Friday, June 13, 2008

We Are Lucky

The value of luck in preserving the basic fundamentals of our system of government is the topic under consideration. We have several older Supreme court Justices who have been part of a consistent majority in defending basic principles laid down by our constitution as well as prior Supreme Court decisions. The most oft-discussed decision is, of course, Roe v Wade, which created the right (based on privacy considerations) of the individual woman in our society to make up her own mind as to whether or not she wished to continue an unwanted pregnancy.

The new conservative direction taken by the current Court occurred because of the appointments of Roberts and Alito by He Who Would Be King. Both men have turned out to be the extremists that pseudo-conservatives were hoping for and they join Scalia and Thomas in creating a solid group of four whose main bent seems to be trying to revert the country back to the era of Teddy Roosevelt. For those of you who have read Upton Sinclair's 'The Jungle' the Roosevelt era was before regulatory actions took hold to offset and control corporate actions where were downright harmful to human health. Sinclair, along with a couple of other writers, were called the muckrakers for writing about corporate shenanigans that, once revealed, led to regulatory actions (such as the creation of the FDA by Congressional action). Most simply put the pseudo-conservatives seek to eliminate such regulatory efforts maintaining that corporations will be good citizens and police themselves simply because it makes good business sense to do so. The best thinkers in this bunch, the late Milton Friedman as an example, called for the abolition of the Food and Drug Administration. It was unnecessary, he argued: private companies would avoid taking risks with public health to safeguard their reputations and to avoid damaging class-action lawsuits. Friedman viewed lawyers as the guardians of free-market capitalism. In other words, the main tenet of the classic neo-conservatives was that corporate America should be held accountable via the medium of the lawsuit. Instead, what we have now is a Supreme Court hell bent on destroying any accountability whatsoever by eliminating lawsuits and granting immunity to corporations on the phony basis that accountablility is preempted by the federal governments regulatory framework. That is, for example, the FDA (which has been gutted by inadequate funding) is charged with regulation of food,drugs and medical devices and because of such statutory authority, there is no right of an individual citizen to maintain a lawsuit against a drug company. The same thinking has been applied de facto by He Who Would Be to all areas of industry during his tenure by simply failing to aadequately fund these agencies so that they can function properly. The thinking process behind this charade, whether applied by He Who Would Be or the Supreme Court's mighty four is phony and is the reason that I avoid the term 'neo-conservative' and replace it with 'pseudo-conservative'.

Now let's get to the value of luck. We, the citizens of these United States, have been lucky that none of our current elderly Supreme Court Justices have died or retired such as to give bush the opportunity to add a fifth or sixth Justice to the Court. Just imagine what shape the country would be in if the Supreme Court had done what these people want to do. We are lucky that misfortune or fate has not dealt these distinguished jurists an earlier departure for now we can anticipate that future selections will result in appointments more in keeping with the demands and needs of everyone in our society, not just those at the top of the financial chain.

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