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. 5, No. 13
Now Available — Pick It Up Today

CURRENT

Bob Protzman lines up some upcoming jazz festivals that may intrigue you.

2015 has been a good year for new music, but we can't keep track of everything. Here are four albums from the first half of 2015 that we didn't review and still deserve your attention.

FILM screenings award-winning documentary Wednesday, July 1.

With summer officially upon us, plenty of time remains to help Bike Erie reach their 2015 National Bike Challenge goals. 

The High Priestess of Soul to be the focus of a new 100-minute documentary.

IN THIS ISSUE

We have a sincere offer to help revamp Celebrate Erie

Refugees find Erie's Preferred Community rating not very representative of Erie's desire to educate and hire recently relocated individuals.

The UPMC Sunset Music Series will host a display of some local country veterans and new kids on the block when Refuge and M4 hit the stage at Presque Isle Beach 1 Wednesday, July 1.

When the members of The Clarks come to the Burger King Amphitheatre Tuesday, July 7, they'll bring nearly 30 years of good ol' rock experience with them.

The three-day music festival kicks off July 3.

Innovation in and outside of the plastics industry makes Rehrig Pacific a business to be trusted in the Erie area.

Brooke Surgener, a member of the Reader's 2014 40 under 40 class, will show off her DIY attitude and musical talents at the Erie Art Museum's Mid-day Art Break Wednesday, July 1.

The King of Rock 'n' Roll is coming to the Erie Playhouse next week, in the form of the stage's latest fundraising event: Luigi Jannuzzi's All The King's Women.

Can the struggle for power in local government take a break so that change can be achieved?

"We are very stoked for our debut at the Kings Rook and look forward to an epic night full of dancing," MoChester guitarist/pianist/vocalist/cowbellist Jonathan Sheffer said.