Monday, November 28, 2011


Big is broken. Big cars eat gas. Big waistlines are deadly. Big bankers have bloated egos. There is a move afoot to shun big box retailers in favor of small shops. Even long sentences are yesterday.

In predatory waters big barracuda gulp guppies. Unchecked, multinationals swallow their competition; it is the way of monopoly capitalism.

If we look at recent troubled areas we see ungodly behavior in Catholic churches, molestation in university athletic programs, campus police abusing their authority, a dysfunctional Congress, errant drones from our military and excess on Wall St. The common denominator is the unaccountable practices of large, insular institutions.

Big government has long been the bogeyman of Conservatives, as if bigness in every other power base if perfectly acceptable. I would argue that all these centers of power and privilege have grown exponentially with hierarchies answerable to no one.

The Vatican protects its own under the eyes of saints in stained glass. The Penn. State football program brings in over 70 million dollars annually and was deemed too sacred to be meddled with. The trouble in Happy Valley, PA was a case of academia gone amok; incompetence layered over with secrecy. The incident in Davis was also a function of mismanagement and stupidity. The response of uniformed officers to the occupiers has brought out peppered police in contrast to the passive resistance of those assembled.

Health insurance companies along with Big Pharma are granted all the decision-making prerogatives regarding premiums, exclusions, co-pays, deductibles, fee schedules and availability of medications. Their unconscionable practices entitle them to write legislation via lobbyists, buying off the Congressional watchdogs.

Is it bigness, alone, that breeds such ill winds? We live in a power-based society in which self-serving policies and corruption multiply, without constraints. Any organization too big to fail, has already failed in its public trust and lost its moral center. The model for abuse in government occurred under Nixon’s imperial presidency with its nefarious plots, enemy lists and arrogance.

Democracy is a messy process. Sometimes I lose my faith in the electorate as they choose representatives least likely to serve the public good. However the American people are still the best hope. We need to demand transparency of our institutions as they drift behind closed doors. It is yet another argument for regulation and oversight.

The Tea Party, with all its mindless racism and misplaced animus against social programs, remains viable because it struck a chord in the heartland. Their anger has largely been subverted into far Right conservatism but the Populism that militates against big banks and mortgage companies still prevails and rightly so. To that extent they can shake hands with the the occupiers.

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