutch, this blindfold, hurts all of us. Consider evidence, information, data, reality to the contrary.

Ideology thrives on the limiting of information and lack of education. Take North Korea, the Taliban, the FLDS, Jonestown, Bloods and Krypts, Branch Dividian, white supremacists, child-molesting priests. Strict adherence to ideology is and was the lifeblood of these cults, religions, predators.

That’s why Democracy is such a good system of government. By shining the light of information into dark corners and allowing people to think for themselves, educate themselves and separate themselves from the bounds of ideology, better discussions and debates are had and better decisions are made.

Good decisions are good simply because their results are constructive, not because they help prop up some useless ideology.


Why Are Oil Prices So Volatile?

Hint: It ain’t supply and demand.

Last night, 60 Minutes aired an invaluable report explaining the roller coaster oil prices – a must-watch (or must-read, if you prefer the trascript) for anyone confuzzed by the inanity of the energy market.

Spoiler: those manipulative bastards from Enron make a comeback.

Video and transcript here. Really, watch it or read it.


Corporations Too Big To Fail

Here in the U.S., we celebrate unrepentant capitalism. Conservatives constantly ward against punishing success with higher taxes. Friedman and Greenspan followers across the land espouse unfettered, free market ideals.

Now, an unprecedented lack of regulation has brought many of these bastions of unfettered success to the brink of failure. Despite greedy management and poor decision-making, our government has deemed AIG, Citibank, and probably the Big Three too big to fail.

Question: Why should we allow these corporations to grow so big they hold the U.S. (and, thus, global) economy hostage? Why should we promote free markets that allow these corporations to be rewarded with tax payer money for years of shitty operations?

I understand the government must do what it must and shore up these weak giants. Wouldn’t it be prudent (I hate that word), however, to exert regulatory measures that prevent these corporations from being able to hold our country by the balls? From continuing this Corporatocracy of America?


Pharmaceutical Company To Disclose Payments To Doctors

I’d put the hallalujahs off for just a minute, though.

According to AP, Eli Lilly and Co. has said they will report payments made to doctors over $500 for services, speeches, etc. How unusual.

The pharmaceutical industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the world. Every time you go to the doctor, they have another prescription for you. Words such as “bi-polar disorder,” “anxiety disorder,” “clinical depression,” “attention deficit disorder,” and so many more are in our everyday vernacular. Do you fee sad sometimes and then happy sometimes? Well, that’s not right! Have a pill and this pill and this pill even though we have no idea who their chemical interactions will affect your body!

Do you think any of those diseases exist in developing world? No, they have to deal not with disorders of conveniences, but actual maladies such as starvation and AIDS and tuberculosis. Drugs do not cost nearly as much in those areas of the world because people could never dream of affording them and entire countries’ economies would face collapse. The cost of one pill here in the U.S. could feed the population of Sub-Sarahan Africa.

We’ve raised a population of entitled Americans who expect easy street and look to quick fixes when times get tough. We don’t even need to leave our bedrooms to have anything we need in the world. Is it a coincidence that obesity numbers go up the same time as depression and a infinitesimal amount of other diseases increase? I don’t think so.

Furthermore, the drug companies use people as their guinea pigs by pushing drugs far too quickly through governmental approval – though many times due to pressure by patients. Many times, these drugs prove to cause extreme harm over the long period. You know every time you turn on daytime TV and some ambulance-chaser is talking about Vioxx? There you go.

The drug companies pour a load the money they make with their high-priced drugs into the pockets of doctors who recommend them and write prescriptions and the law makers who decide (de)regulation. Ever heard of Medicare? As Wikipedia says, “According to Marcia Angell, the former head of the New England Journal of Medicine, ‘The United States is the only advanced country that permits the pharmaceutical industry to charge exactly what the market will bear.'”

Drugs that Americans depend on to live and stay healthy will cost them the quality of their life simply because of corporate greed and the idea of “free market” which does not exist in this country. Drug companies will tell you that their profits are focused on providing more products. They don’t reveal the salaries of their executives. It’s sickening, really.

So, now Eli Lilly and Co. says they will disclose doctor payments in expression of good will. AP reports,

Dr. Peter Lurie, deputy director of the health research group at Public Citizen, said the state laws can let patients know when their doctors have a connection to a drug firm, but the state laws are not working very well. The laws have various exemptions and sometimes don’t even disclose the information to the public, he said.

Lurie was skeptical that Eli Lilly’s announcement represented a step forward on the issue of more transparency in health care.

“There are dozens of pharmaceutical companies. This is just one of them. Most won’t follow this guideline at all, and there will be no enforcement,” Lurie said. “This is Ely Lilly’s attempt to forestall the federal legislation by saying we’re in effect complying anyway.”

Needless to say, my skepticism remains high. Why wouldn’t Eli Lilly disclose all payments? How many of the payments they issues are under $500?

High drug prices are simply another example of the myth of the free market and “American capitalism.” This manner of economic laissez-faire hurts the lower economic echelons – which is the majority of Americans. Until we start being honest about the reality of our lack of regulation, American voters will never demand better treatment from the Corporatocracy our country has become. Socialism is not a bad word and does not work in its pure form. But for our citizens to reap the benefits of economic growth, we must pepper our capitalism with a bit of socialism. Pro-capitalism is not patriotic. Being honest is.


Review: Maxed Out

Are documentaries getting better or is it just me? At least, they’re getting more interesting. Last night, I watched Maxed Out: Hard Times, Easy Credit and the Era of Predatory Lending (2006) and must offer my highest recommendations to those considering adding to their rental “queue.”

maxed out

While this documentary is certainly a biased vehicle through which writer, director, producer James Duncan Scurlock expresses his opinions on the unethical credit industry and the government’s collusion, it nevertheless provides an eye-opening paradigm behind the every-man’s everyday experience with credit card companies. If you think you have it bad, watch this documentary – for real – and you’ll feel like you’re living large and in charge. And happiness is all in the mind, which is why the Danish are on top of the world.

It’s easy to take away from Maxed Out the the significance of the lack of regulation of the unethical credit industry by the government. It’s so cute when the Republicans and Libertarians parade their free market ideals and forget that the human element prevents these theories from successfully materializing, despite all the good intentions and numerical data. And they want to open the health care industry in the same manner – unregulated, free market doctors, medicine, scalpels. Yeah, that will work out real well! Lack of regulation has proven so effective in the housing industry, which has resulted in mass foreclosures and helped initiate a recession, and global trade, which provides us Americans cheap consumer goods by taking advantage of poor working conditions outside of our borders. Don’t ask don’t tell and the like.

What we need is a combination of economics and anthropology. The human element – which differs from culture to culture – inhibits capitalism, socialism or communism in their pure forms. China has had to mix capitalism with their brand of communism. The U.S. will never fully achieve a free market system that does not victimize the lowest common denominator. Until economists and legislators alike realize this fundamental reality and Americans stop falling for the right-wing line that all their taxes and all the government regulation only benefit the undeserving over the hard worker, we’re going to have these economic meltdowns – most especially when a Republican Congress rubberstamps a Republican White House.

But I digress as I often do.

Maxed Out hit home for me especially as I am a poster-child for financial misunderstanding and irresponsibility. To put it mildly, I bit off more than I could chew when I was in college and partied like a rock star in my early twenties. And while it can take a week to ruin your credit, it can take a lifetime to repair it. The cards are stacked against you and the system is designed to squeeze every penny from your cold, dead hands. It’s grotesque.

As a wise, old 30-something (does 30 count as 30-something?), I have seen the light and rectified my ways. What I have taken from my experience, however, is the belief in the necessity of financial training for children – especially teens. We have typing class, calculus, electives, foreign languages and yet the very basics of money-management is exempt from regular school curricula. I’m very happy to have learned about STD’s and what PCP does to the human and mice brains. But the development of my adulthood would have been greatly improved had the Texas School Board of Education seen fit at some point to include information on CHECKING ACCOUNTS, OVERDRAFT FEES, FICO SCORES, etc., etc., etc…

Few other skills in life rank above that of money management and merely having a weekly allowance doesn’t cut it. I have no idea why there are not parents at every PTO meeting calling for the inclusion of such education. We are left to our own devices and my devices were fairly shitty. I’m improving bit by bit (my stepdad gives me a subscription to Money Magazine), but you know it’s a long, hard slog and watching college loan payments the size of luxury car payments head into the wind every month still stings.

Quality of life is determined by the quality of our decisions and the quality of our decisions is largely dependent on the quality of our training and education. I knew nothing of finance when I entered my twenties, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to let avoidable circumstances dictate the outcome of my financial existence.

So, be smart, get learned and watch Maxed Out. Cause that shit is crazy.


THOROUGH Assessment of Ron Paul

This is quite a long blog because it’s one I take very seriously. I’ve bolded each issue though, in the case you don’t want to read every word (most of you, i’m sure!)

I’ve been avoiding writing this, hoping Ron Paul and his followers would see the writing on the wall at some point and exit stage left. But noooooo, they’re on some strange campaignphetamine and have forsaken all hold on reality in hopes their insanity will somehow be affirmed by a miraculous success that “the media can’t ignore!”

The followers want the Republican nomination to remain unsettled until the convention have launched a movement calling on all followers to try and become delegates at the National Convention. I won’t go so far as to say they want to steal the nomination, but they are trying to round up enough delegates who will vote Ron Paul either after their first choices have dropped out or even abdicate the position of the voters in their state or district, which they represent. You can read the views of these “enthusiasts” on the “Become a Delegate or Ron Paul will NOT be President” site and this Ron Paul Forum entry from Feb. 5 which the author titles “Things going according to plan. Don’t lose hope.” The rules for Republican delegate obligations are varied and described a bit on The Republican Source.

In light of the intent by Ron Paul supporters’ to attempt (no matter how serious) to hijack the Republican Convention, it’s time for me to pitch in chronicle my assessment of this cracker jack.

The Bush Effect

In the early stages of the campaign, I knew Ron Paul didn’t have a chance in hell of garnering the Repub nomination. Paul’s following is a result of what I call “The Bush Effect.” If it were not for the turmoil perpetrated by Bush and Cheney over the last seven years, much of what we’re seeing on the political landscape today wouldn’t have been possible. I never would have considered Hillary for president, a fairly green senator from Illinois would have to put in a few more years on the national level before being taken seriously, and the immense increase of democrat voter turnout over Republican voter turnout would have been a dream.

Ron Paul’s candidacy falls into this category. Never would such a rabid following of enthusiasts who have very little understanding of the development of civilization, the dynamics of a successful government and electoral science have been able to coalesce around a fringe, Libertarian candidate so well that he garners more votes than Mayor 9/11 himself, Giuliani, and participates in all meaningful Republican debates.

The unendingly wretched decisions of Goober Bush and Diablo Cheney have made the impossible possible.

Initial Interest and Approval

Ron Paul at a glance seems like a great candidate for change. He labels himself a Libertarian and a smaller, limited governmental beast always seems a good idea. He thinks we never should have gone to Iraq and should get out immediately. I agree the U.S. cannot act as the world’s police (a line Bush used in running for the 2000 nomination). While not for legalized abortion and gay marriage, he believes these decisions should be left to the states – a much better stance than the typical conservative Republican. He signed the American Freedom Agenda Pledge, which I wholeheartedly support and he’s against eminent domain. If nothing else, I appreciated the conversation Ron Paul brought to the Republican Party. From the outset of the campaign, I intended on voting Democrat in order to balance the Supreme Court, but I try to give every candidate across all party lines their due consideration. Ron Paul wudn’t bad, as we say in Texas. The “wudn’t” part, that is.

In the efforts of full disclosure, my boyfriend and partner, Brendan is from Lake Jackson. Ron Paul was the obstetrician who delivered some his friends. So, we heard about him early on and, I must confess, I believe his geographical origins are the main reason for his support among some people we know. You always want to root for the home team. But not mindlessly, as I see many doing today.

Investigation, Research and Disappointment

As I took the mandatory squiz into Ron Paul’s stance on the issues, voting record, and basic history, it became clear this was a candidate I could never support.

Immediately, the support home schooling garners on his site struck me as a red flag. I’m not a huge proponent of home schooling, not necessarily in principle, but because the majority of home schooling is a result of parents who are closemindedly christian and do not want their children exposed to certain tenants in public education – evolution, abstinence, STDs, much of the literature. I’ve belonged to a number of churches in my past in which a number of the congregates home schooled and saw first hand how unexposed and brainwashed their children were. Brendan and I have experienced working and interacting with adults who were home schooled as children and to say they were socially inept is an understatement. We witnessed their failure to effectively interact with coworkers and socially and the subsequent shunning they experienced. While there are certain circumstances under which I would support home schooling – sometimes it’s a requirement for education because of geographical factors – but the widespread encouragement of home schooling (as you sometimes see here in Texas) is never a movement I could endorse because of the negative effects it has on the children.

Secondly, Ron Paul’s letter to gun owners on his website was a huge obstacle for me as a voter. Yes, here in Texas the Right to Keep and Bear Arms is significant. Ron Paul says the “high-and-mighty politicians” want to “Force law-abiding American citizens who want to protect themselves through more bureaucratic rigmarole and throw up more ‘gun free zone’ signs.” Well, the language of the letter is incendiary (who says high-and-mighty anymore?). I don’t believe there’s a gun owner around every corner threatening me and I certainly do not support ever law-abiding citizen’s right to own an uzi and any semi-automatic weapon. The tremendous amount of gun crimes is due largely to the availability of firearms which is due largely to the objection to gun control. (what i find really ironic is that most right to bear arms proponents are christian. so you ask them, what about the bible and an eye for an eye or women submitting completely to their husbands and sitting on their own side in church, shushed into silence. i always here, well that’s a reference to the situation of the times and doesn’t apply today) Bearing arms was a necessity when the Constitution was written. I’m not sure we should suspend the Right to Bear Arms, but let’s have a bit more historical context in our need to protect ourselves against a tyrannical government.

Then we have Ron Paul’s very unlibertarian stance on illegal immigration. I do not believe illegal immigration is a huge threat to the United States. Ron Paul’s very political existence, in his words, is to protect the foundations of this country – meaning the Constitution. Yet illegal immigration is a foundation of this country as well. The U.S. has experienced wave after wave of various illegal immigration groups and responded in fear and intolerance. Yet, each time, the economy and culture absorbed these immigrants well until the fear had passed and the group was accepted. What our economy cannot tolerate is the deportation of over 12 million workers who are here illegally. Farmers, restaurateurs, construction and other industries would be threatened at every level. It is fear-mongering that has the country lashing out at undocumented workers needlessly. Ron Paul contributes to perpetration of such lies – while his supporters accuse everyone else of lying about him.

Having studied intently on the subject of economics, Ron Paul’s approach is strictly in support of free-market Capitalism, as well as the elimination of the Federal Reserve, income tax, the IRS and many departments of the U.S. government. I do not support any pure economic theory, whether its Capitalism or Communism, as it fails to truly interpret and react to the human pysche. These theories assume far too much about human behavior to be effectively applied without hindrance. Economic activity must be a balance of many elements, including capitalism and socialism, to truly benefit the society to which they are applied.


Ron Paul has claimed repeatedly to believe that abortion is a legal question best left to the states. Yet, he is the sponsor of unsuccessful The Sanctity of Life Act which would define life at conception and protects life from conception to birth. A federal law defining life at conception would basically handicap any state law legalizing abortion because it would amount to murder. Paul’s repeated statements that he believes abortion should be a states’ right is a lie – evidenced by his intent to change federal law to prevent the surgical act and private right. Also, Ron Paul asserts a “partial birth abortion is never a necessary procedure.” He goes on to say, “The lack of respect for life that permits abortion significantly contributes to our violent culture…” If anyone of you has read Freakonomics, you would know that abortion actually contributes to a decrease in violent crime. Just FYI. He is even a member of the Association of American Physicians – a right-wing group of doctors that are opposed to abortion and believe in the free market so they may choose whatever price they want to provide medical services.

Now I will address the controversial newsletters published between 1988 and 1996 under Ron Paul’s name that have questionable messages and innuendos. The newsletters were at various times survivalist or pro-militia, anti-semitic, racist, homophobic, conspiracy theorist and isolationist. Ron Paul says he didn’t write the newsletters and doesn’t know who did (which I believe to be a patent lie) and believes that should be the end of the story. “A Libertarian can’t be racist.” And his supporters think so too. That the American voter should not be concerned with the fact that such ugly, hateful, putrid language was published under a presidential candidate’s name is sheer ridiculousness. Paul has also said he would make all the newsletters available and has not made one effort towards fulfilling his word – leaving it up to The New Republic to dig them up. First of all, his explanation is NOT enough. Second of all, the fact that he’s still a minor player in the race without much attention from the other candidates and media shows how little he is being taken seriously in this race. If he were a real factor, everyone would be going to town on this guy’s past and he would have been forced out long ago. The newsletters are so offensive, I am amazed people would sully their name by endorsing this fellow!

Voting Record

Then I decided to visit Club For Growth and view his voting record, where I discovered many votes on which I personally would have differed. Though I did approve of many of his votes, these are the ones that irked me a bit:

  • Voted for an amendment to prohibit the use of appropriated funds for the development of national reading and math tests
  • Votes against all free trade agreements because he thinks trade is inherently free and we don’t need all these silly stipulation. An isolationist view with clear miscalculating of our increasingly globalized world
  • Voted against a minimum wage increase
  • Voted against an amendment that imposed costly arsenic standards on small water systems
  • Voted against an amendment imposing new mileage standards on automobiles
  • Voted against a bill to criminalize so-called price gouging among oil companies
  • Voted for a bill to prohibit federal officials from nominating U.S. lands for protection without prior congressional approval
  • Paul opposes tort reform

Ron Paul Supporters – Hate Groups

Overwhelmingly, white supremacists, pro-militia groups, conspiracy theorists, 9/11 thruthers, and Neo-Nazis support Ron Paul. I would list all the white supremacist groups who support him here if it wouldn’t make me throw up. Should he have to pay for the sins of his followers? Should he have to return their contributions or publicly denounce them? Denounce them, yes.

It is a real and significant question to ask if a person who garners the favor of hate group after hate group would be the best representative for the people of the U.S. and even the free world. This alone, in my opinion, negates him as a viable candidate for president. He never discusses this branch of his support and this, coupled with his past newsletters, indicates to me he speaks Libertarian like the CATO Institute, yet lives and thinks the Libertarian of the Ted Kaczynski/Timothy McVeigh style. “R”evol“ution”? My ass.

And as we see more credible Libertarians abandon his campaign, it is more easily understood that Paul is not for limited government, but for no government. We all have our compounds and apply our own laws. Does he think the South should have had the right to secede? I question how badly he wants to protect the Constitution and his flavor of Libertarianism in general.

Misc. Points

Stealing the Republican Nomination
Ron Paul has many intriguing positions and declarations that allow me to understand his appeal and his cultish following – especially in today’s corporatocracy. Taking into consideration ALL that I have found – and there is a wealth on his positions because he writes so often (a practice to encourage among politicians – he is not a candidate I could support now or ever. Having seen the results of his campaign, it would seem a point moot at this time.

Think again.

In what seems good enough fodder for a conspiracy theory, many his followers want to amass enough delegates at the Republican Convention to give him the nomination anyway! Some think he is the only Republican candidate who could beat the Democratic Nominee. Talk about drinking the Kool-Aid.

I realize many Ron Paul supporters are normal, rational people. I don’t know many of them, but I’m sure they exist. It is with the crazies who want to amass delegates at the Convention that I have a quarrel.

In the Republican primaries so far, give or take a few minor errors, I have calculated 618,094 voters have cast their ballot for Ron Paul. 7,434,090 have voted for McCain and 2,874,007 have voted for Huckabee. Ron Paul has earned less than 4.5 percent of the overall nearly-14 million votes in the Republican primary. And yet his followers still want him to be the Republican nominee. As a Government major in college, you can understand how blasphemous I feel such strategy is!

The U.S. is a representative democracy. For the most part, we choose our elections through a majority or plurality votes. For Ron Paul supporters to think it’s right that they get together to usurp the nomination in direct contravention with the overall will of Republican voters, is shameful. Paul says he will remain in the race as long as his supporters want him to and will use his newfound influence and money to affect other political races. Such is his right.

But end this hope for the Republican nomination. It is wrong at its very base regardless of delegate equations. Only if Ron Paul were to gather a majority of the votes, even if he wasn’t allotted a majority of the delegates, would it be understandable to make a grab for the nomination. This cannot and will not happen.

Ron Paul has been good for discussion and a benefit to the process. But that’s it.


Dems Cracking Down on Pharmaceutical Companies – Commentary on Republican Aiding of Big Corporations

While this just might be political payback – after all, Edwards kept accusing Obama and Clinton of taking contributions from big drug companies – but, either way, Democrats in Congress have launched investigations into pharmaceutical corporation’s behaviors regarding Medicare, television advertising and the drug approval process. I for one, am thrilled. The pharmaceutical companies committed many transgressions under the approval of the Republican Congress.

Political philosophy has long held the belief that a vote for a Democrat means a vote for bigger, more powerful government. And this may be true (though not under Bush, who has expanded governmental powers above and beyond what any democrat could have ever gotten away with). The philosophy that a vote for a Republican will result in smaller government. Hmmm. That might be so, but instead of the powerful government you get with Democrats, you get powerful corporations with Republicans. And that is not good for the everyday American.

The pharmaceutical industry is simply one example of the havoc unregulated companies and industries can wreak on Joe Schmo. Just this past Sunday, 60 Minutes offered a report on the deaths caused by Bayer’s Trasylol each month due to the FDA’s unwilling to pull the drug that is 200 times more expensive than other drugs that are just as effective and don’t lead to renal failure and death.

Drug companies have armies of lobbyists who push the approval of drugs onto the public without effective clinical trials, who push for the approval of the use of adult cold medicines and antibiotics for children with no testing on children, who lobby doctors incessantly to prescribe chemicals for people for the slightest ailment and questionable diagnosis. Has anyone ever considered depression to be a developed-world condition and perhaps a visit to Sierra Leone or a labor camp in China or regular exercise might help to alleviate the symptoms rather than a myriad of tablets and pills? Just wondering…

Furthermore, and this is a comment on the free-market ideals of all the Ron Paulies out there, pharmaceutical companies control the patents on their drugs for years and can assign any cost they choose to life-saving medication. Customers simply cannot wander over to another drug company if they are unhappy with the services provided by the makers of Drug X.

Corporations collude, they merge, they control prices when unregulated. The free-market ideals introduced by Adam Smith and others that came during the Industrial Age in their purity do not apply in today’s setting. Pure theories, such as Communism, Capitalism and Socialism fail when taking into account the human psyche and cognitive dissonance. A balance must be struck. And the Republicans certainly are not willing to attempt such an endeavor. And so, we have unregulated industries.

The oil industry, with its record profits soaring – along with the prices of consumer goods; the airline industry, with its delays, overcrowding, and mass consumer disapproval; out-of-control lenders with their adjustable-rate-mortgages preying on subprime borrowers; dangerous toys from China making their way to kids’ mouths; CEOs with bonuses in the tens of millions while bottom-level employees can’t afford healthcare; monolithic corporate mergers; insurance companies that won’t pay their customers’ claims; the list goes on an on.

Personally, I’d rather a vote for bigger government. With a vote, I still have the power over who has the power. With a corporatocracy, I have no control over board-room deals that dictate my expenditures and consumer choices.

I do not prefer the idea of government regulation of our life, such as media censorship, but I choose react to the political reality of today, rather than the political ideal of what is supposed to be. The result of a Republican vote no longer means limited government, if it ever did. Republicans limit government when it comes to corporate behavior, not citizen behavior.

If it were up to Republicans, government would have greater control over what we do and don’t teach our kids in schools (creationism, abstinence) with very detrimental consequences. If it were up to Republicans, the government would control our decision to have an abortion. If it were up to Republicans, we would be much more concerned with NFL coaches destroying tapes of opposing teams’ play signals than the destroying of the CIA tapes and much more concerned with a boob shown during the Superbowl than genocide in Darfur. If it were up to Republicans, the concentration of executive powers acquired under Bush would remain, thwarting the effort of checks and balances intended by the founding fathers. If it were up to Republicans, government would launch a massive effort to criminalize undocumented workers in this country, going against the very foundations of our country’s greatness. Small government? Whatever!

We have a reality that must be recognized. Political party philosophies no longer apply to political party behavior. It is a shame we do not have a greater choice in the political parties to whom we may assign our votes. Given the two we got, however, I’m going with the Democrat. Because, in reality, with the Democrats, I stand a much better chance at determining the situations which affect my life rather than ceding them to Republican power whores and their corporate pimps.

Scarlet Letter of Atheism


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