New Civilization News: Political Fiction---or is it?    
 Political Fiction---or is it?10 comments
picture20 Feb 2006 @ 08:21, by D

Of the people, by the people, and for the people.

"Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth upon this continent a new nation: conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal," thus began the Gettysburg Address by Abraham Lincoln, who coined on this occasion the famous words, often quoted since then as one of the foundations of democracy, of a "government of the people, by the people, and for the people".

This was on November 18, 1863, less than 7 score and 3 years ago. This was before government had become portrayed by the GOP as the enemy of the people, and painted as creeping socialism.

What a shock Abraham Lincoln would have had! Imagine Back to the Future all over again: Abraham Lincoln steps into a time machine. The time machine slows to a halt. The gauge reads, "Wheeling, West Virginia, 02-09-1950." Abraham Lincoln steps out, and as he sets off to explore what has become of the American Dream, he finds himself standing in front of a crowd. Next to him, an angry man is wielding a piece of paper. The angry man is saying something about "a pompous diplomat in striped pants…" The angry man stutters as he is interrupted by the stir in the crowd that the commotion of the unexpected arrival has caused. He notices the time traveler. "You!" he says, "Yes, you! Who are you? What are you doing here?" Abraham Lincoln is still holding in his hands the last page of his Gettysburg’s speech. The angry man snatches it off. He reads the page, the last few lines of the very brief speech Abraham Lincoln had given, some four score and six years ago. "Government OF THE PEOPLE," the angry man gasps, "by the people, for the people?! What nonsense is this?" "Who are you, sir?" the angry man shouts, "Are you now, or have you ever been a member of the communist party?"

Seconds later, as an angry mob is starting to turn on the unfortunate visitor and things are beginning to look very bleak indeed for Abraham Lincoln, he is rescued in the nick of time by Doc Brown---the man who, as everyone familiar with the movie knows, invented time travel in 1955. Doc Brown shoves Abraham Lincoln back into the time traveling vehicle, he dives in behind him, the doors close, and the vehicle is catapulted to February 20, 2006, which by a strange coincidence happens to be Presidents’ Day. Well, at this point in time, your guess is as good as mine, but this is a time at which it is probably safe to say...---Or is it, now? 2006 also happens to be an era of high surveillance in the USA, so who knows what is or is not safe to say, really?---Anyway, safely so or not, let us just say that things don’t get any better for our unfortunate traveler. Abraham Lincoln has landed in an era where the notion of "government by the people for the people" has become un-American. The newspeak sound bite machine of the era has relabeled it "Big Government." Our unfortunate time-traveler is labeled an enemy of the people and a dangerous liberal. He soon becomes a suspected terrorist and only escapes Guantanamo Bay thanks to a daring rescue by Doc Brown and Marty McFly (played by Michael J. Fox in the original trilogy.)

Is this scenario too wild for you? Well, you were warned. The title, after all, comes with the disclaimer that the story is "political fiction." Which is more warning, I must say, than anyone has ever received from the well-oiled (pun intended) "propaganda machines" of our time, that brainwash people with their slogans and catch-phrases.

The fight against "Big Government" has become the central defining slogan of those who self-proclaim themselves the defenders of "freedom" against the intrusion of "big government tyranny." Interestingly enough, I am sure that the irony is not lost on everyone, those also just so happen to be the same people who have the most abused, for their own purpose, the power of "big government," in the name of "freedom," a political fiction in which government intrusion is referred to as "the Patriot Act" and "family values," instead of "big government."

The notion of "Big Government" is a red herring, and has clearly never been anything else than a diversion. America is big. Everything in America is big. The issue of whether we need less or more government is all but a smoke screen. What do we mean by less, what do we mean by more? The question is meaningless. Because, it does all depend, doesn’t it? It all depends on whether we mean more of a good thing or more of a bad thing. So, it all comes in the end to what makes a government good and what makes a government bad. That is, what makes government work to our benefit as opposed to what makes government work to our detriment? That is the question! And the question hasn’t changed from what it was less than 7 score and 3 years ago. It has not changed from what it was 11 score and some 10 years ago. It all comes to this: What do we want? And what do we have? Is our government, a government "of the people, by the people, and for the people," or has it become a government of private interests, by a ruling elite, for a privileged few. Should the people’s needs and interests be decided and managed by a privileged few or should it be decided and managed by a government of the people, by the people, and for the people?

In an article, dated 2004, Feeding the Beast, An Argument for Big Government, Eric Rawlin, a member of The Well, since 1987, reminisces about how much worse the air and water quality was in Los Angeles and San Francisco in the early sixties: "...many of us today have forgotten how bad it really was. The early Sixties were the days when urban rivers like the Cleveland River used to catch fire. Boston Harbor was a famous cesspool. People made jokes about painting the Hudson blue, and if you drove south from San Francisco it smelled like cheese any time of the day or night from the raw sewage that lapped up along the bay shore next to the highway."

Reflecting on the problems of the times and the changes he was able to observe in his lifetime the author offers this piece of unconventional wisdom in so far as government is concerned:
The answer [to such problems] does not lie in the good intentions of industrialists or consumers; nor the efforts of earnest do-gooders; nor even the inevitable tides of historical progress. The plain answer, uncomfortable as it may be to those who believe in "free enterprise" and "small government", is that the air and water are cleaner than they used to be because government chose to make it so, and for no other reason. Today cars run cleaner and factories have scrubbers on their smokestacks, but the industrialists who installed those engines and scrubbers fought tooth and nail then—as they do today—against every law that made them do so. If allowed today, corporations would improve their bottom line and return the Bay and the Hudson to its 1960 state without hesitating as much as a heartbeat.

But as it happened, people wanted cleaner air and water, and they prevailed on their government to make it so. And since the government was in the hands of people who at some level shared that concern, it was made so. The car manufacturers and factory operators were brought under control, and no other entity—not ecological think tanks, nor benevolent foundations, nor any group of private citizens, nor even the corporations themselves (who, after all, have their stockholders to answer to)—would have had the muscle to bring it off.

Is government corrupt? Often. Does it work against the interests of ordinary people? Sometimes. Is it inefficient? Always. But of all the forces at work in shaping the world I have to live in, it is the only one whose decisions I can hope to affect even slightly, whose processes are more or less open to my scrutiny, and who has my welfare at least a tiny bit at heart. None of that is true of Archer Daniels Midland or Time/Warner. For that reason, I want government big and I want it powerful.

Ford Motor Company used to hire spies to investigate the private lives of its employees to make sure they were behaving in ways the company approved of, and it was not shy about firing those who weren't. Mining companies in Appalachia used to simply gun down anyone who demanded a decent living wage. If those days are not to return again, we need a government that is powerful enough—and rich enough—to do battle with the other powerful forces in this land—to prevail on them to do what is right and not just what is profitable.

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