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. 23
Now Available — Pick It Up Today

CURRENT

Five months after the Supreme Court rules against it, Aereo files for Chapter 11 protection.

House Republicans are suing the President. Where's Edgar Snyder when you need him?

President Obama addressed the nation last night in regards to his new plan for immigration policy, did you tune in? If you didn't we've got you covered. In other news, the CIA is trying to delete all their old emails, and in Iraq and Syria the refugee crisis seems to be getting out of hand. 

Local singer parodies infectious pop song to spread message about controversial topic.

Max & Erma's will celebrate the joys of beards and moustaches in a competition to see who has the most fantastic facial hair in the Erie area.

IN THIS ISSUE

The popular genre-bending cellist and composer brings his distinct brand of indie folk to Erie.

The comedy legend makes his first Erie appearance.

Local organization Pro Wrestling Rampage celebrates its 7th anniversary.

Addressing the future of athletics in the Erie School District.

The imminent closing of Shur-fine on West Eighth Street will result in a food desert.

In 2102, a van and a narrow patch of asphalt changed Bob Sonnenberg’s life permanently.

This crowdfunding program could be the answer Erie needs to foster new businesses.

To invest, or not to invest taxpayer money in the Public Safety Radio System – that is the question.

The Texas-based band brings their metalcore to Basement Transmissions.

The real reason the Republican Party came out on top Nov. 4.