So, you want to march for “No Government” at you Tea Party? You think your freedom is at stake and you want “Government” out of your life. The truth is that you’re not connecting the dots to your dirty tea water. You should think it over.
The First Dot: the “No Government” culture. The George W. Bush Republican Administration held office with typical “Tea Party” mentality of “No Government.” Bush cut taxes for the rich, cut budgets for regulatory agencies and filled government management positions with like-minded, libertarian, Tea Party officials. A culture and attitude was set: stay out of businesses’ business; let the free market decide. The effect was that regulators, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Federal Drug Administration (FDA), and all the others, were put on a leash; they were discouraged and in some cases restricted from doing their job which was, in effect, to intrude in those businesses to see what they were doing and to punish businesses if they found illegal activity. The SEC was chartered to monitor financial markets, traders and speculators. Had they done their job, perhaps Bernie Madoff would have been stopped, saving billions for retirement plans. The FDA monitors drugs, foods and agriculture products. Had it done its job, perhaps the Mad-Cow disease would not have affected our Japan agriculture trade, saving billions of revenue for our farms and ranches. The EPA monitors adherence to Environmental laws, especially pollution laws. Had it done its job, perhaps millions of people would live longer with clean water for their Tea Pots. The Clean Water Act of 1972, enacted under a Republican President, and the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974, was intended to set national clean water policy for years.
But, while President Carter’s culture enforced the laws, Presidents Reagan and Bush I’s culture did not and President Clinton’s culture enforced it, but President Bush II did not. There is no consistent national policy from one president to the next. Now, President Obama is trying to correct President G. W. Bush’s neglect. These agencies were allowed to languish into a culture of “Hands off-No Government” intrusion because the Republican libertarian ideology believes businesses should be allowed to pretty much do what they please. In their view, for example, Environment Laws are obstructions to United States strength and growth rather than enhancements to its security and health. But, now we know the effect of hands-off.
The Second Dot; the no-government criminal neglect: This past Sunday, the New York Times devoted seven web pages to an article titled, “Toxic Waters: Clean Water Laws Neglected, at a Cost to Suffering.” This is an investigative report about government neglecting to enforce the law, environmental Clean Water and Safe Drinking Water law in this case. The report tells of obtaining a database that documents over 500,000 cases of criminal water pollution during the Bush Administration that was not prosecuted. The results are that water supplied to millions of homes for drinking and bathing is not suitable for even touching. The toxic water eats away tooth enamel, causes scabs and skin rashes, damages kidneys and nervous systems and causes cancer. The pollutants have no taste or scent, so you may be drinking polluted, toxic water without knowing it.
The Third Dot: what my family is drinking. One example, of many, in the article is the Friendly Acres Mobile Home Park in LaPorte, Indiana. For three years it flushed its toilets into a nearby river without the slightest notice from State or Federal authorities. Well, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, a Republican, was more concerned about lowering property taxes, taxes that could have paid for enforcement, but also could boost his popularity in the state for reelection if they were cut, succeeded in cutting the taxes. He, too, is a free-market libertarian out to make sure that Friendly Acres Mobile Home Park did not have to pay the expenses to clean up its pollution. Those expenses were passed on to county and city governments located along the river.
The river, it turns out, is eventually the Wabash River, the same river that passes through Lafayette, Indiana where my brother lives, and his children and grandchildren. It’s also the same river that passes along Gibson County’s border with Illinois where my nieces and nephews live, and their children and grandchildren. It was only one year ago that Jerry, my nephew-in-law, and I was talking about the ground water that supplies the water to his house. We talked about how the Wabash River, only three miles away, supplies the water through underground seeps and springs to his well that supplies the water he and my niece drink and bathe in.
Also along the Wabash, and only five miles from the homes of my niece and her brother, my nephew who works there, is a coal power plant that dumps sludge into an adjacent man-made lake, which, in turn, seeps toxic chemicals into the ground water that mixes with the Wabash. Those chemicals, too, eventually mix with the ground water for miles around and into my niece’s well water. The power plant has been polluting the Wabash water table for more than 25 years. The only recent fortunate thing about the power plant is that Duke Energy bought the plant, and Duke Energy management is one of the leading advocates of renewable power on the East Coast, if it can only get local and federal level politicians to change their collective will to support long-term renewable energy policies and incentives, such as tax incentives on renewable energy while taxing dirty energy. But, we have Tea Parties instead, so a collective sustainable will is unlikely.
The Fourth Dot: my family’s health. I don’t know how pollution has specifically affected my family’s health, but hands-off-no-government is not improving it. Hands-on-good-government would improve it with clean water, clean air, clean energy and health care reform that make staying healthy affordable and accountable government would hold businesses accountable for their criminal pollution. My advice to my brother in Lafayette, and my niece and nephew in Gibson County is to check the filters on your water line to make sure you’re getting clean water, or at least as clean as possible. Meanwhile, stay away from Tea Parties – they are not helping you. They are deceiving you – their Tea Water is filthy.