American Virtues

No Respect

What’s missing from virtually any politician’s speeches is a reverence for our nation’s founding principles. You just don’t hear someone invoking the Constitution or the Bill of Rights or anything that Americans or even foreigners would associate with the Tocqueville-like respect Americans have been accustomed to receiving.

What’s more important these days is gut feeling. Convictions. One’s faith. Not being a good public servant, passing bills cognizant of the Constitution’s ideas. Not encouraging the principles of free speech or freedom of the press or separation of church and state.

Where have all the statesmen gone? It almost seems rare these days to find hard-working public servants who cut their teeth forging social and communal policy running for office now. Bill Richardson is probably the best example I can think of who HAS.

Energy

I was listening to “Think” on NPR on the drive home and two journalists from the Dallas Morning News were talking about Texas Utilities’ buyout and what it would mean for energy development in Texas.

It got me to thinking about how locked in we are to local energy monopolies. What are our choices? TXU. Okay, well, how will they produce their electricity? Let’s see, we have a choice of coal and nuclear. Some choice.

It strikes me that Congressmen and politicians should see it in their best interest, if they are true statesmen, to support renewable energies.

Most people want renewable energies so they won’t have to pay so much in electricity or pollute the environment. But one overlooked benefit is that it breaks the monopoly on energy. Not everyone can afford solar panels on their houses, and perhaps that won’t even produce enough electricity. But any firm with enough capital can invest in solar panels and then supply electricity at competitive rates to anyone in their area. Instead of one firm providing energy (currently other firms just buy energy wholesale and re-sell it), you have actual competition. This is in the best interest of anyone who’s not in the pocket of energy companies.

A senator or representative who does not back renewable energy has no case for being pro-competition, pro-free market. He certainly cannot make the case that he cares about his non-corporate constituents. This is one point that should be driven home to politicians in their home areas.

Corruption

The reality is that it’s open season for lobbyist and privatization money right now. Consumers and voters are only recently becoming aware of this in any sort of politically meaningful sense. Politicians are being recruited by companies to pass bills favorable to the companies, then leaving politics and joining those companies to lobby other politicians. Logrolling probably is not being used so much these days for the public good but to pay off both parties even more.

When people say that Democrats and Republicans are all the same, they’re right. Both parties are stealing money from the public coffers and running off to the corporate side. It’s basically one big raid on our country’s future. Take Rumsfeld, whose stated goal was to privatize the military, and also take Cheney, profiteer by way of Halliburton and other companies. Both are nearing the end of their long careers in Washington DC. They spent decades chomping at the bit for the big payoff and now they’ve got it.

Founding principles are non-existent even in public discourse. People who DO discuss their rights are labeled as protesters. Governments and public institutions are fading away without funding. The Fed, drenching the economy with dollars to keep up consumption and fight interest rates, is providing the environment for a culture of selfishness.

The prevailing attitude is that “I’m going to get mine.” Fuck everyone else, I’m going to grab as much money as I can before it dries up. People are getting paid lots of money to do nothing. Meanwhile, the income inequality gap keeps expanding.

America is no longer the shining example of the world — it is just a profiteer’s dream. Even China seems more responsible in its capitalist practices than the US at times.

Government

This is why there needs to be government. Without a strong governmental influence, powerful organizations run wild. There are no incentives for companies or groups to check their power unless restrained judiciously. The government is supposed to protect the common good and at some philosophical level should protect the individual from the corporate and foreign influences who lobby the other side.

Perhaps this didn’t come out the way I wanted it to, and I’m sure I could dig some stuff up out of the Federalist Papers if I knew them better, but hopefully my meaning will come across in the end.

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