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irregular times logoRepublicans propose new round of market-based solutions


Republicans have been complaining about lingering socialist elements in the United States government for years. Now, they finally can do something about it.

After the elections of 2004, the Republican Party controls the entire federal government in the United States. So, the Republican leadership has the unprecedented opportunity to put its political theories into action. Prime among the theoretical approaches favored by the Republican elites of Washington, D.C. is that of market-based solutions. It is expected that the Republican Party will soon introduce new legislation mandating market-based solutions for every variety of problem facing the American people.

The idea of market-based solutions comes from the Republican belief that problems of all kinds are best solved by allowing the mechanisms of a market-based economy to operate without restriction. Republicans believe that, just as appropriate prices for different sorts of merchandise are set by the forces of supply and demand, so too can social problems be addressed by allowing people in a free market to decide how much it is worth for those problems to be addressed.

For example, instead of outlawing the pollution of America's air and water, the Republicans in charge of the federal government believe that it should be legal for big corporations to pollute as much as they like, so long as they pay fees for the privilege. According to this Republican theory, cleaner corporations could earn money by selling pollution permits to corporations that wanted to dump big amounts of pollution into America's air and water. The people who live near these huge polluters could then make the market-based decision to sell their contaminated houses at a greatly reduced price and then pay a premium price for houses on land free of PCBs, acid rain, coal dust, arsenic, mercury, lead, dioxin and DDT. The same people would also be free, of course, to make the market-based decision to remain in their homes, and give birth to three-headed children before dying at the age of 28.

"It's a simple matter of supply and demand," explains Dr. Grant Appardon, President Bush's special White House advisor on market-based solutions. "Finally the people will have big government regulations off their backs, and they will be free to choose for themselves. Now, when it comes to pollution, there won't be some bureaucrat in a government office deciding what's illegal and what isn't. The American people can choose: It's your money or your life. That's the American way."

With the re-election of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, along with the strengthening of the Republican dominance of the U.S. Congress, it seems that the free-market system for dealing with pollution will soon be put into place. However, the vision of the Republican elite does not stop at reshaping environmental law in the United States. No, from their victory over environmental laws, the Republicans are quickly moving to implement their plans for free-market management of all sorts of societal problems.

For example, Republican lawmakers point out that although there has been strict governmental regulation of theft for generations, the anti-theft regulations have not succeeded at all in stamping out the practice of thievery. "The liberals think that some bureaucrat in Washington D.C. should be making all the decisions about private property," says Bonita Hart, director of the American Free Enterprise Association, "but we know that we have friends in the Bush Administration who see things our way." The American Free Enterprise Association has come up with a plan, favored by the Bush White House, under which all regulations outlawing stealing would be repealed, and replaced with a free-market system based upon voluntary compliance, much like what the Bush Administration has proposed to deal with corporate pollution.

Under the Association's plan, murder would likewise cease to be regulated by government authorities, and would instead be controlled through an open market trading in murder credits. Every year, all citizens would receive murder credits from the government as a reward. A certain number of these credits would entitle their owners to commit one murder free of penalty. So, citizens who chose not to murder anybody might sell their credits on the murder market, and those citizens who wanted to kill somebody would have the ability to buy the necessary amount of murder credits in order to avoid punishment. In this way, explains Hart, free market mechanics would ensure that only those people who were really worth killing would be murdered, and the current practice of senseless killing would come to an end.

Republicans in Congress are also looking at expanding their current agenda of free market health care. Representative Lou Neeson, of Tennessee's 18th Congressional District, has introduced a bill that would end what he condemns as "socialized breathing". Representative Neeson believes that it is wrong for the government to provide the public air to citizens free of charge. "For generations, people have been on the dole," says Neeson. "They're given as much air to breathe as they want, without having to earn it at all. This has created a culture of dependence upon the federal government that has created an underclass of lazy, unemployed breathers." Neeson's bill, which is supported by the Republican leadership in both houses of Congress, begins a process of privatizing air, so that all air would be owned by private corporations by the year 2020. Then, instead of breathing being subsidized by the federal government, every citizen could decide how they are willing to pay to have the privilege of breathing. Neeson argues that the system is "a logical extension of the trading of pollution credits by American corporations, really. Why not let everybody get a piece of the action? If you want to breathe good, clean air, you ought to be willing to pay for it."

The unfortunate mess created by George W. Bush's invasion of Iraq has also inspired White House advisors to come up with new ways to address the problem of the military's overextension. There has been so much warmaking over the last four years that there are not currently enough soldiers to participate in the fighting. President Bush promised not to introduce a new draft, and so his advisors have instead suggested that the government institute a free-market military enlistment program. They point out that there has long been an informal system by which the children of rich families can buy their way out of military service. Under the new system, all 18 year old males would be required to either enter the military or enter an annual auction for five thousand exemptions. "It's not a draft," insists General Mark Engton, spokesman for the Pentagon's new Office of Free Market Fighting, "The new system does not make military service mandatory. All 18 year old males will remain free to choose not to enter the military. They just have to make a bid for an exemption. We expect the starting price to be about 50,000 dollars. I have myself spoken to the president on this matter, and he assures me that, from his own experience he is confident that most teenagers have this kind of money readily available in their trust funds."

At a recent press conference announcing the broad spectrum of Republican market-based solutions to be implemented over the next four years, Dr. Appardon was asked whether the wisdom of the free market might be used to defuse the controversy over same-sex marriage, through a system by which same-sex couples could purchase the right to wed. "Absolutely not," said Appardon. "There are limits to every approach, and some things simply are not for sale. It is inappropriate to allow economic principles to define who is allowed to get married. We regard marriage as a moral issue."


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