Friday, February 11, 2011

Sen. Johnson wants freedom - for private business, not for you and me

Really, this CPAC gathering is a good thing to avoid if you want to keep your food down. Lots of rightist egos trying to out-conservative each other. Our new Sen. Johnson made his debut going on about 'freedom' and how government is bad, bad, bad, and how we ought to gut every kind of government program that assists those left on the margins of the economy, but give people like him lots of tax breaks.

He says that liberals are fostering entitlement and dependency. I think of stuff like Social Security. I pay into it all my life, how then is it an entitlement? It is actually a well-funded trust that gives me back in my retirement years something of what I paid into it.  I'm not 'entitled:' it's my own money! But by this language they try to wrest SS from the public sector in an attempt to get it into the hands of financial/investment institutions like Goldman Sachs - and we see how well that went - pensions replaced by 401ks that went bust in the great financial meltdown of 2008. Wouldn't you rather have a pension? Who do you want in control of your future savings?

Johnson also earned some fame during his campaign by expressing his disdain for climate science. I love that - when non-scientists with a personal stake in the outcome of research criticize decades worth of studies by real scientists. Anyway, he says the globe is probably warming because of solar activity.

Important to note that his company, the one that makes him a millionaire, is a plastics and polyester manufacturing company, called Pacur LLC. Of course, plastics and polyester use lots of oil. So you can imagine that Johnson would not favor things like carbon taxes or ending tax-payer subsidies to oil companies. That would raise his costs of doing business. Better for his company to debunk climate change science.

Well, there are fewer and fewer jobs in the future of a planet approaching a climate tipping point that will result in catastrophic economic disruptions and collapses. Wise it would be for us to create jobs by planning for a future that moves us off fossil fuels, corn ethanol, and other ecologically damaging industries that are altering the chemical makeup of the atmosphere and biosphere.

We have a hard time learning this lesson, that freedom for business is not the same as freedom for people - like those who work for these companies, or folks trying to create a decent life for themselves and their families. The role of government is not to create the environment for unfettered business, it's to help keep the economic rules fair for everyone, not just CEOs. We have to stop confusing 'open for business' with protecting the well-being of workers, youth, those living in poverty, our elderly relying on the SS into which they paid all their lives. One businessman's 'freedom' can become someone else's unemployment, lower wages, lack of health insurance, environmental damage, and more.

Anyway, Johnson asserted that he wanted to make the Obama agenda disappear. Well, Senator, just a reminder - that's not how democracy works. You don't just get your way.

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