The Rush Limbaugh slut-shaming incident reminded me of the Stephen Colbert “It Gets Better” video:
Cretins like Rush Limbaugh throw out those words because they’re the worst things that they can think of to call someone. Rush clearly, if you read the transcript, has no fucking clue how birth control even works:
She gives the numbers: $3,000 worth of birth control pills worth of sex. … So the woman comes forth with this, frankly hilarious claim that she’s having so much sex (and her buddies with her) that she can’t afford it. And not one person says, “Well, did you ever think about maybe backing off the amount of sex that you have?
If you’re a friend of Rush Limbaugh, please call him and explain that women don’t pop a birth control pill when they want to have sex. It’s not like the Viagra that we know he takes (and that is, oddly enough, covered under a fair amount of insurance plans); it’s the same 28 pills every month, regardless of how much sex you’re having.
To get back to my point, though–Rush really doesn’t have a clue what he’s talking about. He’s flinging shit and seeing what sticks. Anybody who takes him seriously doesn’t deserve the breath it would require to argue. We should do what Stephen’s friend did–turn around and tell Rush, “Yes, Rush, we’re sluts who love to have sex. And if you want to continue having sex with us, give us our damn birth control.” He’ll eventually have to slink away. Bullies always do.
There’s one thing I agree with the Republicans about–the government has gotten too big for its britches. But I don’t agree with it for the same reasons that they think it. Wuerker’s comic above illustrates the need for government regulation–the government should keep its citizens safe from the kind of unsavory people who would be lazy, cheap or dishonest enough to build faulty cars, to smile and shake our hands while stealing our life savings, or to create badly needed jobs in an unsafe or unfair work environment. I use the word “should” because I feel that the people of the United States–of any country, really–collectively want to be able to have confidence that the industries we support with the money we work hard to earn are, at the very least, concerned that they won’t put us in harm’s way; history and example have proven that this concern does not uniformly exist. Because the law primarily exists to protect and enrich our lives, because lawmakers are supposed to be elected to represent the whole of the country and not just those who have financial contributions to make, I thoroughly feel–and many others seem to feel the same way–that the law should protect us from the negligence that arises from the profit motive in the industries that we depend on to live.
The GOP would disagree with these sentiments–they clamor for smaller government, less regulation, more “opportunities” for entrepreneurs. When George W. Bush was in office, they attempted to accomplish exactly this; yet, what kind of opportunity has it afforded us for our country? Confidence in the markets is down–way down. Who’s going to buy American-made cars when a superior, more highly-regulated product is available from overseas? If you check the prices on used cars, used Hondas, Toyotas, and other high-MPG, reliable cars from Japan are leading the market. The Japanese have extremely high regulations on their vehicles; as a result, their cars are simply built better. If you had to get rid of your car when it cannot pass an inspection, you would want to buy the best car that you could, to get as much life as possible out of it before having to buy another. We in America have caught onto their superior product and have put our support and our dollars behind it; meanwhile, scores of people have lost their jobs because our own car industry is floundering. Who, also, is going to invest in the financial markets right now? Many working-class people who might have invested before–for retirement, for their children’s educations, to gain capital for a small business or a personal project–are surely now shy of turning their nest egg over to a financial industry that has all-too-recently proven that their unregulated standards of practice could very likely result in the total loss of said nest egg. Who’s buying houses right now? Mr. Geek and I want to own our own home, but with the markets so unstable–with the uncertainty of whether or not we would be able to sell the house if we decided to move on, or whether we would lose value in our home after putting in substantial amounts of capital–we have shelved the idea of purchasing a house for the foreseeable future. I’m sure many people in our situation feel the same way. What kind of “opportunity” is this for America? We can barely feed our cats without the fear of killing them with tainted food.
Regulation creates consumer confidence, which leads to more people willing to part with their limited resources to purchase cars and homes, to invest, to start small businesses that employ people. When the markets are uncertain, we all tighten our belts; we spend less; we employ less; we have fewer opportunities.
This isn’t the only irony of the anti-big-government crowd. It’s not even the worst irony. The worst part, for me, is that their left hands are handing away government cash while the right hands hold protest signs saying that we need a “free” market. I’m talking about subsidies. A subsidy, in case you’re not familiar, is the use of taxpayer money to bolster a private industry, sort of like a government grant for big business. What this generally is supposed to accomplish is to help stabilize certain markets–oil, food, and such–to make sure that we can have access to the things that we need to make the country go-go-go. Only, with the current climate in Washington, these industries are treating it like money for nothing; the oil industry, for example, driving us to the breaking point while making record profits. Our agriculture industry is subsidized, which should be a good thing–except, look at where the subsidies go. To corn. To soybeans. To wheat and feed grains. To cattle. To large, industrial farms–only about 2% of agriculture subsidies go to farms where the farmer actually lives there. That’s significant; farm subsidies used to help people live, not just work. But, even more, there’s a direct connection between where the farm subsidies go and the quality of food that we eat in America. I’ve talked about it many times; the unhealthiest food–the processed stuff–is chock full of high fructose corn syrup, corn oil, corn “solids” (whatever the hell that is), hydrogenated soybean oil, wheat flour. These foods are making us sick; they’re nutritionally deficient and full of empty calories, far too many empty calories; high sugar levels in food contributes to more and more cases of diabetes, occurring now in frightening numbers of children.
What does this have to do with the dangers of big government? Because the crappy food industry is subsidized by our tax dollars–which immediately puts the competition at a disadvantage, because it’s not getting free government money to help keep its prices low. It’s not getting free government money to help expand its production and increase supply to meet demand, which would result in more affordable prices for whole ingredients, even organic ingredients. The playing field is completely uneven in this “free” market. It’s similar with alternative energy–even with gasoline prices being so high (so much for stabilizing that market, eh?), the oil industry is able to meet consumer demand in a way that alternative energy startups could never compete with. Yet many of us recognize that our dependence on oil is a huge problem–if not because you’re worried about global warming, then at least because you can see that the people who control a great deal of the world’s oil are not particularly friendly toward us–and that we lack the resources to meet our own supply. But because politicians–especially the GOP–are friendly with these industries, they get the breaks and we get the shaft.
And let’s not forget about unofficial subsidies–huge corporate tax breaks. Most of your wealthiest corporations receive not just tax cuts, but tax refunds–to the tune of millions of dollars. Refunds. That’s our government giving away our tax dollars to people who already take our money when we purchase their goods and services. These corporations are getting paid by us twice, just for existing, because someone has to make up the revenue lost when they don’t have to pay their full tax burden. It hurts our economy because it keeps the money from flowing back and forth like it needs to; our government is too big when it has the power to wreck the economy for corporate greed–greed that doesn’t even make sense–it doesn’t even make sense! It’s stupid to shrink the economy so you can save money! You can’t save what you’re not earning!
So yes, I do have to agree when these politicians get up in front of the microphones and huff and puff about how government interferes too much in our economy. By deregulating, the government interferes with consumer confidence. By handing out subsidies and tax breaks to corporations that return the favor with campaign contributions and cushy jobs, the government interferes with some of the basic tenets of the capitalist market–it creates high barriers to entry and artificially diminishes the ability to compete. Additionally, the subsidies that should be given out–the ones that we, collectively, as a people, pay for–should be ones that enrich our lives, not ones that make us sick, harm our environment, or generally degrade the quality of our lives. When a group of greedy fools can hijack our well-being as a nation and bring this level of destruction on the lives of the citizens whom they represent, it’s time to cut back the power of the government. Just not the powers that they want us to cut back.