At Crosscut, Bob Simmons eloquently points out a simple historical truth with a contemporary meaning: private enterprise failed to provide electrical service to much of rural America, and it took the REA under Franklin D. Roosevelt (and Truman) to get it done. And the right wingers of the day called FDR a communist and everything else under the sun.
Here in the Pacific Northwest, where we’re even more indebted to government action for the creation of cheap, reliable electrical power, you kind of wonder if the morons proclaiming that they “don’t need the government for anything except defense and law enforcement” are going to stop using their computers, microwaves and flat screens, or if many of them are even aware of the BPA. I suppose the magic market fairy just fires up the PS3 for them.
The ridiculous hysteria of August should cause sensible people to reflect on what the proper role of government is in a democracy that adheres to a well-regulated capitalist system. This is a legitimate area for debate.
The essential position of progressives, as I understand it, is that if you don’t have a referee in key sectors the cheaters will prosper. This has been proven countless times in our history, from the railroads and oil companies of yore to Enron and the housing bubble in our own time. From time to time government action has been required to preserve capitalism, not destroy it. Notice nobody wants to centrally plan production of toilet paper or iPods, we’re only talking about essential services, health care being rather essential at times to not being dead.
One can argue for or against regulation in a given sector, and how little or what type of regulation will work best, but the far right has simply decided to hurl whatever insults it can muster instead, and is being egged on by corporate America acting in lockstep with the GOP. These are the folks who supposedly hate class warfare, but ruthlessly wage it against the most vulnerable Americans in order to harvest vast profits from the sick, the working poor and anyone else that gets sucked into the monstrosity known as health insurance.
We’re still waiting on that GOP plan to fix health insurance, and my bet is they’ll never produce one. The GOP and the insurance industry are essentially one and the same thing, and just because there are also a lot of Democrats who display similar whorishness does not excuse any of it.
The health insurance companies have become the new Enrons, and they must be refereed. Obama must indeed welcome their hatred, just as FDR did, or nothing much will be accomplished.