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June 7, 2014

Conservative Republicans regard the “free market” as a moral authority in itself, and that as such it should be free of outside interference by government or any other instrumentality in what they consider to be interference with their “economic freedom” to make money in business any way you can. Per Lakoff: “What progressives see as government protection (moral), conservatives see as government interference (immoral) that imposes restrictions on making profits. Regulations to protect consumers and workers limit profits; the civil justice system, which protects consumers, threatens profits in lawsuits; and taxation, which sustains our system of protection and empowerment, takes away profits. Conservatives rarely talk about government empowerment and act as if it does not exist – except in the case of corporate subsidies. Thus conservatives tend to be antiregulation, antiunion, against class action suits, and antitaxation.” The unimpeded pursuit of profit in a free market is thus a moral undertaking.
Conservatives rarely discuss how government empowers business (patent protection, road and bridges, power grids, education of their workforce, trade treaties and their enforcement, international military protection of their foreign interests, basic research etc.); they only want to talk about how government hamstrings business with its overregulation and overtaxation of their business activities. You don’t hear them thanking you and me who bought and paid for the interstate highway system upon which they can transport their goods, who bought and paid for the basic research giving rise to the internet, who bought expansion of the power grids that run their factories and offices and other such doles. Nearly all you hear from these internet zillionaires and other such business oligarchs (who made their fortunes only with the aid of you and me via government empowerment) is that their bonus-laden incomes are overtaxed (even though, as an example, Mitt Romney paid a tax on a 2010 income of 21.7 million dollars at a rate of 13.9%, a lesser rate than was paid by those who trimmed the hedges on his estates), and that their corporate taxes (with loopholes galore, accounting tricks and pretended “home offices” in Ireland and other such tax havens etc.) are taxed at confiscatory rates. Such me-me-me and total greed!
Given this prelude, I now conclude this series (as promised in Part IV) on brain trick framers and their oligarch sponsors by pointing out (per Lakoff) that they are perpetuating the myth that the deregulation or privatization of the moral mission of government eliminates government. It does not; government is not eliminated in this distribution of power in the marketplace; it is instead replaced by corporate governance via a shift from the public sector (where there is an ethic of protection and public accountability) to the private sector (where there is an ethic of profit and no public accountability). Thus deregulation and privatization do not eliminate government; they only make it unaccountable and take away its moral mission. Republican conservatives, of course, cannot admit this because it would fly in the face of their moral authority, i.e. “free market enterprise,” but if and when corporations become the governing authority, whose sole duty is to their shareholders, expect a remodeling of society a la 1984.
When we look back over the Lakoff-fueled commentaries in this essay, it is clear that it is government that has made the rich rich and thus politically powerful (aided and abetted by recent inane court decisions which equate money with speech etc.). It is equally clear that we are headed toward an abandonment of the Athenian democratic ideal of self-government in yielding our democracy to corporate oligarchy and its handmaiden framers and corrupters. Needed: Relief from myth along with a renewed sense of political and individual responsibility to America and our fellow citizens. Unneeded: Profit-driven corporations/ oligarchs who have no moral or even legal responsibility to join us. GERALD E


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