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How to Make a 600-Pound Gorilla Float like a Butterfly

Robin Alexander

Posted on December 15, 2017 09:42

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The issues are always presented in two sides: Big Business versus Big Government. It reminds me of my childhood.

Take net neutrality. The two sides are presented as a familiar pair of opponents. In this corner we have Big Government, and in the other we have Big Business. Note the characterization. In a recent podcast on the subject I heard: "Do you want the internet run by the heavy hand of government?" (invoking a 600-pound gorilla lying on your chest), OR do you want it run by "free enterprise?" (invoking fairy dust floating on soft breezes – after all it contains the word free – like butterflies). As with all issues, net neutrality is played out against this typically American duality, in a typically maddening way. It reminds me of my childhood.

This tug-of-war has been built into the fabric of American politics for I don’t know how long, but by the time the Baby Boomers showed up it was part of the pasteurized-homogenized milk we were fed. We heard it so often it took on the status of a mantra (read, indoctrination). The gorilla conjures up visions of government workers pushing mounds of paper and taking two-hour lunches, with five supervisors for every four clerks, and bureaucratic hand-tying that won’t let you put a deck in your backyard.

Free enterprise conjures up innovation, entrepreneurship, and the sweet smell of capitalism. This is the polarization that overtook us as the country was emerging from WWII as the new empire on the block (read, "world"), as big business was ramping up its battle to gut the New Deal (read, "lowering corporate taxes" and more), as the Cold War communist bogeyman was emerging as the ultimate big government threat, as that threat was conveniently feeding the House Un-American Activities Committee and even more to the point, as that threat was profiting the military-industrial complex. Do you get the picture?

The interesting thing is that the Communist bogeyman was such a potently scary threat, it turned even Depression-era/WWII vets, some of whom had taken advantage of the GI Bill (my parents), into opponents of big government and eventual supporters of Richard Nixon (who actually passed a landmark environmental regulation (establishment of the EPA, 1970 – go figure).

The Baby Boomers who didn’t go to Vietnam rebelled vehemently, but largely returned to conventional life while wearing pearls to work in corporate America – which is partly why the party that used to represent a strong centralized government dedicated to serving "the people" (read, "Democrats") has pretty much completed its slide down a slope. That party is now firmly aligned with predatory capitalists, just like the other one (read "Republicans"), and therefore remains fairly silent on lots of important subjects, and if not silent – fairly mediocre, and if not mediocre – completely untrustworthy.

Therefore, since that party won’t do it and since tradition says I must choose, I temporarily embrace the dichotomy of my childhood and make a case for big government and its regulations (with a caveat of course).  

[More to come on how it should work.]

Robin Alexander

Posted on December 15, 2017 09:42

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Source: TechCrunch
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