Thursday, September 24, 2009

When Government Is Gone

What If It's Privatna Enterprise?
y morning blat tells me that Mikhail Prokhorov, one of the richest and tallest men in Russia, is dickering to buy the New Jersey Nets. Nintendo and one of its Japanese execs already own the Seattle Mariners, and the Chinese have a chunk of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Rich Russkies are the new Steinbrenners of British soccer.
So what does this have to do with the yahoos who’ve taken to the streets to slag Obama and big government as the mother of all their miseries?
The basic notion of American conservatism is that private does just about everything better, and certainly more profitably, than public. America won’t become a truly free and prosperous nation, intones hard right strategist Grover Norquist, until we shrink government to the size of a baby and drown it in the bath tub.
Being a proudly provincial and putatively patriotic bunch, the righties assume that when this happy day arrives, the private interests that subsume the public weal will be flying the stars and stripes over their corporate HQs and speaking English in their boardrooms. That's not necessarily so.
Like the town meeting harpy who told the tv that she didn’t want socialism “like in Russia” only 20 years after that country had turned capitalist, the American right has apparently missed globalization and the vast run-up in foreign debt that feeds this current economic mess. No doubt they’ve been in church rehearsing for the rapture.
Forbes tells me that foreign corporate investment in the U.S. jumped 88 percent between 2005 and 2007 and now totals well over $200 billion. And that’s a mere tear drop in that bath tub compared to the Treasury and corporate paper held by folks whose passports Rush Limbaugh would have trouble reading.
Wouldn’t it be fun if the right wingers got their wish so that the government disappeared and they woke up one morning to find Russian, Saudi, Chinese, Iraqi and, ugh, even French corporate honchos running the show instead of the Old Glory waving and hot dog eating politicos who now populate the Potomac?
Such a takeover is not likely soon. There’s still plenty of juice in American capitalism, even if it’s leaking out at a ferocious rate. And even if foreign economic dominance did transpire, the nominally nationalist knuckleheads of the right would quickly adjust.
We learned that a couple of decades back when Japanese automakers began opening assembly plants in Dear Old Dixie. One would have assumed that the region’s reputation for conservatism, racism and rebelliousness promised trouble for companies owned by the progeny of those who sucker punched us at Pearl Harbor and were depicted all through World War II in viciously racist propaganda.
But no. Toyota, Honda and Nissan managers praised their southern workers as among the most docile and obedient in their multinational operations. Though paid far below what UAW workers get, they’ve yet to say yes to union, let alone to strike. They’re happy with whatever papa san doles out.
Southerners know how to save their race baits and rebel yells for the weekends. Weekdays, they're pleased to perform for anyone who pays them regardless of provenance or pigmentation. Like other Americans, they supplicate in the presence of spondulicks. So I wouldn’t sweat the transformation of the Nets into the Nyets. The fans will just shout Da! instead of Rah!

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