I watched a movie the other night called “Wild River,” starring Montgomery Clift and Lee Remick, the story about an elderly women who steadfastly refused to sell her property, an island, to the federal government, so a dam could be built by the Tennessee Valley Authority.
She had her sympathizers. It was easy to see her point. However, it was easier to see the government’s point. That mean old government was right.
Congress created the TVA in 1933 and President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the bill into law. It was created to provide navigation, flood control, electricity and economic development to an area hit especially hard by the depression. The area covered most of Tennessee, portions of Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky and a little of Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia. I would venture, if not for the electricity provided by TVA, these states would not be red states, they would be mostly pitch black states. The rednecks and Tea Partiers just love TVA’s low electric rates.
In 1936, the Supreme Court ruled the TVA to be constitutional. It was the first regional planning agency of the federal government. I hate to imagine what the current Supreme Court might do. The Tea Party, no doubt, believes it’s a socialist program started by President Barack Obama.
If you wanted to end some government programs, where would you start? I’d start with tax breaks for corporations out-sourcing jobs to other countries. The Tea Party generally starts with public education, that mean old government program inspired by Thomas Jefferson’s belief in free public schools.
There is a fine article by Michael Lux in Daily Kos July 5, 2012, that discusses some of these programs. Henry Clay’s American System of continual investment in public infrastructure is being threatened right now. Our public infrastructure is falling apart at a time when rebuilding it would be a major stimulus to our economy. “NO” say the Republicans. Why?
Had the Tea Party been around years ago President Abraham Lincoln would have never been received the nomination. If he were, there would be no Homestead Act, which gave away millions of acres to poor people. The Tea Party led Congress would have given the land to wealthy individuals. Lost would be Lincoln’s Land Grant University System which allowed millions of poor and working class families to send their children to college. Lincoln would have been sued by the Speaker of the House for issuing the Emancipation Proclamation; his most famous Executive Order. The Thirteenth Constitutional Amendment ending slavery would not have passed had the Tea Party controlled Congress. “Slavery?
What slavery,” they would have said.
President Theodore Roosevelt’s trust-busting and child labor laws would still be someone’s dream. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, which included Social Security, labor laws, bank regulation, rural electricity, farm price supports and the G.I. Bill would never have gotten to the floor for a vote today. President Dwight Eisenhower’s Interstate Highway System would die a similar death.
Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, among many things, championed civil rights legislation, Medicare and Medicaid, Head Start, and the Defense Department’s research operation, which led to the development of the Internet.
That mean old government gave us the TVA, public schools, interstate public infrastructure, civil rights laws ending Jim Crow, colleges for children of working families, the end of the great depression, rural electricity, the G.I. Bill, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, interstate highways, the Affordable Care Act, a trip to the moon and email. Right? Who needs ‘em? Tea Party Republicans want to bring Jim Crow back by making it difficult for minorities to vote. They imply that the mean old government, led by Obama, forced all these socialist things upon us — things we could do without according to them.
Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana said citizens are not dependent on government programs. Well, Jindal, why didn’t you pay to have the private sector do all the work the Army Corps of Engineers has done to protect New Orleans from another disaster? Why, indeed?
Our government isn’t mean. We all, including Tea Party folks, depend on it many times everyday of our lives. I don’t know where in the heck we would be without all the federal programs and facilities which provide so much for all of us at a reasonable cost.
Those mean old Republicans think the private sector could have done all of these things on their own. Then, why didn’t they? How much would they charge us for these things? Imagine paying a $2 toll every 10
miles on I-40, or $5 to mail a letter. Mercy!
Glen McAdoo is a Fallon resident who can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org