In the middle of one of the chapters of Gorky Park, I found myself thinking of Chernobyl and why it indicated that the course of deregulation was all wrong. Chernobyl wasn’t put up by any plan other than the blind zeal to make a mark of Soviet proficiency. Nuclear power for the sake of magnifying the glory of the State. There was little if any thought given to safety or to purpose. The thing was just reared out of the Ukrainian soil and started up. One day it blew up and killed the earth for miles around. That was Chernobyl.
The politics that led to Chernobyl are very much like those that are affecting our course as a nation today. Politicians have been pressing for deregulation without any purpose except to inflate the accomplishments of big business and the pocketbooks of CEOs.
I’d like to suggest that public works fail under three conditions: when big business is allowed to set the terms (when there is practically no government under deregulation plans), when government is allowed to do the thing solely for its own sake (the Soviet problem), and when government is corrupt and takes bribes from business interests (the classic Latin American model and what we have in the United States with the lobbying system). When we have seen great successes, government and business have worked together not to ensure business profits but to see the public is served. I think of the Interstate Highway System, the national parks, the space program as a few examples of this success.
I fear for America. Corruption has been reaching out and trying to eliminate government for the sake of a few. Both parties pay lip service to this problem, but only liberal and progressive Democrats do anything about it. Just as the Nazis adopted the word “socialism” to cover their fascism, so, too are the Republicans and conservative Democrats making appeals to populist rhetoric to cover up their stealing of the Commons that we all own by right as citizens of this great land. I also think awareness of this subterfuge is growing, so I have not lost hope even though the party that brought a Chernobyl of sorts down upon the American people not so long ago is desperately trying to cast the blame on those who work hardest to resurrect a strong partnership of government and business, founded upon accomplishing the right kinds of things for the majority of us in the common American marketplace and forum of ideas.