They hate us for our freedoms 7

Now, let us talk politics. In the US, politics is all about freedom. Well, the idea of politics is all about the idea of freedom. Close up, on the ground, not so much. As I said in one of the early parts of this extended essay, politics is about getting politicians reelected. In this day and age, that means spending money to generate fear and trash the opposition. Today, the discussions are all about the base, those people who believe that the politician’s political philosophy is the same as their own (they are usually wrong). The base is important because that’s who makes up the bulk of a party’s supporters — if they come out and vote, things are good. If they don’t, the party is in trouble. In order to ‘activate the base’, a politician has to rile up his constituents and make them afraid, to make them angry, to make them willing to get up from in front of “Dancing…” and go out and vote. And then, in order to demonstrate that their vote was not wasted, the politician feels compelled to do something to combat the subject of the subjective fears. Usually, that involves limiting someone’s freedom.

But before we get to freedom, let’s talk money. It takes money to get elected these days, and lots of it. Where does the money come from? Well, it comes from….wait for it…people who have money. With todays level of inequality, that’s rich folk. That’s businesses. Poor folk? There’s lots of them, but few are engaged enough to spend their extremely limited discretionary funding on politicians. Unions? They used to be big, but the relentless attacks of the US government and big business over the last two decades, combined with the shift of manufacturing to non-union locations, has pretty well killed their ability to raise funds. Structurally, our system is set up so that politicians, of whatever stripe, have to pander to big business if they want to get elected.

Of course, business in the US today is spread across the board, philosophically. There are liberal leaning businesses. They are the new ones, the high tech ones, the Intels, the Googles, the Apples and the Microsofts. They are big and rich, and there are not a lot of them. They are also not always as universally enlightened as one might think. Microsoft couldn’t have been created under todays patent regime, but they are willing and able to use the patent club to beat the open source community with. Why? Because when it comes to software competition, they fall into the second group of companies: the big, rich, reactionary businesses, the ones we talked of earlier, the ones who are fighting a scorched earth action against the future. Who cannot understand the concept of a future based on plenty rather than scarcity, or who understand it well enough to realize it means their death. Who are taking the role Louis the XV — “Après moi, le déluge”. The trouble is, there are more reactionaries than there are visionaries in the US right now, and the reactionaries control more money and are willing to spend more of it to influence the outcomes in politics.

The intersection of politics and money means that those who want to be reelected must take into account the desires of the reactionary rich. Just look at what some Democrats are saying about finance reform, and what they were saying about health reform. There are those who would formally designate this a plutocracy. Of course, this isn’t new. But what is new is the disconnect between the rate of change of citizen-empowering technology, and the rate of change of the rest of the system. An impedence mismatch, if you will.

So, the political side of government is beholden to business, reactionary business, and the bureaucracy side of government takes their clues from the politicians, and the technology is changing faster than ever. What does this bode for freedom and the future? Short term, it bodes not well, and I’ll have more to say about that next time.

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One Response to “They hate us for our freedoms 7”

  1. Kurt Says:

    Alternately, Dancing… is also a place where disgraced politicians can go. In Tom Delay’s case, to go and fail miserably.

    Richard Reich does a nice job on this topic (your’s, not Dancing With the Stars) from the economists POV in Supercapitalism.

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