Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Huffington Post article by Gary Hart

In a recent Huffington Post article by Gary Hart, a few odd sentences stick out.  Of course, the article was closed for comments - gotta love that.

Here are a few tidbits I found...just wrong:

If we are all "in this together," then we share more than just an interest in collective security. And if we have collective interests, the instrument by which we pursue and promote those interests is the national government, not Wall Street or the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
As we learned in 1929 and 2008, markets can fail, usually through greed and lack of regulation.
The Goldwater-Reagan-Gingrich-Tea Party revolutions all called into question whether we are a society and therefore whether we act through our national government to pursue our common interests. ... Many Americans continue to believe we can have the public services a very large majority wants without paying very much for them. .
It would be an interesting, though destructive, experiment to see how many Americans would like the nation the Tea Party seeks to construct.

Let's take these few points one by one...

  • collective interests should be pursued via the national gov't:  I think our forefathers would be horrified at the degree to which "we" pursue "our interests" via the gov't.  Check out lobbying, Hart, and figure out how it really works.  The interests of the hard working, taxpaying American are rarely intertwined with those of high powered lobbyists.
  • 1929 and 2008 = greed and lack of regulation:  not true at all. The regulations have been there all along...it's the regulations that continue to fail us.  We have a weak national culture *and so* arbitrage occurs in the form of people finding schemes - either with the regulators or behind their backs - to make money however they can and no matter who it affects.  Not the other way around. 
  • Many Americans apparently believe we can continue with huge budget with no one to pay for it.  Really?  Who are these Americans?  Most hard working people I know figure that the best way to fix the budget shortfall is to simply take the additional responsibilities that the government has bestowed upon itself away from the federal government.  And into the hands of, say, the free market (uh-oh, bad words!), or at least state governments so we can have 50 mini-cultures figuring out what's best and emulating each other based on what works for them.  How Hart jumps to this conclusion of what many Americans believe is baffling.  Most people who are in the 48% who actually pay for 100% of these services would disagree with this statement.
  • The Tea Party world is apparently a fantasy land we've never encountered in America.  Wrong again, Hart.  Just go back a couple hundred years and you'll get the idea.  Oh, but those were Neanderthal times...people didn't even have indoor plumbing, so they couldn't have been very bright, or they would have paid out of pocket to the government to....do what, exactly?  Spend most of its revenue on programs that are a dead end and/or will bankrupt our country?  The initial Tea Party movement was about those same hard working, taxpaying folks who want to stop the bleeding of their paycheck into a government that has decided to govern itself instead of the people.
Also loved this bit:

Thomas Jefferson wanted our government to do only those necessary things that individuals could not do for themselves. That is quite a large territory. It includes transportation systems, public safety and judicial systems, public education, and national security, among many other undertakings.
Hart takes Jefferson's philosophy and then assumes it's a "large territory, [such as] transportation systems, public safety, and judicial, education, national security".  Only two of those can be found in our Constitution.  The others?

  • Transportation systems: Certainly not a federal government role.  Maybe a city role, in larger cities, but public transit is not something our federal government should be involved in. And by the way, couldn't a for-profit business outperform most major city public transit systems?
  • Public safety:  Again, this is a local government role, not a federal one.  And even then, we see what goons we have as police officers now.  No thanks - I'd rather hire a private force that answers to the government on a regular basis; they'd be far more efficient.
  • Education: The Department of Education is a black hole of spending, and has it improved the quality of education in this country?  No, it keeps getting worse - get the government out of that game, let the State governments sort out what's best for them, and education becomes more competitive nationally.  That can only boost the scores of all those "standardized" tests that probably wouldn't exist in such a world.
In summary - Hart is a goon, and loves making grand, sweeping statements that people are meant to take at face value with no analysis or thought.  Sounds like how our mass media and government would love for everyone to behave.

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