Spiderman and Big Government   Leave a comment


So, one of the standard tropes that I used to believe in was that liberals supported big government. Now that I fall into the liberal camp, I can see where that idea comes from, even ignoring my opposition to the war on drugs (about fifty billion government dollars every year) and the security state (about a trillion government dollars spent every year).

After all, I want the government to take over healthcare and social security. I want more funding for universities that conduct research, the FDA, and to pay teacher’s salaries. I like Bloomberg’s ban on big sodas and I think Facebook should be regulated. So I get where the big government idea comes from. I want government to do a lot of different things.

But I don’t consider myself to be a big government person. I don’t support big government because I do not trust the government. Let me repeat that. I do not trust the government. I think there are a lot of good people in government at all levels (with the possible exception of the top levels), but there are also more than a few who are incompetent, lazy, careless, or corrupt. I don’t support big government because of these people. I am constitutionally incapable of supporting big government because of these people. These people make me angry, sad, and frustrated all the time.

So, now you’re wondering why, if I understand that government is deeply flawed, I want the government to stick its nose into the lives of so many different people. The answer is that I don’t want the government sticking its nose into the lives of so many people. I like his ban on oversized cups, but Bloomberg is not really someone I want dictating diet choices to people.

The reason I support Bloomberg’s ban is because as little as I like Bloomberg, I like massive multi-national soft drink and bottling corporations even less. You see, if Bloomberg’s ban goes away, that doesn’t mean that people will suddenly be able to drink what they want to drink of their own free will and rational choice. No, if Bloomberg’s ban goes away, people will drink the products available to their meager resources according to habits that the Coca-Cola bottling company has spent millions of advertising dollars cultivating since we were old enough to watch TV.

Likewise with healthcare. I don’t really trust the government to run healthcare. You know who I trust less? The insurance companies that don’t even have a theoretical responsibility to uphold the public good. Likewise, there’s a lot of waste that goes on in research universities, but research universities are more willing than massive drug companies to research the benefits of non-drug solutions because research universities are not driven by profit.

So it’s not that I like big government. I don’t. I just prefer giving control of healthcare to the government rather than some corporation that isn’t even theoretically accountable to the people it serves. And when an organization serves enough people, I think those people deserve some say in how they are served. I don’t have any particular regulation that I want to impose on Facebook, but I do think that Facebook is important enough to American life in general that Americans should have some say in how Facebook is run. In fact, that’s why I want government healthcare and government social security. Healthcare and retirement theoretically affect almost everyone. Therefore everyone should get a say and the government should be accountable to everyone.

And that issue of accountability is a big one for me. I’ll talk a lot on this site about what I want the government to do, but I’ll also talk a great deal about what the government shouldn’t be doing. I’ll talk about the war on drugs. I’ll talk about drone strikes. I’ll talk about the fact that the police can often confiscate your camera if they think you’re taking photos of them. I will criticize the government thoroughly because it is theoretically accountable to me. Coca-Cola doesn’t have a legal obligation to me. It isn’t there to serve me. It was created to make as much money as it could, and my complaints about advertising targeted at children is not something it needs to take seriously. On the other hand, if I criticize the president or the police, I’ve got a leg to stand one. Our government is here to serve the public, so I’m at least talking to the right people when I complain about how the government has failed to serve the public.

Basically, Spiderman was right. With more power comes more responsibility. Since Coca-Cola is only responsible to its share holders, it ticks me off that they have so much power. And it makes me happy that Bloomberg, who at least in theory is responsible to the city of New York, has taken some of Coca-Cola’s power away. I’m not forBig Government. I’m against Huge Corporations. They’re not responsible. They’re not even supposed to be (at least not to us). So why do they have so much power?

So, however much you don’t like Bloomberg,  can you really argue with Spiderman?

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