October 07, 2011
The Real Threat of Big Government

Jim Fallows led me to this chart from Mother Jones. Click to enlarge it into legibility.


The point, which Teddy Roosevelt was the last Republican president to grasp, is that the natural and inevitable result of “free market” competition is not efficiency, invention, a level playing field, personal freedom, or the greatest good for the greatest number. It is monopoly.

This is what the Republican small government types would fear if they had a clue. Not government regulation. Ask anyone for his or her worst experiences with unresponsive, uncaring, indifferent, and rapacious bureaucracies. The answer will seldom be the Post Office or the Social Security Administration or even the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Nine times out of ten it will be a bank, an insurance company, a giant utililty, a cable provider. You can’t vote the rascals out. There is no congressman to complain to. You haven’t got a hope of successfully suing them. Corporate decisions are unappealable, mercilessly and mindlessly enforced by courts and bill collectors.

You can’t even get past the phone tree to speak to anybody in actual authority. Such people must exist, but they are faceless and unaccountable. You are in Kafka country. Just ask any of the poor bastards defrauded and evicted in the great mortgage swindle that blew up the economy for everyone but the bankers responsible.

This is the “big government” the useful idiots of the Tea Party ought to fear. Instead they are speeding its arrival. Perhaps it has already arrived. Look at the chart.

The only thing capable of standing in its way is the regulatory authority of the “big government” that the boobies have been taught to fear. Indeed it may already be too late. The Citizens United decision and the corporate-owned Congress and Obama’s economic team may have seen to that.

In which case God bless us all, and Tiny Tim Geithner.


Posted by Jerome Doolittle at October 07, 2011 09:04 PM
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You remind me of PECO. When I sold my house in Philly, I was going about the task of having all the utilities in my name stopped. Philadelphia Electric told me I'd have to prove who I was.

OK. I was asked for my Social Security number. I paused. I couldn't remember ever having given PECO that level of ID. I'd bought the house back when that was pretty much secret information, before my 6-digit university ID was switched to it, even, and I hadn't had any meaningful interactions with PECO since then, unless you count their nasty form letter that time I sent them a check made out to the gas company.

But who can you trust if not the electric company, right? I must have given PECO that number at some point, or maybe Nixon did. So I recited it. "Wrong!" the PECO person said.

I grabbed my wallet, pulled out the official card, and read it, slowly and clearly. "You can't prank Philadelphia Electric like that! You're lucky we don't call the cops on you," she chortled, almost gleefully, before she slammed down the phone.

Calling back 6 or 8 times didn't improve matters, so I called the real estate agent and told him the deal was off because I couldn't shut down electrical service. To save his commission, he was only too happy to take charge of the problem.

Or maybe only too happy to say he would. Maybe he had no more luck than I did, and one of these days I'll get a delinquent electric bill for a million dollars or so. Only it won't be from PECO. PECO merged, too, just like the banks. The last I heard, it was going by something a corporate branding consultant had dreamed up, something with an X like Exxon, Xratd maybe.

Posted by: JoyfulA on October 10, 2011 7:18 PM
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