This week’s inductee into the “Overrated Hall of Fame” is … your “less government” rant.
The Republican presidential candidates are holding another debate this week. I’ll read all about it the next day, but I won’t be watching. My Sony Bravio flat screen was damn expensive, and I’m not sure I’ll be able to resist hurling my nearby bottle of scotch through the screen when millionaire Rick Perry answers every question by blaming the overwhelming presence of the evil federal government in our lives.
My politics skew to the liberal side, but I always listen to reasoned, intelligent arguments from level-headed conservatives who base their arguments on reason, facts and news sources not owned by Rupert Murdoch. (Perhaps you’ve met those same three people.) I usually understand their views, even though I passionately disagree. Usually.
I get incensed every time I hear some Tea Party yahoo or some pandering politician scream mindlessly about how we have to reduce the role of the federal government in our lives. It’s a surefire soundbite for lazy network news producers, and it’s always the second biggest applause line at conservative rallies. (After, of course, the subtly racial anti-Obama slur.)
If you listen to these politicians and far-right wackos (hey, I didn’t say I engage in reasoned, intelligent argument … I just enjoy listening to those who do), you’d think good ol’ Uncle Sam has been overthrown by an ever-intrusive Big Brother who tells us what to eat, when to shit and how to fuck.
Now, I’m certainly not one of those flag-waving, rah-rah America types. I’ve railed about the potentially insidious dangers of the Patriot Act and the expansive powers of the Department of Homeland Security. I’m not comfortable with the ever-increasing presence of surveillance cameras (called “security” cameras in clever attention to the power of connotation). But other than that, I can’t really think of any ways in which our federal government is intruding upon my daily life and making me more miserable and less free.
If you are one of these angry, anxious Americans who want the federal government to butt out of your life, consider the following.
Do you have a child? If so, that child has probably ridden in a car seat. You can strap the little brat in the seat and be pretty sure that the slightest fender bender isn’t going to snap the kid’s neck, because car seats must now be built to certain standards, federal standards set down by those buttinski politicians.
The next time you’re cruising on some interstate and you see an 18-wheeler loaded with steel pipe barreling down the mountainside behind you, you can be pretty certain that the truck isn’t 2000 pound overweight and that the brakes have been inspected and that the driver hasn’t been behind the wheel for 28 of the past 30 hours. You know, federal regulations and all.
You probably eat three meals a day. (Okay, you’re an American, so make that 5.7 meals per day.) You no doubt snack as if the secret to eternal life can be found in the bottom of a Doritos bag. How many times have you suffered from food poisoning? I don’t mean the salmonella you got because your drunk ass left the raw chicken set out for six hours or the E. Coli you got at the Memorial Day picnic because drunk and dipshitted Uncle Charlie still can’t figure out how to get the charcoal hot. I’m talking from that pack of Oreo’s or that box of Count Chocula. Never? That’s probably because despite the occasional glitch in the food processing and distribution systems, 300 million Americans, for the most part, get through the day eating safe, albeit unhealthy, foods, thanks to federal standards. (Yes … yes, I know. Occasionally people die from E. Coli and salmonella, but when you consider the population of this country and the amount of food consumed, it’s amazing it doesn’t happen more often.)
The economy tanked a few years ago. Most of us know at least a few people who lost jobs through no fault of their own. Some of these people have homes and families. I have three relatives that got laid off. Thank god for unemployment benefits, which have kept the entire system from collapsing, which seems to be the preferred option of all the less-federal-government people.
And what about those old people in your family, the ones who rely on that monthly Social Security check because they have the gall to want extravagances such as food and a place to live? It seems the federal government’s presence in their mailboxes is not such a bad thing, because those are your deserving relatives. I guess it’s not Aunt Helen or Pop Pop who are robbing us blind and milking our tax dollars, it’s all those other undeserving cretins who feel a sense of entitlement.
Perhaps you’d have us do away with OSHA, too, that meddling agency that has worked for decades to make it harder to get electrocuted, blinded, burned or paralyzed at work. And once we’ve scrapped OSHA, let’s scrap that minimum wage those quasi-commie feds make businesses pay. Perhaps if we let companies go back to paying workers in the $2 per hour range, we can recoup some of those sneaker manufacturing jobs that are done by yellowish people … in factories that are not monitored by the likes of OSHA.
Let’s also shred that Passenger Bill of Rights. Without those bothersome federal regulations, we can board an airplane secure in the knowledge that we can sit on a hot tarmac for five hours before that four-hour flight to Phoenix, knowing there’s not a damn thing we can about it then or after.
And the next time your area gets hit by a tornado, hurricane or flood, don’t you dare go pleading for FEMA or accept one goddamn bottle of free water, because that’s the federal government once again sticking their noses into your homeless, thirsty and hungry business.
Okay, the point has been belabored, but the point has also, I hope, been made. Most of the regular people in America screaming for less federal government often live lives that are repeatedly made better by the federal government.
Stop doing the bidding of big business, the real force behind this less government tide. “Less Government” means just two things to these corporations: lower corporate taxes and fewer regulations on the way they do business.
Sure, there are issues worthy of serious debate in terms of the fed’s role in our lives, such as abortion, taxes, guns and health care. Bring on your best argument and make your point with intelligence, reason and depth. (In other words, no Fox News talking points allowed.) Just stop carrying signs with silly anti-government slogans, and stop shouting down your congressmen at town hall rallies, and stop making veiled racial comments when attacking a president whose policies you don’t like. Of course, that’s just a request. You are free to do all of those things. Because the federal government protects your right to do so.
Ned Bitters is, in fact, overrated. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.