Frittering Away My Sunday Morning...

Category:  BloggERy
Sunday, November 13th, 2011 at 10:42 AM
Frittering Away My Sunday Morning... by Jay Stevens
Sports Grind Entertainment

So, here we are. Sunday. Instead of watching football today, I thought I'd mull over Plato's five forms of government and how that applies to the state of rule in the United States.

Well, I'm down on football right now. Thanks, Penn State.

Anyhoo, Notre Dame philosophy professor Gary Gutting this week had an intriguing piece in the online section of the New York Times on that very subject of Plato and government, and he had this to say:

Current calls for “less government” actually mean less power for elected leaders and for the bureaucracies that serve them and more power for the “oligarchy” of millionaires and corporations.  Such calls also imply less power for the people (the democratic element), since, while elected leaders are directly responsible to those who vote, those whose power is based on wealth are not.  In fact, many of us who bristle at any government interference with our freedom and privacy, accept, as an economic necessity, similar interference from the companies we work for or do business with.

Essentially, he got here by noting that power structure in the United States is divided into varying forms -- government bureaucracy, executive power, corporate power, the democratic process -- all of which creates an ever-varying balance. Depress one form of power -- government, say -- and you lift others.

Makes sense, doesn't it? And it makes sense in the context of Republican rhetoric this presidential primary season, with calls for lower taxes and business-instead-of-government and deregulation and all that. Republicans want business to rule.

It's a call to submission under what they paint as a benevolent authority figure. After all, we -- everyday Americans -- have little or no sway over corporate power. Sure, there's all that talk about the "marketplace," which theoretically holds we do have sway over business through our purchasing decisions, but in reality that's absolute rubbish, of course. Big business acts in self-interest; if a product isn't as profitable as another, even if it would be popular, they won't sell it.  (I can't buy a zero-energy home in Erie, for example.) And certainly big business doesn't act at all in the best interest of a community if there's no short-term impact to the bottom line. (Pollution is a great example. Why spend millions on pollution controls to protect your workers and their families when polluting doesn't negatively impact your bottom line?)

Still, I don't think Gutting's model leaves out a lot of complexity how a society distributes its power. Business isn't all about large corporations. Capitalism has many guises. Small or local business is a kind of political entity that clashes against big business. Morality or ethics also play a role in power, which is expressed in the law. Libertarians and anarchists might argue that individual freedom is a kind of power structure that Gutting ignores.

Or something...but the bottom line is that the current vision of government and business espoused by the mainstream Republican party is a very bad idea. Instead, we need to defend our part in governing the country, our elections and ensuring that our government is responsive to our needs, not corporate America's.

Erie Reader: Vol. 4, No. 22
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CURRENT

Election day is Tuesday. Let's study together.

Veteran metal band GWAR gives Pet Shop Boy's "West End Girls" a heavy dose of rawk while offering up a nice tribute to fallen friends.

A Pa. Supreme Court Justice and a Canadian radio host have very little in common, except that their sexcapades may spell the end of otherwise celebrated careers. 

The Allman Brothers Band ends a 45 year run on a perfect note. 

The Great Barrier Reef is in trouble and Australia is stepping up to save it. In the meantime, oil prices continue to drop, and Tom Wolf swings through Erie on the last leg of his campaign trail. It's humpday, and there's news to be read, people. 

IN THIS ISSUE

A comprehensive list of the Jefferson Educational Society's Global Summit VI, including: the skinny, why it should be on your radar, and why we think it's worth seeing. 

Celebrating a definitive Erie Great: “Easy” Essie Hollis.

Here are a several low-profile, multiplayer video games that deserve to be on your list, according to our gaming expert. 

New Orleans' Crescent City Farmers Marketplace and what Erie could learn from it. 

Frontman Zac Little of the indie folk rockers talks about the band’s latest album, breaking wooden stomp boxes, and NPR Tiny Desk Concerts. 

Will we see a change in voter turnouts come Nov. 4 elections?

More than just an EDM artist, NatasK exhibits a fresh and welcomed sense of where electronic music is headed.

A plethora of reasons why Gov. Tom Corbott is simply the worst governor ever. 

Make no mistake about it – these guys rock first and foremost, especially on this album’s standouts, the anthemic “Obey the Beard,” as well as “Dogs Like Socks,” which explores the complexities of canine/hosiery relations.

It's news, but it's weird. It's... News of the Weird!