My dad had a saying about people with no common sense: “They must have been behind the door when the brains were handed out.” And then there was Voltaire who said, “Common sense is not so common.”
According to Republicans, there are two problems in our country and two problems only: taxes and over-regulation. In the Republican’s new playbook, all wealthy people are “job creators,” and if lower taxes have not yet created those elusive jobs, well – it’s because we haven’t lowered taxes enough! We don’t have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem!
Over-regulation hurts small businesses, they say. Since when did Republicans care about anything small? I once attended an event in Washington, D.C. where Vice President Dick Cheney asserted that the biggest problem facing small business was tort reform. A year later, it was Social Security. Even the head of the U.S. Small Business Administration admitted that it might be a stretch to believe that. He didn’t last long. You may have noticed that in the Republican Party, it’s the party line or no party.
Most small businesses are relatively un-impacted by regulations that, for instance, prevent them from dumping toxic pollutants into the air or water – things that result in frogs with two heads and fish that glow in the dark. For the most part, those would be your big businesses. Remember when the Detroit River and Lake Erie caught fire? Do you think those events were caused by the corner grocery store, your local book seller or your Uncle Tony’s barbershop?
Even I can admit that the warning labels on some products seem ludicrous. Should anyone be surprised that lighting a tube of tobacco leaves and inhaling the smoke directly into your lungs might be hazardous to your health? But at the risk of sounding unsympathetic, people who need to be told not to iron their clothes while wearing them or to avoid using a hair dryer while bathing, might do us all a favor by nominating themselves for a Darwin award.
But the labels and regulations are there for a reason. They are there primarily to protect us. Do you really want to buy meat with no “sell by” date on it? To work 12-hour days, seven days a week with no paid sick or vacation days? To lose your home because you didn’t read or understand all twenty pages of six-point type? To see your child die of leukemia because of the toxic chemicals he ingests every time he swallows a drink of tap water? Sometimes the labels even protect manufacturers from idiots who don’t have enough sense to figure out that standing on the top rung of a ladder might be a trifle unstable.
When things go wrong, we want to blame someone else and we sue them for damages. Sometimes people are negligent and deserve to be sued. Sometimes stuff happens and that’s life. Frivolous lawsuits are costly to society and to businesses, but all lawsuits are not frivolous. Lawsuits, at their best, hold wrongdoers accountable and right an injustice. But, if you haven’t figured it out yet, justice is not high on the Republican priority list.
Republicans like to describe a society that takes care of the needs of its people in derogatory terms like “the nanny state,” or a “welfare state.” While proclaiming their devout Christianity, they promote a clearly un-Christian society based on “every man for himself.”
Yet people who depend on Social Security and Medicare, who pitch their tents in Yellowstone and Yosemite and who send their children to public school continue to vote for these charlatans. Were they behind the door when the brains were handed out? Or did they go to schools where the school boards have rewritten history, inserted “intelligent design” into the science curriculum and dropped requirements for all students to study civics?
We’ve obviously gone wrong someplace when people don’t know the difference between fascism, communism and socialism and when they continue to believe the President of the United States was born in Kenya despite conclusive evidence to the contrary.
“Every man for himself” does not create a civilized society – it creates chaos, anarchy and inequality. It creates a society in which no one is held accountable for their actions – thus the Republican passion for tort reform. Their motto should be “Don’t blame me.” Or even more appropriately, caveat emptor – buyer beware. A motto to keep in mind next time you enter the voting booth.