An old friend of mine posted a petition on Facebook calling for the abolition of the UK TV licence. The arguments sounded fine, and for him, he was happily considering leaving behind watching live TV and getting all his entertainment via various internet ‘catch-up’ services and/or media memberships like Netflix or Amazon Prime.
I disagreed on the point in the petition since I am an avid lover and huge fan of the BBC. It is an organisation truly independent of commercial interests, and set up to be unbiassed in any way to whichever government is in power at any time; it is owned by the ‘state’ (we, the people, who pay for it) and not the incumbent of Downing Street. On analysis, though, I became aware of a bigger picture. The main opponents of the BBC are the very media companies that would see them as rivals; they are not happy with a state-funded operation that may take viewing traffic away from them and eat into their profits. Perhaps the most vocal of these has been the son of Rupert Murdoch, CEO of Fox and Chairman of News Corp.: James Murdoch. In 2009, while a non-executive chair at British Sky Broadcasting, he delivered a lecture railing against the ‘state-sponsored news’ of the BBC that is hostile to ‘the independence of news reporting’ [his words]. He used another word sometime later to describe the BBC which was akin to ‘disgusting’ – I think that anyone associated with Fox need not talk about ‘independent news’ unless they wish to get bitten on the behind! He was forced to resign in 2012 from Sky due to his implication in the phone-hacking scandal. Glass houses, James!!
The war being waged on the BBC is part of the bigger corporate war on government. It comes down to who runs our country – our elected representatives or unelected commercial interests? These national… no, multinational companies are of the opinion that you and I would be better served by them than by government, with all their controls and nanny-like telling you what you can and cannot do. Sure we would all be happier being more independent and masters of our own destiny, yes?
Trouble is that things we say we believe in can be used by others to make us think they stand for the same things, but they don’t mean the same thing that we do. Those of us who are conservative-minded and desire ‘less government’ and the paring away of ‘unnecessary regulation’ know what we mean by this – we all would wish to be able to live as we please without interference or encumbrance; no civil service bureaucrat telling us that we can’t build that extension to our house, or that our perfectly docile dog must be kept restrained from wandering towards neighbour’s children. Or the police knocking our door… no, hold on, the police do a great job! Sure I’m a law-abiding citizen! They serve me and go after those criminal elements in our society, so I’ve no problem with them.
However, the corporations, whose sole aim is to make profit for their executives and shareholders, may speak the same language as us, but the meaning is different; less government means they don’t have to answer to anyone else about what they broadcast, what they charge, how they deal with opposition (like the BBC!), what customer service they have to give you and me. All those things that a pesky government might do to hinder them is what they see as ‘unnecessary regulation’ – the ‘free market’ serves them to defeat or devour the opposition until they control a monopoly, and ultimately, us!
For the love of money is the root of all evil. – 1Tim. 6:10
While we all wish for more control over our own lives, living in a society (if you still do believe it exists!!) means we must have some sort of controls to limit the reach of criminality and evil. Thus we do need effective government, who must be allowed to do their job of governing those who have elected them to power. Note that in that most memorable quotation from the Gettysburg Address, Lincoln did not say “less government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” That would just not make sense, and I think that old-fashioned conservatives, like the original US Republicans, would cringe at what ‘less government’ has come to mean today, when rebranded by the free market neocons.
Look around you and take note that the spending cuts of ‘austerity’ is biting at everything! EVERYTHING we hold dear, including our own forces of law and order! Most police stations I try to visit now are closed to the public!! This war between them and us (for the division is not along lines of religion, race or culture) is a real one, and it is a war of ideology. I believe in democracy, the will of the people, the right of everyone to elect those whom they think will serve them best and to remove the current government from power if they think that they deserve to be removed.
So at this time of nearing election, I keep my ears peeled for what they say. The phrase ‘less government’ is the rallying cry in the US, but here it is a bit more subtle. However, any reference to a need for ‘austerity’ for me is a sign that that government is willing to reduce the services that you and I benefit from in order to spend less on those things and thus reduce the ‘amount’ of government that we all would be happier with, which makes it harder in the future to reintroduce those services, and not raise any more taxes on the rich, which would be the answer to austerity! ‘We’ being you and me, and not the less than 1% that head the corporations that wish to run everything for profit. Even ‘sacred’ things like defence!
The day before 9/11, Donald Rumsfeld gave a speech to the Pentagon, now notorious on various ‘conspiracy’ websites, where he addressed how A LOT of their money had gone missing/ been overspent/ was not properly tracked/ been siphoned off by someone [delete as appropriate to your political belief]. Above all this debate and counter-debate about what Rumsfeld actually meant, we saw a change in US defence spending: the Iraq War saw the use of private contractors on the ground in a way never seen before. This was the agenda – to divert spending from government-run defence to corporation-run defence. Mark my words, this day, and I may yet be hailed as a prophet before I die: some day, someone will make a serious proposal to privatise our Trident nuclear defence! We’ve already allowed the privatisation of the submarine bases!
If you want ‘less government’, make sure the people you vote for mean the same thing that you do.
Grace be with you.