Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Rationalizations, strained arguments and false history, please!

The Ayn Randroids have argued that private enterprise, not the government, created the internet. Very imaginative. Let us take the implied challenge; let us show that we can be just as creative. I ask readers to come up with similar arguments which would allow freedom-lovers everywhere to give full credit to private entrepreneurship for the following accomplishments:

1. The interstate highway system

2. The moon landing

3. The defeat of Hitler's Germany and Tojo's Japan

4. The killing of Osama Bin Laden

5. Overtime pay

6. Paid vacations

7. Traffic signals

8. Libraries

9. Air traffic control

10. Social Security

Feel free to rewrite history as needed. Young people won't know enough about the past to call you on any lies -- especially if they've gone to parochial school or an underfunded public school.

Bonus: How many veterans out there (especially the ones who are unemployed or underemployed) would like to scrap the VA in favor of a for-profit plan? 
WTH, private enterprise created the internet? Are they serious. Sorry, that is one rationalization that is not rational. Do they not know history? I was working on the internet in 1980 (pre Microsoft OSS - on Sparx workstation) I was working on rolling out Frame networks. I've been out of it for a very long time, but I recall that we were ecstatic that Arpanet (government funded and developed) had at last allowed us (private enterprise employees) universal access, as long as our Corporate entities paid the appropriate fees. Arpanet was develped by govenment entities (particularly the DOD) - not private enterprise.
Being of a rational mind, I'm not sure I can come up with rationalizations for all that you've listed, which are of course governmental initiatives, which means that taxpayers paid for them, not private enterprise.
However I'll try:
The interstate highway system (forgive me for my ass historical lunacy) Enron must have built it. It needed the necessary components to build the electrical system, ergo, transportation was important.

The moon landing - well we all know it was a fake (gag, I can't believe I just typed that) but if it really happened, then it was the triumph of - I can't, I just can't pretend.

Defeat of Germany and Japan - obviously the plutocrats that originally supported his rise were instrumental in defeating him - right. Bush, Hearst, Lindburgh, Rockefeller, Mellon, GE and too many other corporations. But they changed their minds and totally defeated him once they realized their mislaid hope.

Sorry, I cannot continue even in irony phase. All the rest are as a result of unions. I tried.
The Libertarians, the hard Right and the 1%ers all want to steal the nations assets. Unfortunately it is owned by the nation so they have to deny that the nation itself has any legitimacy, that it exists only at the behest of financial markets and that people are isolated economic units. They seek to deny the fundamental principle of the state, that "what we hold in common is greater than what divides us."

There's a three stage process: (1) make some aspect of society dysfunctional (eg public schools, Congress, regulatory bodies); (2) against all the evidence repeat the lie that government activity has never worked (proof, you see, that we have no common interests); (3) steal the underlying national assets either directly (by privatization) or indirectly (by inflated taxpayer subsidies to private enterprise).

The key tactic, to be returned to again and again, is to destroy the cultural and historical memory of the effectiveness of the nation state in meeting the needs of the people. Agencies that reflect the idea of a successfully functioning state acting for all its citizens must be denounced and destroyed, then privatized -- public education, libraries, postal services, health care, the courts, police and emergency services. Congress must be made unworkable, regulatory bodies corrupted. The principle of failure of government must be established. It's about selling the idea that the nation state is dysfunctional in order to steal everything not nailed down.
Former Wall Street analyst, Michael Hudson, research professor of economics at the University of Missouri, echoes a similar idea:

'From the vantage point of the Irish and Greek populations (perhaps soon to be joined by those of Portugal and Spain), national parliamentary governments are to be mobilized to impose the terms of national surrender to financial planners. One almost can say that the ideal is to reduce parliaments to local puppet regimes serving the cosmopolitan financial class by using debt leverage to carve up what is left of the public domain that used to be called “the commons.” As such, we now are entering a post-medieval world of enclosures – an Enclosure Movement driven by financial law that overrides public and common law, against the common good.'
You forgot Parks- if private industry got their hands on that one, we wouldn't all be able to enjoy it anymore.

Kind of on, kind of off topic, but relevant in a squint-eyed way:

"What have the Romans ever done for us?"

The internet is much older than the 80's. The FBI was transmitting data and uploading data via direct on-line access to State and local law enforcement agency computers as early as 1973 and likely earlier. That's as far back as I personally can attest to.
Some thoughts on the Interstate Highway System - private enterprise didn't create it, but they certainly want to exploit it. In the original plan, no interstate highway was to be tolled. It is only by virtue of being built prior to Eisenhower's signing of the Interstate Highway Act that roads such as The Massachusetts Turnpike, The New York State Thruway, The Pennsylvania Turnpike and The Ohio Turnpike were "grandfathered" into the system. They were allowed to remain toll roads under the condition that tolls collected go back into maintenance of the roadway.

In the past decade, states looking for revenue have either leased their turnpikes to private corporations (in the case of the Indiana Toll Road and Chicago Skyway) or proposed such an arrangement (in the case of the Pennsylvania Turnpike). The old rule that tolls collected go back into the road is apparently now ignored, as I doubt any private enterprise wants to maintain a public right of way out of the kindness of their hearts. The companies leasing the roads are required to maintain them, and in some cases, do upgrades, but I wonder what the markup is at the toll booth so that a company can make good on the investment as opposed to the price of a government-maintained roadway.

If the Randroids win, I fully expect the entire Interstate Highway System to be privatised and tolled (likely at egregious rates) - sold off bit by bit. It would be diametrically opposed to what Eisenhower intended for the national highway system of the United States.
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