Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Why "Libertarians" Are Wrong

Exhibit A: Michigan added to list of states facing salmonella-related egg recall
Say what you will about government intrusion into our lives, at least government is accountable to the people, to some degree.
Here we have a case of a corporation, accountable to no one-- not law, not public shareholders (assuming it's like most nearly every other corporation and has its voting power secured in the hands of the board of directors)-- except for the government and its regulations and inspectors, willfully and negligently introducing toxic bacteria into our food supply.
Over one half billion eggs. Admittedly, when compared to the total number of eggs in circulation annually (80 billion) it seems like small ova, but consider that right now, of that 80 billion, only 7 billion are in circulation, and suddenly a half billion seems like a staggering number. 
Here is where "libertarians" like Beck and his moronic ilk have it wrong: it's the lesser of two evils to have government in our lives a little in order to avoid having business in our lives a lot. When you look back over the history of governance in this country, we've tried to be more sensitive to the needs of corporations than to the needs of citizens, and have gradually realized that we needed a better balance. 
I'm convinced we're not there, not even close, yet. Companies who compete in the economy cut corners. That's a fact. They justify cutting corners by analyzing the risks to the general public and determining whether those risks and the concommitant injuries and damage are worth the potential price they'd pay. 
We're not just talking about manufacturers or farmers. Our entire economy has been destabilized by a bunch of thick-headed yahoos who decided it was OK to risk the entire housing base in order to make a small (as compared to the losses now) profit off the backs of the poor and middle classes. 
If the government unfairly takes away one of my basic rights, I have recourse, not only to the courts, but to my elected officials and to the media, and those government agencies and officials can either be shamed into compliance or removed by either administrative fiat or the votes of the people. 
Who impeaches GM for foisting the Hummer on us? BP for smearing out beaches with oil and killing entire fishing communities? Goldman Sachs for essentially evicting millions of Americans? The list is literally endless.
And that's with a government with oversight and regulatory capacity, as toothless and ineffective as it was for the eight years under Bush! Imagine what we would be facing in a world without even that veil of security?
Corporations cannot be thrown in jail. They can be fined, but those fines rarely amount to anything more than a quarter or two of profits. They cannot be indicted and forced to stand trial. 
Yet, they have been given the same basic civil rights as you or I (with some exclusions. No corporation is ever going to win a Fourteenth Amendment claim.) They have protected speech. They can finance political campaigns. They can be protected from unlawful searches and seizures. And so on. 
But hey, you folks keep on thinking that Obama et al are socialists hell bent on destroying the Constitution. We know who the true enemy of freedom is.