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Guest column | James Pettican

Governing as a business doesn't work

The first election I paid attention to was Franklin Roosevelt's win in 1932. I was 12 then and have been watching or covering them ever since. Now at the geezer stage, I just watch.

They're always there though — the monster and the sacred cow. Politicians, especially Republicans, know that too and are always there to join in the battle over the two. The sacred cow, of course is free enterprise capitalism and all that it entails. The bad guy monster, of course — should I dare to say the word? — is socialism. Republicans glory in denouncing it and Democrats usually don't bring it up.

This year, the usual defenders are in the ring to defend the sacred cow. In Florida, they include Marco Rubio who, when not the enjoying the largesse of party credit cards, is running for the U.S. Senate and Rick Scott, who considers himself the ultimate capitalist and has his former company's gigantic Medicare fraud conviction to prove it. These two knights of the sacred cow are warning us all that the monster's hot breath may be closer than we think and by the time we notice, it might already be too late.

Their opponents don't seem to see or notice the monster's evil ways but it's not something you talk about in political campaigns so they don't.

The two knights show their love for the sacred cow in many ways but above all, they insist on the freedom of their favorite bovine. There must be no regulations restricting its actions and movements and, above all, a widespread understanding of how lucky we are to have all this corporate might and money around us.

Great corporate lovers of the past include Florida's Jeb Bush who never saw a corporation he couldn't fall in love with and never saw a government he didn't want to shrink. Now, in the years following his reign, we have turned his name, a noun, into a verb as we realize the state has been "jebbed."

Corporations are a source of both love and lucre and the lobbyists ensure that the latter is liberally provided in return for a little love now and then.

This time around, it's Rubio who is sounding the loudest alarm about the socialism monster. Rubio, although he is sophisticated in a Tallahassee way, doesn't seem to understand that the monster is already here and has been for years. It sees to it that we get our Social Security payments each month, that Medicare does what its name implies and that our snail mail continues to reach our mailboxes every day.

Among many other things, it also detects and prevents corporate offerings like lead paint on playpens and nasty additions to our food supply as well as price-fixing brought about by corporate monopolies. So, maybe the monster isn't so bad at that. After all, when capitalism gets in trouble, as was recently the case, the kindly old monster bails it out but never gets much credit for it.

Oh well, someday we'll learn but on the other hand, we can't afford a trip to Scandinavia for everyone. Nice idea though.

Retired journalist James Pettican lives in Palm Harbor.

Governing as a business doesn't work 10/02/10 [Last modified: Saturday, October 2, 2010 1:28pm]
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