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What we are going to talk about today is the importance of government power. Since the beginning of history government is the means by which people live together. Sometimes when it goes wrong it's the way in which people die together. Government per se has no morality. It can be whatever people want it to be. So an overall system of ethics is important. However government itself is an essential part of society. It is an essential factor in human events.
ANTI-GOVERNMENT DELUSIONS IN AMERICA
Unfortunately in America we have come to have a delusion about government. An American President, Ronald Reagan, claimed that government was the problem. Think through how crazy that is. Government is the problem? So who will make the decisions in society? TV evangelists? Big business? You fill in the blanks.
THE NECESSITY OF GOVERNMENT TO MAKE DECISIONS IN SOCIETY
Since Reagan we have had the control of a lot of decisions in America made by big business or by political crackpots who don't believe in science. The results have not been of the good variety. The money lords on Wall Street did not create the utopia. Quite the contrary they concluded that they could make increased profits by destroying jobs here in America and shipping them overseas to foreign dictatorships such as China and this is what they proceeded to do. The trade deficit this year with China is about 400 billion. Mr. Trump has talked about dealing with this and has done a lot of yelling and screaming but he has had no impact by the way on the actual trade deficit.
THE WORLD LOST AFTER REAGAN
Meanwhile, when Reagan came in, he destroyed the largest and most sophisticated renewable energy research program in the world. We could have solar power. Today we would have commercial solar power. Today people would be driving solar cars. The air over the super cities of the Third World would be clear rather than being filled with poison. So it's important to understand what we lost by this kind of thinking.
A CONTINUATION OF ANTI-GOVERNMENT POLICY UNDER CLINTON AND OBAMA
Now in 1992, the American people thought they were going in a different direction and elected Bill Clinton. Bill Clinton unfortunately went along with a lot of this Reagan nonsense and claimed in 1995 in one of the most insane and shameful statements in the history of American politics, "That the age of big government was 'dead.'"
Again we have to ask, "If big government is dead, whose who's making the big decisions?"
Under Clinton and under Obama it was a rerun of what happened under Reagan and Bush where the big corporations continue to shut down plants in the United States and shipped jobs overseas while not investing in safe renewable energy. So this did not have happy results.
INSANITY IN 2020
Now in 2020 we have a situation in America that is just getting weirder and weirder and more out of a bad 1 o'clock in the morning sci-fi. One of the reasons for this goes back to the underinvestment in government. You get what you pay for. Since Reagan a good part of discretionary non-defense spending has been cut to shreds. That's why when you call the IRS you may have to wait for an hour before you get anybody on the phone. It's why the IRS computers are still to a large extent the legacy of the 1960s. This is why when you call Medicare or Social Security you get a one hour wait.
THE DISRESPECT FOR CIVIL SERVICE
But worse than the budget cuts has been the disrespect for the civil service, the disrespect for having excellence in government. So if you disrespect people making key decisions they probably aren't going to stay around. So it's not just the money. These 40 years of insane and destructive programs have severely damaged the talent pool in the civil service. Now it matters whether we have intelligent people inspecting the health and safety of food. It matters whether we have intelligent people running Medicare and Medicaid and making sure that they run right and most important evaluating these programs as time goes along to fine-tune them and make them better. Now this has been a total train wreck. The underpayment of hospitals for example by Medicare and Medicaid is estimated to be about $60 billion in the last couple of years and this goes back to Obama going along with Republican plans to slash the hell out of government even further. Obama went along with slashing the hell out of the EPA budget even though it had already been slashed to hell previously.
THE INSANITY OF ELECTIONS IN AMERICA
So all this matters and in the case of elections we have not invested in the quality of electoral resources such as computers and such as an biometric national ID cards. We know some of our progressive friends don't like that. We strongly favor it. But all this could've been done in the case of elections. For example, it's not just a question of money. Every other modern state has either a national holiday or weekends for elections in America. There are endless obstacles put up by not having election day to be a holiday to having working people vote. In our view this is not an accident. This is the desire of the money lords at the top of the system. There are certainly exceptional factions factors such as the questionable mental health of the current president but there's also a factor of the underinvestment in government, the underinvestment in electoral law, government resources and so on and so forth.
RESEARCH OF FUTURE TECHNOLOGIES
Now on looking forward, these things need to be reversed. Let's just go over a couple of very important things. In terms of research for the future in technology. Sorry folks, the key issue here is not whether there was an eccentric genius in a garage. No, we don't deny there are eccentric geniuses in garages. We're not opposed to that, okay? But big steps forward in research more often than not are funded by huge government research programs. Frequently war leads to these technology developments because huge amounts of money are spent. But here's the way it works. Consider a private corporation. There may be 100 variables to solve a problem, to research a problem you may need to fund all 100 variables to find the the right solution. The private corporation may fund three. That's why government research is absolutely essential. It's absolutely essential and the destruction of America's renewable energy program in 1981 by Reagan has to be one of the greatest disasters in American history. But there has been further problems going further back. In 1953, the national Security Council called for a major renewable energy research program so the United States could be energy independent.
KEY WORKS OF AMERICAN INFRASTRUCTURE HAVE BEEN BACKED BY THE GOVERNMENT
Here's the problem. That didn't have the backing of big economic interest. Now let's take an alternative action of government investment. The highway trust fund, the building the interstate highway system and the neglect of railroads. Now pay that had a lot of backing. The oil industry loved that. The car industry loved that. The construction industry loved that and they applied the political investment to make it happen so there's nothing stupider than and more fraudulent than the claim of so many conservative politicians that we can't have government play winners and losers. Government has been playing winners and losers since this country was founded. The Erie Canal was built with government money. The intercontinental railroads were built with huge subsidies and so on and so forth.
THE NEED FOR STATE POWER TO BE A PRIORITY
In the case of energy there there been further past neglect. The 1950s for example. In the 1960s, John F. Kennedy came up with the idea of going to the moon. in our view a a very low priority item and and billions upon billions were spent going to the moon. Money could've been spent on renewable energy but it was not. So government matters. That's how we change things. If you don't, you're not going to deal with poverty and issues like that without issues such as national health insurance. Now you need intelligent people designing those programs. You need to make government service the apex the top of society the thing that's most respected where people are paid and rewarded for excellent service and we might say punished for incompetent service.
But you can't get anywhere if you don't make it a priority.
AMERICA'S WACKY POLITICAL TRANSITION SYSTEM
We will also discuss the idiotic transition system in American politics. In Europe and in saner societies when you have a change in government, you have a change of a very small number of people at the top and the various ministries the civil service want to keep on functioning. In America you have this ludicrous political system where the entire top of agencies are decapitated and agencies are frequently in a state of chaos for two years until they finally fill all the positions. This is again a guarantee for failure a study in total and complete insanity.
In conclusion this has just been a real failure of moral leadership and common sense leadership on the part of the Democratic Party. Things took a real wrong turn under Reagan. We're not saying everything Reagan did was bad to make that clear but in terms of having respect for government funding, government and and making government work, and making government work in a high-quality manner. That was a disastrous wrong turn.
When Clinton came in, there was an opportunity for a teachable moment, for moral leadership to point out that government did matter and and if there was a betrayal there was a betrayal under Obama. There was also an opportunity but Obama ended up going along with with Republican plans to gut the government.We understand that President Obama did not want to do a lot of the stuff that he did. He was bullied into it by lunatics such as Paul Ryan and so on. We don't begrudge that. We do begrudge the fact that Obama (while he might've been forced to sign various things) did not condemn the budget cuts that were put through, which were totally disastrous.
In issue after issue things are in terrible shape. The EPA budget in constant dollars is a pale shadow of what it was back in 1980.
GOVERNMENT IS THE MEANS BY WHICH SOCIETY MAKES DECISIONS
So there are consequences for all this and as we move forward there are few things more important than elevating public service and recognizing government for the vital role that it is. It seems like an idiotically obvious point we would have to make, but government is how we make decisions in society. The government, if you look at Plato, or any of the great philosophers, government is the means by which the community makes decisions. Unfortunately under Clinton there came to be this false dichotomy that community was local, community groups and stuff like that, we're not against local community groups, (you always have to be careful in how you discuss all this), but the political philosophers of the world saw government as the solution. It's absolutely necessary.
THE POWER OF THE STATE
The real title of Plato's political tretise was not "The Republic." That's not even a Greek word. It's a Roman word. It was "The State." The power of the state. And that is how people have made decisions throughout history. That's how you will reverse poverty, clean up the environment and so on and so forth.
A further issue that we just might also mention is the diluted role of the church and so on. So many conservatives may say, "Well when we had the church helping the poor that was all great really." You guys really want to go back to the Dark Ages where people were burned at the stake and so on and so forth? Is that a real solution? We think not. But insofar as you want to use that argument, you must remember that was a case of state churches. You pay the tax to the church. Sure there were voluntary fundraising campaigns which got very abused, such as the sale of indulgences that led to the Reformation in Germany and throughout Europe, but in these situations the church was part of the state. That's a very important point.
So we come back again and again to the issue of the state. The excellence in state power. High moral standards in state power are an essential goal, and assuming Biden comes in, he has few greater responsibilities than to educate people and to be a moral voice for the importance of responsible government leadership.