If government were a bad thing, I’d be against it. But government is what keeps the hoodlum down the street from helping himself to my TV and the hoodlums across the ocean from helping themselves to our country. It is also supposed to protect us from hoodlums with fountain pens and armies of lawyers and accountants.
I cannot and would rather not have to protect myself from such things. My house is not a sovereign country that I must defend against all comers. There are actually people who think the world should work this way; their elevators do not seem to be making it all the way to the top floor.
If taxes were a bad thing, I’d be against them. But the truly tiny amount of my income that I pay in taxes is worth not being robbed at every turn. Besides protection, there are other things the government supplies that I could never provide for myself, like roads, education, and fire protection. While private companies could probably supply lots of these things, it seems unlikely that regular people could afford to use them. Some folks are fond of reminding us that freedom isn’t free. Freedom from the predations of criminals, whether petty, corporate or international, is not free either. Taxes are the dues we pay to have the benefits we get from the country we live in.
The tea party radicals pride themselves on loving their country, but they have some rather peculiar ideas of how to do it. They seem to think that taxes are a burden. People who live where there is no law would probably be happy to pay a lot of taxes to live somewhere safe. Not the tea partiers. They are sure that if they starve the government, they’ll get more of something in return, and indeed they will, but it will not be what they planned.
These peculiar ideas have come to them from some decidedly biased sources. The only real surprise is the fact that they fail to see that they are being used.
A few weeks ago the New Yorker ran a story about David and Charles Koch. It seems that these two billionaire brothers have spent piles of money to smooth the way for their company, Koch Industries. Koch Industries is an oil producer that has been named by Greenpeace as one of the “kingpins of climate science denial.” The company has also been named one of the top ten air polluters in the United States. But enough about their naughtiness. These guys defy comparison.
They’ve given boatloads of money to tea partiers to train them how to fight the government’s increasing taxes on people like the Kochs. Koch Industries is the second largest privately owned company in the United States. The Kochs, apparently, think they should not be expected to pay for the roads, police protection, utility infrastructure and whatnot that enabled them to make their fortune. Rather than pay taxes, they spend their money on getting stupid people to cut their own throats.
The brothers have a foundation that gives money to groups that promote their bottom line. David Koch founded Americans for Prosperity, a group that does some interesting things. One of those things is called the Freedom from Foreign Oil campaign. The name is wonderful. The name is Orwellian. They grade members of congress on how they vote on oil issues. If they vote for relaxing environmental restrictions on domestic production of oil, they get a good grade. If they vote to promote alternative energy and protect the environment, they get a bad grade. “Friends of OPEC” are those representatives who fail to vote to allow domestic oil producers to do whatever they want, regardless of the consequences, environmental or otherwise. The idea is not to free America from foreign oil so much as it is to free Koch Industries from having to leave the planet habitable.
So when one imagines that the Kochs and the kool-aid party win, what will happen?
There will indeed be more. More pollution. More environmental sickness that comes from pollution. More money for the Kochs and other very rich people. More poverty for the rest of us. More crime when police protection is no longer affordable for local governments. More oil for a little while, and then more misery for the stupid people who did not believe fossil fuels would ever run out. More climate change. More children, and more uneducated children.
There will also undoubtedly be more private prisons, because (according to libertarian philosophy) the only legitimate function of government is to protect private property rights. And those prisons might just be the best place to be after a while, because at least the inhabitants will have three hots and a cot, which may be more than the rest of us gets.