Big Government Republicans
I always thought of my father as a reasonably successful businessman, but he characterized himself, and those of us in the small business world, as “goons.”
I remember this term feeling slightly at odds with the life he had built for us: he employed all of his children in the family business at one time or another. While he never really indulged himself, for a child of the Great Depression he knew that life needed to be enjoyed as well. Whenever he took his sons off to the Midwest for the great Chicago Housewares Show, he put us up at the posh Palmer House. He once treated us to a vacation in Acapulco, donated by a wealthy entrepreneur who benefited from Dad’s sales expertise. I certainly didn’t feel like the child of a goon. We had a beautiful home in Arcadia, and Dad purchased so much land, in fact, that I’m living on some of it right now.
But nice suits or not, four star hotel or not, if he were here today, he would smile and acknowledge a simple reality about life’s hierarchy: there are different rules for the really big players. If you have corporate offices in New York, Paris, Dubai, and Sidney, and if you have company people who are regularly meeting with policy makers, you are not a “goon.”
Otherwise, let’s face it: you are a peasant, perhaps a prosperous yeoman, but compared to the folks at the top: a goon. You have to live by the rules, pay the fees, and bow to the duke. You’re not one of those guys who get to drop a girl in the river and wait until the next morning to report it.
Now, for those of us who have actually read Adam Smith, for those of us who know that small business employs 80% of America there is a pleasant fiction we are taught to indulge from the time we are small children, and here it is: The Republican party represents us. They know the value of hard work, low taxes, and reduced regulation. They recognize the power of incentive, and the collective good that flows from allowing the market to reward those who work hard and provide a product America needs.
Unfortunately, very hardened, practical, non-ideological businessmen know the story isn’t quite that simple. If you can tax the peasants at the right level, without actually killing them, the money will be concentrated in the hands of a few purchasing agents, and, instead of having to persuade a million, voluntary consumers, you can now handle it in just a few sales calls — at a posh federal office.
We’re all silly, for example, to believe the private health care industry opposed Obamacare. Picture yourself as an executive at a major health care company and suddenly everyone is FORCED to purchase a policy — a big expensive policy that will allow for 40 million new customers? C’mon — put the Adam Smith down for a minute and enjoy some grub!
The Democrats can proudly portray themselves as the guys who will steal private property, without apology, so as to hand out the goodies, but the GOP always ends up looking a little silly, because they have to pretend they oppose this. They have to appear as though they want less regulation and lower taxes, but — in fact — if the regulation ends up helping some big corporate donors smother the little guy who can’t afford a compliance officer, and if the federal revenues can be funneled to the right businessmen, hey, well, that’s not so bad. Even the political money gets concentrated and it’s easier to please a few huge corporate donors than all those messy, Jeffersonian lemon-aid stand owners.
The truth is: we’re all hooked into that federal and state monstrosity we’ve built. Your uncle has a federal pension. Your sister is on food stamps. Your brother sells to the school district. Your very sharp MBA son works for a company trying to get a federal contract.
We need to have an intervention. We need to get to a 12 step program and start weaning ourselves from the collective piracy. And we need to understand that neither of the parties represent us. There are a number of great Republicans, but they need, at the very least, to wage war against the fascist hypocrites in the party.
Ray Riley would agree: The hard working goons of the world need to unite.