One of the more understandable responses I’ve received to my recent flurry of online soapboxing is that the redistribution of wealth from the elite – who currently hold all of it – to the workers who maintain the system even as it crumbles around them, is that the redistribution would be executed by the government, and the government can’t be trusted.
And I definitely understand it. All of us across the political spectrum have been rather horrified and shocked by what we’re seeing, as the Digital Age brings the inner workings of our government to light. We can see how very long these bills are, how votes are bought and paid for through pork barrel spending and back room meetings, how much it costs to treat our representatives like royalty, and what they do when they think no one’s looking.
We’ve seen how callous and skewed toward the wealthy our system really is. How the lobbyists speak and money rains down and suddenly the people we elected to represent us aren’t representing us at all. Suddenly they’re telling us that there’s no more money at all – even as they adjourn to head home to mansions and yachts, granting tax cuts literally to themselves while state and local government tell teachers to tighten their belts.
But the great thing about America – at least as I always understood it – is that our government is one for the people, of the people, by the people. We can change it – it’s our job to change it.
Because it’s our government. It’s us.
We can get rid of people, we can replace them. We can learn about bills and watch our representatives, see if they’re doing what we want them to or if we need to vote for someone else. If we do it vigilantly, and constantly, then they’ll have to listen to us.
And very simply, if we don’t, then they won’t.
When I say that in the short-term, we need to tax the living crap out of the rich, and you tell me that you don’t trust the government to redistribute the money – doesn’t that mean that you do trust the corporations to reinvest in America instead?
I mean, we both appear to agree that they’re the ones with the money necessary to get us out of this economic apocalypse. But if we’re not going to tax them, then what? We really hope they’ll look out for us on their own?
Or, more honestly, I think that we fear these corporate overlords – because they imply or directly threaten to invest elsewhere, if we tax them too much. We’re afraid – in a nutshell – that they’ll screw us even worse than we’re already screwed.
The giant, elite corporations have shown us time and again that they are not interested in our well-being. Their interests lie with their shareholders, and that’s it.
It’s even billed as a positive thing sometimes – business is business. The market decides, and it’s never wrong.
We’ve seen the stranglehold the corporations have on our elected officials. I don’t know about you, but so far I’m not too impressed by the way the government currently deals with corporate America. High-end brothels and man-eating plants come to mind. We’re too big to fail, so feed me, Seymour.
But that really doesn’t change the fact that the only force on Earth that can stand up to these corporations is a solid government which values the health and happiness and education of its citizens. No, I don’t think that’s a good description of our government, currently.
In fact, I don’t think it’s a good description of us, as a people. But it’s possible that we could open our eyes and remember who we really are, and if we do, it will be reflected in the government we build.
Our government is currently corrupt. I think we’d do well to admit that and instead of shaking our fists at the sky, take responsibility for it. These are the people we elected, right or wrong. These are the walking, talking, living, breathing decisions that we made.
The system needs overhauled, and it’s not like an engine. We can’t take it off-line and do that. We have to overhaul it while it’s still moving.
Conversely, we cannot change corporations. We can barely affect them. Just look at BP – they turned the Gulf of Mexico into their own personal toilet, and that’s about as close as we’ve come to really having an impact on a giant corporation like that. We temporarily dragged their stock prices down with our outrage, and of course, that’s mostly in the past.
Well, at least Noble Energy is the majority owner of the new well, and so you won’t find in that press release that the owner of 46.5% of that same well is good old BP. You’ll in fact find a lot of careful wording to avoid that, but there they are.
We really rose up and took the power back, didn’t we? Is this really okay with everybody?
Are we 100% certain we want to keep dropping wells like this at all? Well we’re doing it, so that’s our oil on our hands over there. It’s ours unless we’re screaming “Stop.”
Listen. I don’t think the government’s doing a bang up job, either. But we have far more control over the government than we do over Wall Street. Why on Earth would we trust corporations to “reinvest in America” and then refuse to believe that our government – of the people, for the people, by the people – could ever do the job for them?
In the modern world, we can watch the watchmen like hawks. Can, will, and should. Ten years ago, how would you have ever found out that BP owned such a large chunk of that well? We have a technological advantage that we didn’t have ten years ago.
Information flies faster than lies. We can do this, and they don’t want us to.
We can manage our own government. Corporate spin machines want you to believe that the government is a hostile alien entity because the government is all that can regulate their avarice and greed. They want us to hate and fear our government, because deep down they hate and fear the idea that we might ever gain control of it again.
We can see every vote our elected officials cast, every program they implement, every dollar they spend. We need to manage our government like it’s our own business, our own hardware store, our own pizza shop. Our own household.
Because it is. It really is all of those things.
Certainly I’m not saying, let’s blindly trust everything the government does. We have to tell the government what we want it to do, elect officials to enact our instructions, and fire them unceremoniously if they fail to meet our expectations. Relentlessly, belting out our own ideals like a blogger who won’t shut the hell up.
If you don’t trust us as a nation to do that, and you don’t trust our system of government to respond to that appropriately, then I really don’t understand why you bother voting in the first place.