Here's a reality check for those who believe in the myth that a smaller government means a better government and who still haven't accepted the fact that campaign contributions are mere bribery of elected officials.
On Sept. 11, every single argument for a smaller government or against public financing of all elections were put on display in New York City, Washington, D.C., and in a field in Pennsylvania. The entire episode happened simply and only because the security at airports had been privatized and the airlines had been able to bribe enough people in Congress to delay or negate nearly every safety provision that had been recommended over the preceding decade. The unbelievable ease with which the terrorists commandeered the flights is a direct result of the airline's ability to buy government and the conservative push for destroying the government in the name of privatization.
When a regulation was proposed that would require 40 hours of training for those people who run the metal detectors at airports, there was a mighty and obstreperous screaming heard from airport and airline security executives. The reason they were so upset was due to no reason other than the dent that the cost of training might put into their profits. While the regulation has finally been published in the Federal Register, the last step before it becomes effective, the rule is still being fought and delayed with checkbooks.
In fact, these same people who are the final line of defense before carry-on baggage and passengers board the planes that you are flying on are paid the minimum wage and few or no benefits. Add to that the fact that these positions have a turnover rate of 126% every year and you can see that the necessary level of training and experience simply does not exist.
Were these employees' members of the federal workforce, they would be highly trained, well paid and experienced workers. If these workers enjoyed the job security that a government position offers, then the turnover rate would drop dramatically resulting not only in screeners with great experience remaining on the job but also a wealth of information to be passed on to the next generation of screeners.
If these were federal employees rather than disposable meat for private firms, the government would have the power and the clout to insure that all of them passed stringent background and fingerprint checks prior to employment. Instead, the employees of the private security firms are now allowed to be employed after having been subjected to no security check at all or, possibly worse, after having had their background checks falsified by the very security firms that supposedly are protecting you and yours.
This insane and basically stupid move towards less and less federal oversight and regulatory powers over industries is quickly creating a climate in which the few get wealthy while the majority get paid nothing and the health and safety of all Americans are put in danger.
This nation needs a strong government, one with the power to regulate and control the many industries and service providers that the American public must depend on every day of their lives.
We must have a strong and independent crew of inspectors working for the FAA in order to drastically improve the security of airlines and airports as well to create a regular and thorough system of mechanical and maintenance inspections on all commercial carriers.
We must have a strong and completely independent structure at the FDA (Food & Drug Administration) that will have the budget and dedicated researchers to thoroughly test and certify all drugs that are allowed into the marketplace and into the bodies of the American people.
We must reinforce the Office of Safety and Health (OSHA) and employ the number of inspectors that are needed to regularly inspect the workplaces of the America laborer. We must institute a system of fines and penalties that will deter future violations of the health and safety codes rather than the current system of virtual wrist slaps that are, at the end of the year, completely tax deductible for the company.
We must institute a program of training for all of America's truckers and a system to protect these drivers from the extended and dangerous hours and conditions they are currently exposed to every day. We must strengthen and enlarge the ranks of the government inspectors so that each truck and each driver is checked at least once a year. We must renegotiate all trade treaties to include provisions for the same treatment for all foreign truck drivers before they are allowed on the highways of America.
We must stop treating our nation's teachers as the enemy and as the cause of all educational shortcomings. The government must provide the funds necessary to improve the physical and structural integrity of all of the nation's school buildings. College students that major in the teaching fields should receive grants and long term tax breaks during their initial teaching careers. The government must provide a strong budget for the necessary materials and transportation and before and after school activities. Provisions for tutoring those students who are falling behind must be offered. Only after all schools are equally funded and all teachers equally trained and offered equal wages can we begin testing the students with any hope of receiving usable data.
We must provide all students who qualify for entry into an institute of higher learning or who choose to learn a vocational skill a free education. The government must provide the necessary books and equipment to these students. By doing so, we can rely on a future in which every American has been educated and trained to the highest levels of their abilities. This will result in a nation that employs the best and the brightest at all levels of the various fields, be it in the medical profession, law enforcement, teaching or automotive trades (politics will, as always, attract just the least useful members of society).
America must help the family farms to thrive. This can be accomplished through programs in which the government purchases the crops that are in excess of American demand and shares that bounty freely with the world's less fortunate. These programs will have the added benefits of changing the nation's global reputation of a greedy, wasteful, and uncaring member of the planet's many countries and to assist these needy people to begin the climb back to self sufficiency by eradicating the hunger of the children.
The government must regain a strong regulatory position over the major media and financial institutes. There must be strong protections for the American consumers in both fields. Americans must be certain that their savings and their retirement accounts remain safe and shielded from the greedy and lawless forces that currently control your money. America must also know that the information that each and every American must have in order to form intelligent, informed opinions is coming to them from all possible viewpoints and sources. Only then may the agendas of each be debated and explained clearly and without the censorship that is implicit in our current media ownership.
The American people must be reminded that the taxes they pay provides for the national infrastructure that makes the entire capitalist system function. The highway and bridges and tunnels and all of the other parts of our transportation system have been allowed to decay beyond any reason. Our lack of a true high-speed rail system is a national embarrassment. The condition of the streets and freeways in our major metropolitan areas are so worn out and ill-repaired that the costs to car and truck owners for repairs caused by this degradation far exceeds the costs of repairing the roads, themselves. Public transportation, where it's available, is seldom structured in a way to provide seamless transportation but must, instead, requires the continued use of private transportation between points. This negates the majority of the benefits that the meager mass transportation system now offers.
There must be reversal in the public's mind for the roles of government and corporate behavior
First, we must return Corporate America to its roots as the servant of the people and eliminate the insane Supreme Court's ruling that a corporation is equal to a human being in its rights and protections. States in which corporations are licensed must rescind the licenses of corporations who behave in any way that is against the common good of the citizens of this nation. It is the right of every state to do so and it is the duty of every state to do so when the lives, health, safety, or futures of its citizens are endangered by any state licensed corporation.
Second, we must remind the citizens of this nation that their government is charged with the duty of protecting them from the abuses of the powerful. We must remind them that the whining that they constantly hear from Corporate America is only to be expected from those who have been caught at behaving in an unethical or criminal way. We must educate the public in the reality that too much regulation, no matter how loud the keening from the wealthy and the suits in the suites, is vastly preferable to the current system of little or no regulation, at all. We must recreate an atmosphere in which profits are always secondary to the lives and health of the planet's people.
America must cease allowing private corporations to build and manage the nation's penal facilities. The job of prison guard is stressful enough for a professional but it doubles that stress when one must do this work for minimum wages, low or no benefits, little if any training, and without the right to organize as a union for their own protection. While prison must be seen as a punishment for crimes against society, it should not be a system in which the untrained are in charge of the uncontrollable.
In addition, America must cease its attempts to legislate the morality of its citizens through useless and harmful laws against personal choice issues such as the types of drugs ingested or the personal decision to remove cells from one's body. Only those who have shown themselves to be a danger to the population should ever become a part of the nation's legal system.
Also, the definition of "danger to the population" must be redefined. It must include those executives in Corporate America who knowingly allow dangerous products to be sold on the markets or who pollute the planet in such a way that the health and lives of other human beings are put at risk. In this regard, the higher the level of risk engendered upon the population, the longer and harsher the punishment must be.
These are just a few of the hundreds of areas that daily affect the lives of the American people and all the other passengers of this planet. The need for a strong, centralized, and citizen oriented government is the most important aspect of American life. To attempt to give each of the fifty states the power to regulate or not to regulate Corporate America is, at its roots, unconstitutional. It creates a nation in which some Americans live in peril of the sins of Corporate America while others are able to force their state governments to offer the level of protection needed in our lives and for the future of our children. It will create a nation in which the jobs that are vital to an individual's existence will gravitate to those states that offer the least regulation, meaning that their employees would be forced to live in a polluted, dangerous place. This is not, in any manner, equal protection under the law as required by our Constitution. There are areas in which the concept of "State's Rights" supercedes federal powers but not in any area that affects the lives or health of the American people.
As we've discussed over and again in these articles, the Rabid Right's definition of "State's Rights" only means that their owners in Corporate America do not wish to be regulated in any manner that protects their customers if that protection negatively affects their profits. The Rabid Right knows that the droning repetition of any phrase will eventually warp a barren mind in such a way that mindless drivel can appear to be intelligent discourse. That's why, if you ask nearly any American what the term "smaller government" means, you'll only get the definition that they, themselves, think it means. When you ask about specific areas such as their health or safety and who offers the best protections, either government or business, they will hesitate before answering. I promise that this hesitation is caused by the realization that they really have no idea what the term truly means other than what the Rabid Right have told them to believe it means. That hesitation, while seldom resulting in any increase in wisdom, is satisfying for those of us who just enjoy watching rusted and neglected gears trying to turn. After a lifetime of listening to the senselessness of people like Ronald Reagan, both the spook and the moron Bush, Clinton, Gingrich, or that mountain of lard (meant both physically and mentally) Rush Limbaugh, the untutored mind is seldom functioning at any useful level.
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