The Republican party that’s in control of the Federal Government is stuck in Grover Norquist’s paradigm – that he famously wanted to shrink Government to be small enough to drag into the bathroom and drown in a baththub. What a violent fantasy that is! Yesterday the US Environmental Protection Agency announced it was implementing the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule, a rules change with an Orwellian name whose purpose is to eliminate the Obama-era tighter CAFE standards. In the exact same time there is a world-wide crisis dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, and the US Federal Government has been hamstrung because the Trump Administration purposely fired a bunch of folks at the NIH and CDC who were charged with preparing for Pandemics.
In general – if the Trump Administration has been successful at anything – Pres. Trump keeps claiming that no Administration has done as much as his – the thing they have been doing is gutting the Government, eliminating all kinds of regulations and programs that were helping the USA population have better lives.
And the result is that the USA’s response to the COVID-19 crisis was to first deny it as a hoax, then to leave the response to the states, to create an “every man for themself” sort of response with States bidding against each other for supplies and some states just ignoring the problem. Biology is biology and doesn’t care about whether you believe this is a hoax, whether you have an R or a D after your name, and doesn’t care if you’re an Evangelical Christian or a Pastafarian.
Similarly, the environment is the environment. Increased air pollution levels don’t care about individual freedoms, because the planet will respond to increased pollution with an ever-hotter climate and rising sea levels and your body will respond to toxic air and water by getting sick.
There is a connection between between these two stories: a) the EPA eliminating fuel efficiency standards; and b) the failure to have a reasonable COVID-19 response. In both cases the result is due to the ideology that Government is the Problem.
For your edification let me offer the following dialog from this morning on Morning Joe. This TV program is led by Joe Scarborough, a former US Congressman who describes himself as a “Small Government Conservative”. He claims to have been warning Conservatives for years against slashing the parts of Government that actually help people.
The main thrust of this clip comes from Mike Barnicle, one of the Morning Joe regulars, who gives a stunning defense of the role of Government in helping people. As he says, it is Government that comes down the street to put out the fire in your house, and it is Government that delivers aid in a crisis like COVID-19.
My read of the US Constitution is that in the Preamble, where it says “to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity“, that it calls for an active Government that works to implement all those things.
That is not a government one should be drowning in a bathtub.
That government should be implementing clean air standards, clean water standards, have strong government oversight of businesses and the financial markets, it should be researching all kinds of potential ills and dangers, and the potential solutions to those ills, and more.
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