The struggle we see today over control of government is disingenuous. Hell. It is downright phony. As I write this, the two major parties vying for control of the United States government, the Republican Party and the Democratic Party, are centering their narratives on political packages they believe meet the desires of the electorate such that the electorate gives one of the parties control over legislation, administration, or both. But do either offer any real change as to how the current model of government operates?
For the better part of the last 230 years or at least since the United States ditched its mercantilist economic policies, the United States has followed a policy that favors private control of the factors of commercial production where individuals or associations of individuals keep as income the revenues minus taxes and costs of production. Such a policy under-girded by the concepts of liberty and freedom is hoped to incentivize these private owners to create innovative products while enticing the consumer to borrow money and purchase product. Not only does the exchange between producer and consumer create taxable events thus revenues for government, but the ability that the producer and consumer have to autonomously enter into contracts to purchase validates the government’s authority over the jurisdiction of the United States. Government hopes that the freedoms producer and consumer enjoy along with the protection of the infrastructure upon which trade is conducted will engender an allegiance to American government, American culture, and American “society.”
Freedom and liberty are essential parts of the American government’s narrative and for all the squabbling between the two major parties, that base narrative has not changed, although it has been my observation that Democrats don’t use those words much as opposed to Republicans who enjoy attaching the words to markets and commerce. Government’s role is to sell the prevailing narrative. The economic policy component of the narrative is capitalism and this policy component, while not explicitly referred to in law, is implicitly referred to in various statutes as “markets”, “commerce”, “trade”, “full employment”, etc.
I think, however, that government has a more metaphysical role as well. Government’s other role is to convert human energy into something consumable. Humans prey on each other and technology and to some extent, the democratization of technology, has made that predatory behavior less obvious. For example, currency is a technology. We invest varying amounts of energy in capturing it and expend energy purchasing with our currency items for current or future consumption. Our energy via currency is converted into tax revenues for government and profits for investors. Through fiscal policy and the policy of capitalism, we are reduced to the function of a battery. Unlike Neo, we are unable to unplug.
While humans have moved horizontally from the era of direct cannibalization, government keeps in place an alternative form of cannibalism; one that extends our lives via social welfare safety nets, investment in medical advances, the delusion of growth via travel and institutional education, laws protecting our person and property, financial services promising comfort in retirement, and media stimulation to ease the pain and suffering stemming from being consumed five, six, seven days a week.
Who does this energy transference ultimately serve? I cannot say for sure. When I see poor people in grocery store aisles struggling over the affordability of food. When I see people dying because they cannot afford surgery. When I see people having to work well into their seventies instead of resting and enjoying the status of a venerated elder while passing down knowledge to younger generations, I cannot say that this energy transfer system that we call the political economy serves the common man. Rather, it serves us up…
So, what is government? Government is a cannibal. Government tenderizes us for consumption. Government sells us on the requirement to comply. Government enables us to serve the Energizer Bunny that is society.