The Bush administration and its staff of flying monkeys are either unwilling or incapable of providing American citizens with basic services. Their main failures regard regulation, one of the foundational purposes of having a government in the first place. When the government goons DO decide to perform some kind of regulation, it's usually done to strictly benefit wealthy corporations. Free trade advocates claim this is regulation run amok, but the bailout is merely a continuation of the selling out of America to the corporation. The act simply masquerades as government regulation, but the truth is that cronyism has infested Washington and Wall Street, alike, resulting in the government's desire to protect the wealth instead of the people.
Privatize profit, socialize loss. Billions of taxpayer money saved the financial investment bank Bear Stearns from going bankrupt. Bear Stearns had a rough year, since that housing bubble (the one filled with all those predatory mortgages Bear Stearns and company signed over to poor, brown people) finally popped. Lucky for Bear Stearns, America doesn't punish corporations that exploit the community. Instead, $3.2 billion of federal money goes to bailing them out. But it's only fair, since Bear Stearns' profits fell from $539 million to $486 million. The horror! Surely, the Johnsons will understand the need to foreclose on their house in the wake of those kinds of second-quarter losses!
If government exists to protect the PEOPLE, and not the corporations, then it was the government's duty to allow a corrupt, exploitive company like Bear Stearns to fold under the weight of its own crooked policies. Instead, the government did regulate, but instead of regulating policies to prevent the exploitation of poor families, they regulated a reaction to Bear Stearns' bankruptcy. They funneled taxpayer money into a corrupt corporation, and let the brunt of the burden drop atop American citizens like an Acme anvil.
Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast of the United States on the 29th of August, 2005. Most remember the event because the government abandoned poor, black residents of New Orleans, leaving them to die of malnutrition on their rooftops and in the luxurious feces-crammed Louisiana Superdome. FEMA's monumental ineptitude is reflective of governmental failure. A strong, well-run government emergency assistance program exists so that citizens living in flood-prone areas can -- say -- insure their homes in case a hurricane should mosey into their town and destroy their house.
In 1968, Congress created the National Flood Insurance Program. However, under the Reagan administration, what was once mandatory governmental programming became "the preferred approach." The Clinton administration completed the task of deregulation when they totally abandoned land-use regulation and instead chose to "encourage positive attitudes toward flood-plain management," which is like advising a cancer patient to "wish away" their tumor. FEMA was abandoned by its government, and slowly the program antiqued, left alone with its outdated maps and poorly managed staff. So it's no wonder when, in 2005, no one could organize a force to immediately send aid to New Orleans. After all, it only made sense that FEMA was unprepared to do so, since the government had completely deregulated the emergency aid system.
A basic government job is to provide citizens with safe food and water. But when you're running around seeing if corporate tycoons need their pillows fluffed, it's difficult to see if something horrible is in the meat or water, for example, anti-epileptic, sex hormones, mood stabilizers, or antibiotics. Corporations hate regulation because it slows down the whole production process. Nevermind that it's a foundational way to keep consumers safe, they have a bottom line, damnit! When factory farms speed up production, bosses cut corners to shave off expenses, and things like Mad Cow disease appear in meat-eating consumers.
It's the inevitable last step in a process where the only valued commodity is profit. Corporations aren't rewarded for their safety records. Their only incentive is the buck, which would be fine (if not morally questionable,) but only if a strong government existed to protect citizens. Unfortunately, when standing up to corporations, the U.S. government has displayed the courage of a gimp Field Mouse.
On August 1, 2007, the I-35W Minnesota Bridge collapsed. Eight-lanes of steel and cement plunged into the Mississippi River. Thirteen people died and about one hundred were injured. Way back in 1990, the bridge had been deemed structurally deficient. Like the levees in New Orleans, the state's infrastructure was woefully in need of repair, but Minnesota officials either lacked the funds or determination to do something about the problem. However, Minnesota and New Orleans are hardly alone in their need for federal repair money.
When Minnesota's bridge collapsed, New York City began to examine its own deteriorating infrastructure. When a downtown steam pipe blew up, it sparked a national conversation that culminated in transportation officials confessing that they knew of at least 600,000 nationwide bridges that were in need of replacement. Don't hold your breath whilst waiting for new bridges, though. America has lots of other problems.
Medicare and Social Security
While no one can confidentially predict the future, the current outlook for Medicare and Social Security is bleak. Since Neo-Conservatives think the private sector can fix everything, they desperately tried to convince the American people they were better off privatizing their Social Security than letting the government care for their retirement funds. Americans didn't buy the song and dance, but that doesn't mean their money is safe. The Bush administration issued a report last April that indicated Medicare would be dry by 2019 and Social Security would go the way of the dinosaur by 2041. The Bush team has successfully bankrupted the most prosperous country in the history of the planet.
America: spending more for less! While the U.S. spends more on health care than any other nation in the world, it's the only wealthy, industrialized nation that does not have universal health care. New data shows that the life expectancy between rich and poor is widening. In America, you're much more likely to live a long life if you're a Bear Stearns CEO than if you're a New Orleans refugee. Alas, Americans can hardly expect their government representatives to fight for universal health coverage when they're safely in the pockets of insurance and pharmaceutical lobbyists.
Bye-bye, job! When the bottom line is the buck, corporations aren't likely to be very loyal toward their workers. Workers, those greedy, little bastards, who always try to unionize and obtain shorter work weeks. Why would corporations pay minimum wage when they can legally ship jobs overseas where hungry brown people will perform the same task for pennies on the dollar? The government offers no incentives for employing American workers. It's positively stupid for corporations to keep their factories in America: land of the free and home of worker rights and group lawsuits. In America, job security is a privilege, not a right.
Hey, Hippy! Money doesn't grow on trees!
Where could America get all this money for housing, bridges, levees, safe food, and retirement? Well, the government could have used the $3 trillion spent on the Iraq war. Iraq in itself is a perfect microcosm of this deregulation game. Even the American military, a stalwart institutional example of a unified nation, has been deregulated and marginalized by the government. Now, private mercenaries like Blackwater perform the tasks of the military. Except (and this is the cute part,) Blackwater mercenaries aren't subject to military laws.
Speaking of privatization, while this war wracks up trillions of debt for American citizens, corporations like Kellogg Brown & Root (a subsidiary of Dick Cheney's Haliburton Co), Bechtel Group, Inc. Parsons Corp., Louis Berger Group and Fluor Corp. are making a killing (the good, money kind, not the boom-boom kind)! How much are they earning, you ask? No one really knows! Bookkeeping in Iraq is sketchy, at best. In privatized Iraq, it's a smorgasbord of disaster, an orgy of death, a shit storm of corruption!
All of this begs the question: why bother with government at all? If the private sector can do everything from Fed-ex mail to invade countries with Blackwater, what the heck do Americans pay taxes for? If the government can't keep food safe or prevent levees from splitting apart, or bridges from crumbling, why do Americans fund the broken institution at all? While schools remain in dire conditions, taxpayers continue to fund the construction of prisons, so that now 1 in 100 American citizens are incarcerated. It seems their tax money goes toward jailing citizens, corruption overseas, and bailing out billion-dollar corporations.
Far from being a bunch of idiots, taxpayers are the victims of an elite group of corrupt carpetbaggers, politicians and executives, who prey on their good nature and willingness to invest in their community. However, once they possess the knowledge of their misspent dollars, citizens must organize and hold their government accountable lest they become a community of suckers.