My Irish Up: Problem solved

Mike Corrigan

Mike Corrigan

By Mike Corrigan

BN Columnist

There is nothing wrong with America’s ideals, never has been. All we need do is stop rigging the game and start living those ideals, so that all people can contribute their talent, ideas, work and energy to create more self-sufficient local communities.

We need to do this by letting markets actually work, fairly and competitively. The key: federal government must stop subsidizing big business and small business will flourish. Whatever is big hates innovation: it wants to keep on doing the same big things that made it big in the first place. That’s called “efficiency.” But small, allowed its space, is creative; it tries new things. Yes, small is wasteful; a lot of new things don’t work. But some do, enough do. And in such a world, quality becomes important again. Craftsmanship matters. Consumers, transformed into customers; the human, reinserted into the marketplace. And life for the bread-and-circuses millions will be worth living, and not just something to be endured until the TV goes off.

Downsize the government. Downsize corporations. Virtual monopolies destroy individual freedom. Stop subsidizing the fossil fuel industry, so that competition from more sustainable energy sources will naturally result, lessening the destruction of the ecosphere. Stop subsidizing big agriculture so that small, local, healthier food supplies will develop to fill the gap and feed the world, one town, one state at a time; let’s provide good food, instead of processed junk. Let’s stop subsidizing big arms manufacturers with billions of taxpayer dollars; let’s get out of the death business. Let’s stop subsidizing entirely whatever is big; big doesn’t need tax breaks, if anything it should be taxed more heavily, to offset the concentrated harm hugeness does to the environment and to our quality of life. Whatever is small needs to be lightly taxed. Federal subsidies and federal services will be much less needed. Taxes should be halved.

The entire point of corporate America is to produce things, advertising what people want, to make the greatest profit and satisfy the stockholders; the entire point of a diversified America would be to make and distribute things people actually need and want to buy, to build self-sufficiency and to value what’s local. Investments could be localized, geared to regional projects serving regional needs. Small banks could flourish again. Small communities and cities would offer small entrepreneurs a chance to purvey, and maybe even to manufacture, products that are — o, frabjous day! — not total pieces of crap. Individual lives would have purpose, and would be seen to have a value. In America, a human life’s value is measured by its buying power; we no longer even think about what it may produce, because machines are more efficient, and lives that can be exploited offshore will produce the goods even more cheaply. The current setup is ideal only for corporations and consumers; for businessmen, craftsmen and citizens, not so much.

Government is too big and too centralized — and so are all American institutions, which have taken the corporation as a model. In 2010, the Supreme Court decided that corporations are people. If so, they are sociopaths. (An actual corporate conscience, after all, wouldn't be efficient.) People act as if capitalism were written into the Constitution: sorry, the Constitution talks about the rules for a representative democracy. The federal government must stop acting as if we want a government of the corporation, by the corporation and for the corporation.

The neoconservative American corporate model and the neoliberal global market model might work in tandem, were resources actually infinite and the ecosphere infinitely forgiving, as the global corporate forces insist is the case, despite all rational evidence to the contrary. We continue to use up real resources faster than they can be replaced — and some of those resources, like fossil fuels, will stay used up.

Meanwhile, we are wrecking the seas and the atmosphere. If you can’t be bothered to consider the fate of the whales, think of your grandchildren. We’re either going to have to go small and local, or go extinct. Western civilization can either keep doing what it has been doing and die, or change and save the world. What’s good for General Motors is not good for the country. What’s good for General Electric is not good for the planet. We won’t get governments off our backs and out of our pockets until we get the corporations off our backs and out of our pockets. We’ve sold our souls to the corporate store. Before it’s too late, why don’t we buy them back?

Mike Corrigan’s net worth is in the low three figures, so there’s really no point in listening to him.

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