Friday, June 04, 2010

Rethinking Big Government

Look toward the Gulf of Mexico this morning. Most of the states in that region seem to be an ever-so-slightly, deeper shade of blue. Most of the people in that area of the country in the past have tended to vote for Conservatives. Most of them have been brainwashed into believing that so-called "BIG GOVERNMENT" is bad. And yet all of them, I'm am certain, are saying quiet prayers of thanksgiving as the sun now rises on those troubled waters, that their government is big enough (we hope) to cope with the current catastrophe. Most of the states that make up the gulf region are doing some serious soul searching today. Most of them. Mississippi, I'm sorry to inform you, is terminally and incurably red. [SIGH]

Perhaps we have arrived at that moment where the essence of the argument against big government has started to shift in a slightly different direction. Shouldn't the argument be focused - not on "big government" - but rather on "good government"? Efficiency versus incompetence? We are now a nation of over three-hundred million people. The very idea that the government should be made smaller - or done away with entirely - is beyond idiotic. Rather than wasting our precious time trying to come up with ways of shrinking it, we should all be working overtime trying to improve it.

"Government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem."

-Ronald Reagan's first Inaugural Address
January 20, 1981

As the
decades ebb away and the judgment of history becomes more dispassionate, this truism will become increasingly apparent:

Ronald Reagan was a fool.

Once upon a time he was a liberal Democrat. As an actor in Hollywood in the thirties, forties and fifties he became fabulously wealthy by starring in a string of perfectly awful films. Back then, the rich were taxed more liberally than they are today. Reagan took a second look at his new fortune and decided he wasn't that much of a Lefty after all. For the rest of his life he dedicated all of his energy toward destroying the foundation of a new deal for the American people that Franklin Roosevelt put into place in the thirties - a new deal that had made a thriving and healthy middle class possible. Reagan was fairly successful in that destruction.

He also succeeded in deregulating industry and the financial marketplace. That deregulation was put into overdrive by his Republican and Democratic successors. What is now happening in the Gulf of Mexico - which could ultimately threaten the lives of every living creature on this planet - is their legacy. It is their gift to posterity. They can have it back.

I'd love to have a really frank discussion with one of the Tea Party types. I realize that this is wishful thinking on my part. It is impossible to have a rational debate with most of these knuckleheads. But just for the hell of it, let me give you what my side of the argument would consist of. It would be whittled down to a series of very simple questions :

Had the government been as minuscule or non-existent as you'd like it to be during the nineteen-forties, do you think for a moment that the United States would have been able to defeat Hitler and the Nazis - not to mention Japan and Italy?

Do you actually believe the U.S. military would have been able to carry out the West Berlin Airlift a few years later - supplying that ideologically landlocked city with food and medicine for over a year, thus preventing mass starvation?

Is it your opinion that the teeny-weeny government of your fondest dreams would have been able to create the incredible interstate highway system during the age of Eisenhower?

Are you actually that delusional that you think for a minute that the Soviet Union would have been very intimidated (if at all) by Jack Kennedy if he had had the watered-down, limited government that you're so fond of during the Cuban Missile Crisis?

Would a small government have been able to send Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldren to the surface of the moon forty-one years ago next month? Do you really entertain such thoughts?

Would the United States have been able to defeat and conquer Saddam Hussein in 2003 without the aid of strong and powerful government agencies behind it???


Okay, maybe that wasn't a particularly good example but you see my point, don't you?

I seriously believe that the governments of Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy would have been better equipped to handle the current crisis in the gulf than the badly neglected and decayed one that was bequeathed to President Obama on January 20, 2009. As this mess spreads further out to sea and starts to effect a good deal of the planet, the United Nations (another perennial target of the extreme right) may have to become involved in the cleanup/rescue effort. It is laughably obvious that BP doesn't know what the hell it's doing, and the United States government simply does not have the technology. Time will tell, but unfortunately time is running out very quickly. As things now stand, the damage that has already been done will more-than-likely take a decade to clean up, and I'm being optimistic.

Here's the punch line. GET READY FOR IT! Some are now implying that this could go on until December - and beyond. Isn't that a jolly thought? Merry Christmas! I just did the arithmetic: We are now forty-six days into this crisis and look at the mess thus far. The Yuletide is not for another two-hundred and four days. Can you even imagine how desperate the situation will be by then? I need a drink. You do, too.

Here's a prediction that I've been making for quite some time: The GOP is not going to make any significant gain in the upcoming election. The events of the last few weeks are only going to seal the deal. Think of the videotape footage that the Democrats have in their arsenal. Scores of Republican events from the previous two years with that moronic mantra being chanted:


Day by day, more and more people - moderates in particular - are becoming turned-off by the mindless extremism. People are starting to ask themselves, "Do I really want to put these assholes back in control?" The answer will overwhelmingly be, "Nah, probably not." As befuddled and pathetic as the Dems have become in recent years, at least most of the silly bastards mean well - I think. With the Republicans it's a completely different story. The "party of Lincoln" has been thoroughly corrupted. They don't even pretend to be on the level anymore. It really is a wondrous thing to behold, isn't it?.

For the die-hards within the loony right wing, I don't suspect that the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico is going to change their peculiar way of thinking very much. They'll continue to bitch and moan, as they always have, about big government while calling for tax cuts for the rich. That is as it should be, I suppose. People like that never admit error and it is unrealistic to expect them to change their ways any time soon. It's the people straddling the fence who are the ones that will deliver the big blow come November. Like the old tune says, they're "beginning to see the light".

Tom Degan


Killer Politics:
by Ed Schultz


"The nation's economy added 431,000 jobs in the month of May, and the unemployment rate dipped to 9.7 percent...."

How will the Republicans possibly be able to put a negative spin on those figures? They'll find a way. Count on it.


Please read Bob Herbert's piece in this morning's New York Times to learn what Texaco/Chevron did to the people of the Amazon Rain Forest. Here's a link:


At 8:02 AM, Blogger Steve Gravano said...

Good post, I don't think you'll find a level-headed member of the Tea Party willing to listen to any other argument but theirs. I do think that BP is more equipped to handle this mess than government is.
The bigger question; have Americans learned anything about off-shore drilling or our dependency on oil from all this?
Your rants are always thought provoking.

At 9:49 AM, Blogger Rain Trueax said...

They're already worrying there won't be more new drilling. They use no logic and it's why we are where we are with the oil industry being effectively as deregulated as the financial with the same catastrophic results!

At 12:09 PM, Blogger charles moore said...

Hi Tom,

First, thanks for your put down of Reagan. From his first day in office I have never been able to understand the misplaced adulation that so many have for this senile old fool.

The gulf oil spill is probably the biggest catastrophe to hit this country in my life time and yet I can hardly believe the hypocrisy coming from the right. First they are screaming that Obama has not done enough, but you can bet the farm that if he had tried to take over from day one they would also be screaming and wetting their panties about Big Government stepping in to what should be a private industry problem.

This is obviously going to take government intervention at some point, but this is a BP problem not a government problem. This is BP's supposed field of expertise and if they screw up, let them fix it. If nothing else, I hope to god that out of this we can finally blow the lid off the the secret meetings that Cheney had with the oil industry. Is it too much to hope that the old vampire might end up with his ass in prison?

At 12:16 PM, Blogger Tom Degan said...

Charles, that would be too good to be true. And I think it might very well happen. I have a feeling that the trillion dollar shithammer is about to come crashing down on the Dickster's clueless head. Hope you're well!


At 3:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Breaking news! 95% of those jobs are temp jobs txs to the Census. The market really reacted well to that job news that garbage for someone else.

Also, you speak for all conservatives when you include the examples in your post. Yes, we want government...for defense and protecting the citizens from disasters no matter who causes it.

"Did you plug the hole yet daddy" what a joke Thug Boy is. Wish Cheaney would waterboard him!

Harry from Mass

At 5:50 PM, Anonymous The Boy Wonder said...

Holy dumber than dogshit Batman!!

At 4:57 AM, Anonymous Ron Baldwin said...

Finally, someone who is willing to say the Emperor (Reagan) has no clothes.

Reagan made his money as an actor, and that money was taxed as “ordinary income.” In 1981 the maximum tax rate on ordinary income was 50%. The Tax Reform Act of 1986 (TRA ’86) reduced the tax rate on ordinary income to 28%. Think of Bill Cosby in 1986 to put that into perspective. Cosby’s ordinary income was reputed to be about $80 million in 1986. I mean no disrespect to Mr. Cosby. I think he is a fine person and earned every penny of that income. But TRA ‘86 reduced the tax rate on that income by 22%, which translates to about $17 million more that Bill Cosby could keep.

Another thing TRA ’86 did was lump all income, including dividends and capital gains, with ordinary income and tax it all at the same rate. That started a hue and cry that taxing capital gains at such high rates (28%) reduced the flow of money into new and productive areas by freeing up locked capital gains. Anyone remember the old trickle down mantra? Let’s for the moment agree that unlocked capital gains does free up money for new investment. But look at the other side of the transaction. For every seller there is a buyer. So for a seller to unlock capital a buyer has to lock up capital to buy whatever produces the capital gain. It’s a zero sum game. Duh.

And after W was anointed President by the Supremes in 2001, a little bird (aka Darth Vadar) whispered in his ear that dividends as well as capital gains should be taxed at the same lower rate. And voila! The tax rates on dividends and capital gains were then reduced to a maximum rate of 15%. That change was reputed to save Mr. Vadar about $300,000 a year.

Now consider the members of the lucky sperm club who do not have to work for a living. No ordinary income like all working stiffs whose every dollar of earnings have 15.3% taken for Social Security and Medicare taxes even before there is any thought of income taxes. Members of the lucky sperm club pay a maximum tax of 15%on their dividends and capital gains. Again, I mean no disrespect to members of the lucky sperm club. I am sure that by and large they are decent human beings. I merely use them to point out disparity in how we tax different types of income.

Unfortunately what trickles down on working people seems to have a decidedly yellow tint.

At 12:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought the term "Rant," when used within the context of griping about politics, pretty much belonged to Dennis Miller. At least you're borrowing from someone who is actually intuitive and on-target politically. Another former liberal who grew up.

"Show me a young conservative and I'll show you someone with no heart. Show me an old liberal and I'll show you someone with no brains."
- Winston Churchill

At 12:42 PM, Anonymous Archie Bunker said...

"The nation's economy added 431,000 jobs in the month of May, and the unemployment rate dipped to 9.7 percent...."

LOL on that one. The vast majority of the 431,000 "jobs" were for the census. No government inflating of the numbers LOL. People who were trained for one Census position, then let go and retrained for a another Census position, are being counted as 2 newly created jobs; pure BULLSHIT.

At 2:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom Degan is a spammer who gets traffic on his website by spaming ALL ACROSS THE COUNTRY. Just do a google search for "degan inurl:craigslist" to see his posts trying to attract readers. When deleted off the system he reposts forcing himself on small towns, etc.
Can you believe that? What a loser!

At 2:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom Degan is a spammer who gets traffic on his website by spaming ALL ACROSS THE COUNTRY. Just do a google search for "degan inurl:craigslist" to see his posts trying to attract readers. When deleted off the system he reposts forcing himself on small towns, etc.
Can you believe that? What a loser!

At 3:27 PM, Blogger charles moore said...

Anonymous, as for Tom's "forcing" himself on small towns, did someone grab you or anyone else by the ears and drag you kicking and screaming to force you to read Tom's Rant? There is such a thing as choice and you can either choose to read or not to read. If it offends you, don't read it, although by reading a different point of view you just might learn something. Although I disagree with Beck, Limbaugh, O'Reilly, I listen to what they have to say and try to figure out where they are coming from.

And Anonymous, a "loser" is someone who does not have the guts, balls or tits to sign his or her own name but chooses to hide behind a mask of anonymity - sort of like the KKK in their white hoods.

3:02 PM

At 3:46 PM, Blogger Tom Degan said...

What's wrong if I post a link to my blog all over the country? Of course I want as many readers as possible! What the heck is wrong with that? I did not start this site four years ago merely to talk to myself.

What I hate is the idea that only people with a certain point of view are able to get posted on the Eugene, Oregon Craigslist without being flagged and removed. Think I'll try again, though.

Thanks for the kind words, Charles!


At 5:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dork wrote, "Anonymous, as for Tom's "forcing" himself on small towns, did someone grab you or anyone else by the ears and drag you kicking and screaming to force you to read Tom's Rant? There is such a thing as choice and you can either choose to read or not to read. If it offends you, don't read it"

Have you ever read what spammers' say to excuse their spamming? It looks like you copied straight from their message. "if you don't like it don't read it", idiot.

At 5:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so happy that you have adopted a spam practice. I agree that if a reader doesn't like it they shouldn't read it, just ignore it.

I am posted this website on a spammer's IRC channel and said that Tom Degan is spam friendly. Soon there will be hundreds of porn spammers posting comments on your web site. Get ready to be real popular real fast! Thanx!

At 7:00 PM, Blogger Tom Degan said...

"I am posted this website on a spammer's IRC channel and said that Tom Degan is spam friendly. Soon there will be hundreds of porn spammers posting comments on your web site. Get ready to be real popular real fast! Thanx!"

That, I'm sorry to say, is the way people like you operate. Don't let others put their ideas out there. And then you try to sabotage my site with porn spam. And you'll notice that I didn't delete any of the nonsense you posted here. Unlike you, I believe in the First Amendment.

By the way, we are not "spam friendly".

At 7:27 PM, Blogger charles moore said...


You said "I am posted this website..." Dude, you need some serious remedial work in grammar.

At 8:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

you really are an idiot

At 10:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ron Baldwin says,
“So for a seller to unlock capital a buyer has to lock up capital to buy whatever produces the capital gain. It’s a zero sum game. Duh.”

It is not a zero sum game. Not sure who filled your head with that silliness. If it were, the concept of economic growth would be non-existent. The “buyer” of capital (i.e. the small or large businessman) is purchasing the capital with the intent of creating value that did not exist before. Sometimes he does, sometimes he doesn’t – but that’s the goal. So, what is happening is that the buyer (not the seller) is “unlocking” the capital as you termed it. The government is incapable of doing this as a “buyer”. They do not create jobs or wealth. They do provide services and a necessary civil function and do need funds to operate – no doubt. But they shouldn’t get one more nickel than is necessary for these functions. And, people differ on what they believe the right functions of government are – vis-à-vis the big vs. small government argument. We can debate that, but you’ve got to get your facts straight or you’ll come up with ideas that do not match reality. Capitalism is patently NOT a zero sum game – that’s the whole basis for it – that it’s value creating at its very essence.

At 3:05 PM, Blogger Sue said...

Great job Tom! I also love the Reagan putdown, the guy was the beginning to the end of the middle class and tell that to a libertarian!

Anonymous is just jealous of your fabulous blog, all your fabulous followers, and your fabulous self! Keep up the good work Tom!

At 10:27 AM, Anonymous pooorpeddler said...

Tom sorry I have been absent I did miss your rants. To prove the GOP has lost their way LA Governor Bobby Jindal announced he had no confidence BP could stop the oil from the damaged well than went on to add it would be a grave mistake to stop deep water drilling. Mississippi’s Haley Barbour stated with help of an interpreter MS is open for business. Who in their right mind wants to go to MS, I don’t even like to fly over the state. Most residents can’t move because they are to poor.

At 11:22 AM, Blogger Tom Degan said...


God bless Molly Ivins. She once remarked that all Texans owe a deep debt of gratitude to Mississippi. But for that state, Texas would be dead last in everything

All the best,

Tom Degan

At 11:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is the dumbest drivel I've ever seen.

At 12:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"There you go again", Tom, to quote a great American. You have no sense of balance and shit for brains.

At 2:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You totally missed the point about Big Government ... like a Jombo Jet whizzing over your head at 40,000 ft ... you totally missed the point.

Nothing thought provoking here, just provoking and sad, sad that someone purported to be intelligent could be so far off the mark and misrepresent the views of others.

At 8:19 PM, Anonymous Laura said...

Can we just acknowledge that the right does not actually hate big government? The thing is that they actually love it, but only when it pays for the things they support, like wars, disaster relief, roads, bridges, tunnels and other pork barrel projects they like, along with the military, medicare, space travel, the FDA, national parks, libraries, mass transit, air traffic control, and a thousand other things they don't even understand that the government does for them everyday! We all know GW was a big spender and the right hardly complained until the war and the economy wasn't fun anymore and everyone stopped wanting to have a beer with him.

At 12:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Came here from the LA times article where Tom comments sadly about barry being somewhat of a letdown. It's such a sad comment - he doesn't want to pile onto ole Barry, but he's upset that he's not meeting his FDR potential.

I think you're all sad and pathetic. Drill baby drill makes sense when it's not pushed miles away from the shore because of nimby and enviro reasons. Fracking drill in Anwar please. Wind and solor and geothermal and reducing consumption will only cut our demand by 15-20% in the best case scenarios. So long as we have growth in this country (and people's living standards improve as a result), there will be more energy used. Energy translates to prosperity unfortunately. Unless you want to start washing dishes by hand, and traveling by foot everywhere you go. Sounds like poverty to me, but maybe that's what you're aiming for.

And quit lumping Rino's together with conservative. Drives me berserk when you dmbshts do that.

At 5:40 PM, Blogger Cimarron said...

@Tom - an aside: do you remember "The Killers," a noirish 60s remake (of a much better film from 1947)? Lee Marvin & Clu Culagher as hit-men, John Cassavettes as the fall-guy, Angie Dickenson as the moll, & Ron Reagan as the nastiest, most cowardly, lying double-crossing snake you'd never want to meet - a not-so-ironic bit of type-casting. Ω

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