Do you like clean air? How about clean water? I’m kind of fond of them myself.
Some places don’t have clean air. We can wonder why not. Take Kolkata, India. Their air is so bad that people don’t even want to go out. Children literally struggle to breathe at night, and lots are taken to the hospital. It’s truly awful.
There are several reasons for this disaster. Farmers burn the residue from their crops, which causes a lot of smoke. Cooking fires make smoke. Old cars make smoke. Thermal inversion parks it all at ground level. All that is needed is for people to control these things. Why don’t they just do it?
Clean water is nice too. Ever see what passes for water in some parts of the world. Somewhere under all the plastic and oil and feces and so on, there is a stream of water. It stinks something terrible. Why don’t they take care of the plastic, oil, feces, and other stuff?
Do you like to go to the doctor when you are so sick you can’t stand it? The doctor would be able to tell what’s wrong and what to do about it. What about a really bad diagnosis? Cancer, which everybody is afraid of. So why don’t you just go to the doctor?
How about education? Should it be sold, like a custom bicycle, or a $5,000 coffee maker? Or should it be available to everyone?
I don’t think it’s a big secret that we would all like to have these things and more. I think everyone deserves them. They are all very ordinary, and we don’t pay much attention to them. But they are like bodily functions: you don’t worry about bodily functions much—until one of them malfunctions.
Astute readers like you will realize that the connecting element in all these things is government. The much hated Big Government. Isn’t it odd that we small creatures must rely on Big Government? If everyone is to have affordable health care Big Government will have to require it. If you want these things, Big Government will have to pass laws to protect them: clean air and water, medical care, schools, and more. If you personally decide to clean up the water it won’t be enough. Unless laws compel behavior change, it won’t change. Car seat belts weren’t installed until it was compulsory, long after we knew they were needed. Detroit objected.
If you have been to places overseas where the air is not protected, you know how your eyes burn, and you can imagine what your lungs look like. You know that only carefully constructed laws can make air clean for everyone. And there must be no loopholes that allow corporations to continue polluting as they have.
Here’s a timeless rule I just invented: All the truly significant elements of good life for everyone must involve Big Government. Significant elements don’t include stuff like widescreen TV.
What else does this say. It says that Republican focus on the uncontrolled free market is guaranteed disaster, because no corporation will participate in making things right unless they are forced to. Republican focus on the so-called free market (which is not free at all) can’t avoid hurting everyone who needs things like clean air and water, education, and sensible medical care.
What happens when the things that everyone needs becomes privatized? First, the overall effect is to worsen conditions in general. Corporations will not give care to something like clean water because it does not contribute to profit. The more schools become privatized, the worse the public schools will become; fewer children will have a good education.
There are lots of things better achieved by the free market. Justice isn’t one of them either. Nothing is, where individuals must battle corporations for essentials. Only when the whole government is involved can we preserve the things that are important to everyone. Prove it to yourself by looking at places where government is weak.