The Problem With “Public”

Two hundred-plus years of dangerously liberal thinking have created a good deal of confusion in some weak minds. One of the most damaging of these confusions, one that you may still be harboring without realizing its deep and divisive nature, is the idea that there are such things as “public” facilities. Or, indeed, a “public good”. In fact, the very word “public” arises from a severe misunderstanding of what forms a “society”.

You see, the Founding Fathers began the confusion by using phrase like “commonwealth”, “equality”, and “nation”. It wasn’t their fault, of course. In those early days they had little understanding of the true nature of “society” as a mechanism for increasing corporate power and profits. They were then still laboring under the delusion that “democracy”, at least representative democracy, was meant to include everyone who owned property, even if all they owned was a few hard-scrabble acres on the edge of nowhere.

We are far more sophisticated now, and we know that only very large, very powerful property owners (ie, corporations) matter and that “democracy” was not a goal but a mistake that wasted valuable time and resources following a dead-end path to nowhere anybody rich wanted to be, a dangerous path that allowed decisions to be made on the basis of people’s needs rather than corporate requirements, thus threatening the end of life as we know it. There is no more frightening phrase than “Power to the People” but thankfully we’ve all been forced to surrender that nightmare.

We are now living in a more suitable and effective “society” where the “government” has been bought by corporate $$ and its decisions reflect corporate desires. The idea that a public exists, never mind that it has “needs” which must be taken into consideration, has gone pffft as it should and every ex-“public” function should now be looked at for its profit potential.

This transition has already begun. Our corporate-annexed Congress has successfully engineered the tax system to squeeze out all tax $$ aimed at “public” facilities, forcing them to privatize or die. National parks charge entrance fees, education costs have skyrocketed due to the loss of their tax base, forcing corporate partnerships (and the attendant control demanded by corporate “sponsors”), libraries are charging “use” fees, and local fire departments are refusing to put out fires on property whose owners haven’t paid their new Public Safety Tax. Soon police will be openly charging fees to investigate crimes and ignoring those which occur to the indigent, though this will be more a nuanced alteration than an actual change of behavior.

New frontiers are being established as well. For example, the concept of “public space” is being erased by an onslaught of advertising everywhere there is a bare wall or tree that can support a sign. Streets are little more than billboards even in smallish towns, and sound trucks roam as freely as deer once did. Local governments, spurred by local businesses, have begun to forbid “public assembly” much as the British used to in Colonial days. Spurred by low tax collections and the pervasive myth that private corporations do things cheaper (they don’t, of course, since they have to make a profit and govt-run services don’t), public parks are being sold off to private vendors, along with toll roads and services such as garbage collection and street cleaning.

To complete this transition merely requires eliminating the concept of “public” anything from the consciousness of the citizenry and replacing it with a cult of $$ worship. Fortunately, our best propagandists are working on this. Check Fox any day of the week.

3 responses to “The Problem With “Public”

  1. I think people are finally getting mad. I left a snarky comment at Charlie Pierce’s on his post about Ryan as Romney’s pic, and when I checked back a few hours later I had 54 likes!

    Once the reality of this drought settles in and food prices start spiking, more people are going to learn that what’s wrong with this country has nothing to do with libruls, and everything to do with “conservative” values that reward paper pushers on Wall Street.

    • I appreciate your singing that old song, “We’re Finally Gettin’ It!” I’ve sung it myself from time to time. The trouble is that the outrage comes but then it just goes again and everybody just sighs and accepts the situation as inevitable. Remember the Good Old Days when Occupy Wall Street had us thinking the revolution was just around the corner? Great, weren’t they? The song should be re-written to “We Act Like We’re Gettin’ It But We really Don’t Get It At All.”

  2. Even Republican office holders are breaking out the ten-foot sticks now that Romney’s gone with the Ayn Rand worshipper.

    Yes, Obama’s still the pits, but Romney-Ryan is strictly from pit shit.

    Arkansas will have medical marijuana on the ballot this fall. Arkansas.

    We’re winning, however incrementally, and never forget — once the revolution is over, we get to shoot the socialists (who, according to the right, are the O’centrists so yes, that works for me).

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