21 September 2011

So let's agree that "government is the problem". . .

Look, I don't think there's a person in the country who thinks government is entirely free of corruption.  I was raised in a government town, I live in a government town, many of my friends work in the government.  And -- surprise, surprise -- they'll be the first to tell you how wasteful, inept and corrupt government can be.  The funny thing is, their stories sound a lot like the ones I hear in the private sector, but never you mind.  Let's assume that government is hopelessly broken.  Actually, I take that back.  It IS broken.  Having watched the debt ceiling debate debacle play out, pretty much EVERYONE -- including me -- hates government now.  I don't know anyone who even really liked government before, but now I don't know a single person who'd call the federal government anything better than dysfunctional.  Regardless of what may have been in the past, the Republicans are 100% correct now.  Government is the problem.  It's broken.  It's hopeless.  So. . . what?

YAY??  CONGRATULATIONS??

I mean, isn't this what the Republicans have been wanting and trying for years?  They not only tried to tell everyone who'd listen (and scream at those who wouldn't) that government is the problem, they finally succeeded.  So. . . when's the party?  What the fuck is the endgame?  The right-wing trolls have been mocking Obama's "hope & change" message (and, look, most of those who voted for him never bought that bullshiat; the GOP counteroffer was Sarah fucking Palin) by calling it "rainbows and unicorn farts", but what does "government is the problem" offer?  What the hell were we supposed to expect?  I mean, as a result of total collapse of Americans' faith in government I see a lot of paralysis and despair.  You know, like living in a truly broken country.  Wait, is that the endgame?  Why are we supposed to feel all warm and fuzzy about that?

For whatever the hell it's worth, I'm not gonna defend Obama.  He IS part of the problem.  Merely pointing out an irrational level of extremism as irrational does not make me a spokesperson for some hypothetical idealistic left that wants to dry-hump Capitol Hill.  I did just say I hate the federal government.  It's just that now that everyone in the country agrees on this. . . well, I can see how it's good for the GOP, but I don't see how it's good for anyone else.  If anything, we're all now seriously bummed.  Again. . . yay??  See, the main difference between me and the teabaggers is that I think you can't solve a problem until you adopt a problem-solving mindset.  I'm not an idealist; I don't expect the government to ever be corruption-free or even efficient, but there is something to be said for productive approaches to bad situations.  The offered proposal is to "shrink" government until it can be "drowned in a bathtub".  Logic being, if it's useless yet inevitable, then at least being smaller means it will do less damage.  Um, look, as an engineer let's just say I've been asked to solve a variety of problems in my time, and fixed quite a few bad ones, but never by using that idea.  It's a preposterously single-minded approach; it never knows when to stop, so the really the goal here is total destruction.  Just apply this logic to anything else and try to get somewhere.  Even the right-wingers who preach scorched-earth politics really don't apply this sort of mindset to anything else, for very obvious reasons.  Just for kicks, let's equate politicians with termites as an example.  Both are no good, right?  They only destroy all that you hold dear; everything they touch turns to garbage, right?  Well, what do these political nihilists try to do with a termite infestation?  Do they declare defeat and torch their homes?  Of course not.  They try to exterminate the termites with as little damage as possible.  So even when they're literally dealing with destructive parasites that can never be reformed, reasoned with or completely eliminated, they're willing to consider a constructive, problem-solving approach because if at all possible, they'd rather not lose their homes.  Well, guess what:  When it comes to politics, America is our fucking home.

Stop trying to burn the whole country just to get rid of some parasites.

Regulation: More or Less? Wrong Question!

The problem with the whole regulation argument is that there is zero context about regulation in the public discourse (media, blogosphere, etc.). It's always the amount, like we're measuring an ingredient in a baking recipe. No context. As in, none. Zero. I just haven't seen it. And it confounds me. Why the hell not??

Let me explain the very serious problem with this using an example. Let's say in some theoretical world that I have become the undisputed despotic master of I-90, superceding the authority of even the federal government. You drive on I-90, you drive by my rules. So I promptly require all vehicles to be purple-colored four-door sedans weighing exactly 2723 pounds with Nepal's flag (exact dimensions, mind you) painted on the trunk lid. If you don't comply, I throw you in jail, and I use tolls to fund an army to enforce my arbitrary rules. Which also change next week. Maybe. But if you work in Seattle, Chicago, Cleveland or Boston, what else are you going to use? You Seattlites gonna jam 520 even more, or brave the infamous I-405??

Oh, but no speed limits. Or seat belt law. You can also drink, text, do drugs, whatever -- while you drive. So of course, my fantasy I-90 suffers from a downright grisly rate of fatalities.

Now, does my theoretical I-90 have too much or too little regulation??

You can bet ideologues will debate to end times whether it's too much or too little, when the problem is so painfully clear that it's too much of the wrong regulations and too little of the necessary ones. But you never, EVER hear that from a pundit, politician or even a blogger, do you??