There are many opinions and ideologies proffered by pundits, historians, and politicians about the role of government, but nearly all conservatives embrace the Reagan philosophy that government is the enemy of the people. It is interesting that although Republicans revere their godhead’s ideology, they demand government assistance when it helps them and their corporate masters and traditionally increase the size and scope of government when they are in power to further that end. However, regardless how much they increase government spending, it is never for citizens’ who fund their corporate largesse and perpetual war-mongering. For the past two weeks, Republican presidential candidates have decried government spending for programs that aid the majority of Americans at the same time they promote government spending for the wealthy and their corporations. It is an endemic problem with Republicans, and in varying degrees of severity they promote causes and issues that will do more damage to America and its people than any natural disaster or terrorist attack. Republican presidential candidates use distorted logic that conceals a corporatist mindset that if government spends taxpayer money, it must help corporations, the wealthy, and private enterprise; not American citizens.
Ron Paul asserted that FEMA should be abolished because it is wasteful as well as unconstitutional, and his comments are prescient in light of hurricane Irene and the earthquake centered in Virginia. Last May, Paul equated abolishing FEMA with morality, a free society, and good economics and he repeated his remarks again on Fox News Sunday. For example, according to Paul, if a natural disaster devastates the Gulf Coast, “Why should somebody from the central part of the United States rebuild” someone else’s house? He states people in affected areas should “buy their own insurance and protect about the potential dangers. It’s a moral hazard to say government is always going to take care of us when we do dumb things, besides, it’s not authorized in the Constitution.” There are several problems with Paul’s thinking, but his comments reveal his Libertarian bent that private enterprise is the answer to America’s problems.
It is dangerous to speak for all Americans, but Paul is taking the low ground when he implies that people in one region should oppose their tax dollars being used to help another region of the country. If all Americans had Paul’s attitude, the residents of Joplin Missouri would have objected to government assistance for the Gulf Coast after hurricane Katrina, or the BP oil spill that devastated the region because it had no direct impact on them. However, when a tornado ravaged Joplin, the residents were thankful for the government assistance to clean up and rebuild the area. Americans are not yet as greedy as Libertarians like Ron Paul whose solution to natural disasters is to buy more insurance and enrich the industry’s bottom line. As far as morality, it is Americans’ moral obligation to assist their fellow countrymen and Americans have always stepped up when disaster strikes anywhere in the country. As for buying more insurance, Paul fails to acknowledge that private insurance hardly covers damage from natural disasters like flooding under the “act of God” provision in most homeowner’s policies. But Paul still wants Americans to buy coverage from the insurance industry even though there is no promise they will pay out when a disaster occurs.
Then there is Paul’s statement that the government should not assist Americans when they do dumb things like live in a region where natural disasters occur. All Americans should be outraged and insulted that an elected representative of the government equates living along the coast with being dumb. It is unclear exactly how Americans can avoid doing dumb things like live in regions where earthquakes, hurricanes, flooding, tornadoes, droughts, and man-made disasters like the BP oil-spill occur, but Paul’s answer is to buy more insurance.
Every American benefits from government programs and assistance whether it is early warning for extreme weather events or disaster relief for drought-stricken Texas. When Americans pay taxes, and all Americans pay taxes, they assume that they will get some benefit whether it is safe roads, fire and police protection, or disaster relief for hurricane Irene. The residents on the East coast benefitted from the West coast residents’ tax dollars that funded FEMA and the assistance they provided during evacuations, but under Ron Paul’s philosophy, East coast residents should have fended for themselves for being stupid enough to live in a hurricane region. That is not the way Americans have traditionally viewed their role as citizens. Americans have always united to help each other regardless of the region they live, and without that sense of unity and shared sacrifice, America would have been defeated in World War II.
Ron Paul is not alone in calling established federal agencies and programs unconstitutional and wasteful; nearly all Republicans are corporatists calling for elimination of important government programs that all Americans depend on, benefit from, and pay for with their tax dollars. There is no shortage of conservatives who lack allegiance to the American people, and there are no Republicans who are not dedicated to enriching corporate wealth at the expense of the American people.
The government does not exist to reward corporations and the wealthy, but that is the Republican Party’s mission since Reagan was president. It would be interesting to hear exactly what Ron Paul and Republicans say they envision the government’s role is, and in lieu of a pack of lies and corporatist propaganda, there is little they could say to belie their corporatism and privatization agenda. Americans deserve more from government than Republicans are willing to allow and it is leading to a time when the majority of Americans live in abject poverty so 400 ultra-wealthy families can maintain their opulent lifestyle. Republicans claim the Founding Fathers would reject the government as we know it today, but one thing is certain; they did not envision a population of peasants serving the church and the landed gentry. That is, after all, why many Europeans emigrated to the New World in the first place.