Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

February 4, 2014

WE THE PEOPLE: Spinning out of control

By Mary deWolf
Chronicle contributor

CROSSVILLE — Some “anti-government” folks have gone so far out on the right wing that they are causing us to spin out of control. They promote policies that actually take away personal choices. They frame social issue arguments to the point of absurdity. They show blind adherence to groups that couldn’t care less about them. And… they may take us all down with them.

Some on the right openly oppose “net neutrality,” a principal maintaining that all Internet traffic should be treated equally no matter the user, content, site, etc. Without net neutrality, large telecom companies can pick favorites, control consumers’ online experience and turn the Internet into their own private network. Consumers have few choices and little control. We enjoyed net neutrality until late January, thanks to FCC enforcement. Now the courts have ended that enforcement with the blessing of folks on the right blinded by opposition to anything involving the government. So now large corporations (don’t we all love our cable companies?) will have even more control over our options and services. Good luck with that.

It’s getting crowded on that right wing. Mike Huckabee just jumped on with a destabilizing thud. In a confusing attempt to get women to like conservatives, Mike is wooing them with accusations that they are stupid enough to believe that the Democratic push to provide safe contraceptive methods just shows that progressives think women are mindless hussies. In his world, for a married woman in a loving relationship, struggling to make ends meet and choosing to defer a family, it is immoral to ask for health insurance to cover the cost of safe, legal contraceptives. Hey Mike, what about Viagra? Guess men have more control over their libidos. Sure.

Seems these folks on the right wing are very confused about what actually constitutes control. Five years ago cities and counties in Tennessee were told they could opt out of a state law that opened parks to handgun owners. We could restrict guns in places where our children play. But the brain trust that is our state legislature is now backing a bill to take that decision away from us. Local interests across the state point out that this legislation eliminates the ability of people to control their own safety in their own communities. So — state control is good, but federal and local are not? No wonder our heads are spinning.

To shed more light on the subject, let’s consider those evil new light bulbs that are phasing out the incandescent ones invented in 1879. Turns out the new technology is saving energy and money. Thanks to reasonable efficiency standards, the industry is ripe with competition and consumer choices. Costs have fallen to affordable levels. But the far right, again out of control when it comes to “government control,” has blocked spending to implement the change — change proposed, by the way, in 2007 under the conservative Bush administration.

Is it any surprise that the parts of the country with the largest right wing strongholds suffer from the worst environmental and human health conditions? Hey Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina — how’s that lack of government control working for you?

Don’t let the uber conservatives drag us all down in their death spiral of anti-government rhetoric. Atlanta just called in the feds to help its citizens stuck on highway ice when local government failed to keep them safe. Government has an appropriate role to play in advancing the well-being of our nation and its citizens. We can calmly debate the limits of that role — but only when we are not spinning out of control.

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This column represents alternative thoughts to other published columns in the Crossville Chronicle. “We the People” is published each Wednesday. Opinions expressed in “We the People” columns are not necessarily those of the Crossville Chronicle publisher, editor or staff. For more information, contact John Wund, editor, at jwund@frontiernet.net.