Today Tim Pawlenty said “We can start by applying what I call ‘The Google Test.’ If you can find a good or service on the Internet, then the federal government probably doesn’t need to be doing it.”
If he really understands Google, Tim Pawlenty does not deserve to be president on moral grounds. If Pawlenty does not understand the implications of what he said, he does not deserve to be president on grounds of ignorance. Either way, he’s testing the bottom of the swamp.
So what kind of society does Tim Pawlenty want? Because I can buy anything on Google. As my husband reminds me, “All it takes is money.”
Who needs the police? With enough money, I can hire my own protection–just ask any celebrity. With the right money and contacts, I can hire my own army. Just ask any warlord. Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia? We could do better here–we have more money and an amazing amount of firepower. Organized crime for generations has specialized in “protection,” whether it’s the Mafia in Sicily or Cleveland or drug gangs in El Salvador. All it takes is money.
The fire department? Pay for an adequate suppression system and who needs ’em. EMS? That’s what private ambulance services are for. Public schools? Fugget about ’em.
The only three things I can think of that cannot be truly bought on the internet are a) a conscience, b) fair legislation to protect us from our worst selves, and c) the means of fairly funding the latter. Individual politicians–yeah, they can be bought (though they may not advertise on Google). But personal and civic responsibility–that’s another matter. True morality can’t be bought either–but some people want to force their version of it on the rest of us. And maybe they don’t want to pay for our protection, but I’d bet that they’d pay to enforce their vision of “good behavior.”
Now that the weather is warm I open my upstairs bedroom window at night. In the distance, I can occasionally hear gunshots. I worry about that. If I had enough money, I could pay for my own guard to sit downstairs and keep me safe. That’s not the way I want to live. Is that the way that Tim Pawlenty wants me to live? I don’t really think so–this was just a way to appeal to the base.
But, right now, in those neighborhoods where the guns are going off, there are people living that way. And not just on the east side of Cleveland, but in Kabul, Waziristan, and Mogadishu. Ask them how that “provide for yourself” thingy is working out for them. And the “base” is not going to want to answer that.