Friday, April 15, 2011

Just the facts: Or, reality vs. fantasy

Tea Baggers and the GOP fanned fantastic fears about death panels and the destruction of Medicare to campaign against the Affordable Health Care Act of 2010 (Obamacare). But look what's really happening in 2011. Arizona's Republican governor and Republican state legislature have issued death sentences to patients awaiting promised transplants in that state.

Two people have already died because of Republican sponsored cuts to Arizona's health care budget.

And at this very moment the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives is voting on a Republican proposed budget for next year which would end Medicare as we know it for senior citizens of the future.

But alas, just in time to prevent such facts from startling Tea Party minions and other mesmerized Americans into a survival-oriented state of alertness, we have on Tax Day the celebrated premiere of a movie version of Ayn Rand's free market fantasy novel, Atlas Shrugged. Not unexpectedly, Forbes blogger Matt Kibbe opines that the new film is a movie made for Tea Partisans.

And indeed it is. Was it Karl Marx who said 'religion is the opiate of the masses?' Then Ayn Rand must be the methamphetamine of free marketeers. And Atlas Shrugged with its scribbled mantra of "Who is John Galt?" is a fantastical diatribe against any governmental regulation of free enterprise.

Ayn Rand's worshipful followers include Chicago School economist and Nobel prize winner Milton Friedman (now deceased} and recently retired chairman of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan.

Friedman may have won a Nobel prize but he also joined up with the bloody Chilean dictator Gen. Auguste Pinochet to "repair" the Chilean economy after the overthrow of its democratically elected Marxist president Allende. All this while Pinochet and his henchmen were torturing and "disappearing" thousands of Chilean citizens. As recently as last year's Chilean earthquake, misguided free market devotees were blindly praising Friedman's beneficial influence in Chile.

Greenspan, another influential economist who fell under Rand's spell, facilitated the housing bubble and its subsequent catastrophic failure by keeping interest rates artificially low and refusing a la Rand to consider investigating and/or regulating the sub prime mortage industry.
The dreamy retired Fed chairman nonchalantly admits in his recent memoir his surprise at the failure of free market principles in the recent financial meltdown.

As early as 2005, clear-eyed critics were describing Greenspan's malpractice to an unreceptive audience.

But we have two far more frightening real-life disasters with far-reaching and long-lasting results to illustrate the absurdity of Rand's fantasy about the evils of government regulation: the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the Chernobyl-like nuclear disaster in Japan. Both of these devastating accidents would have been prevented by strict and appropriate government regulation of private enterprise. Both Tokyo Energy and BP were given a relatively free-hand by government regulators with devastating consequences for local populations and indeed the world.

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