Now I can safely cheer up.
Senator John Thune (R-SD) has introduced a bill he calls the "Government Ownership Exit Plan Act of 2009." At the site he has established to promote public support for the bill, he explains its purpose. "The government has taken unprecedented actions over the past 15 months to stabilize the economy, including taking direct ownership stakes in private companies. This creates a dangerous conflict of interest between the federal government and the private sector. The government shouldn't be an owner of companies it regulates in the private marketplace." The bill aims to prevent further government acquisitions. It sets a deadline of July 1, 2010 for complete divestiture of existing government ownership. It requires the Secretary of the Treasury "to submit a plan within 90 days for how it [sic] will end the conservatorship of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and end government ownership of those entities."
Since I agree with what the bill aims to achieve, I suppose I shouldn't quibble about the rationale Senator Thune gives for it. For better or worse though, my mind has a delicate digestive system. As when food is badly seasoned, so bad reasoning can make an otherwise welcome dish unpalatable. In this case it's hard to stomach the notion that the best reason for opposing the government's takeover of the private sector is that it compromises the integrity of its regulatory efforts. It's as if someone should oppose a government takeover of private homes because it would interfere with the honest collection of property taxes.
Thune's rationale sadly reveals the purblind vision that is destroying the Republican party. While some GM franchisees are seeing the fruits of a whole lifetime of disciplined hard work stolen away in a political vendetta, the Republican Senator laments the effect of the socialist takeover on government administration. In the process he accepts the notion that the current leap into socialism is the incidental by-product of some effort "to stabilize the economy," a lie made completely transparent by the simple fact that government action created the conditions for America's cascade into economic ruin.
I guess the 17th amendment is bearing its ultimate fruit (cf. 3 Cheers for the 10th Amendment Movement.) Even a supposedly "conservative" Republican Senator seems to think more like an appendage of the Federal government than like a representative of the deeply threatened interests of people in the State he's supposed to represent.
For a real conservative, the reason for opposing the socialist takeover of the private sector isn't that it might sully the integrity of the government's regulatory efforts. Instead, like Ronald Reagan at his best, real conservatives oppose specious government regulation because it threatens to undermine the economic independence people need to maintain their political liberty. They oppose it because it precisely gives unscrupulous politicians and bureaucrats the power to manipulate us into disaster, then use the disaster as an excuse to rob us all at once of livelihood and liberty.
How free can a people remain when government bureaucrats and politicians determine their wages, their conditions of work and indeed whether they work at all? How free can a people remain when government bureaucrats and politicians dictate their medical providers, their treatment and even whether they will be treated at all? How free can a people remain when the elected officials who are supposed to represent them become mere appendages of government power, with no thought but about how best to manipulate the people in order to gain and consolidate that power?
Those who wonder why so many conservatives no longer lay claim to or trust the Republican label, should think carefully about what's said here. It's hard to trust what Republicans say or do when their silences and omissions speak so eloquently of their lukewarm or betrayed allegiance to republican self-government.
As for Senator Thune's bill: I would recommend visiting his site to sign the petition that supports it. But while you're at it write him a note reminding him that socialism is bad because it destroys the conditions for liberty, not because it compromises the (mostly fictional) integrity of the government's regulatory schemes. If he ever grasps and effectively advocates the right reasons for his professed convictions maybe someday he'll be able to find the guts to do what he (and his G. W. Bush-led Republican bank bailout buddies) couldn't do last year: hold on to those convictions when the chips are down. They cravenly opened the floodgates to the socialist deluge the Obama faction is inflicting on our nation.
What's the difference between a conservative politician and a Republican? The conservative remembers his principles when he's in office. The Republican only acts as if he remembers when he needs our votes to put him there.