By Carol Frenier
Most of my liberal friends believe that you can’t trust corporations because they are greedy. Greed is built right into our capitalist economic system, liberals say. Only government regulation and oversight, if not outright government ownership, can curb bad corporate behavior. What those liberals fail to grasp is that governments are greedy, too, but their greed is more about power than money. And governments’ greed for power makes them no less inherently corrupt than corporations.
In both cases it is not really the structure of the institutions that corrupts but the nature of the human beings who use the power of those structures for their own purposes. We are all subject to the temptation to put money and power first in our lives; inevitably, in every age, some of us yield to that temptation, whether in business or government.
Our founding fathers understood that human beings will always behave this way, which is why our Constitution is full of roadblocks against the concentration of power in the hands of any one individual or group. Paradoxically optimistic about human capacity for good, the founders set out to create a political environment in which individuals were free to create their lives with minimum interference from governments.
We only have to read the daily news to confirm the need for these roadblocks to government domination, and there is a lot more happening underneath the radar. Sidney Powell’s “Licensed to Lie” is a powerful exposé about corruption in the Department of Justice long before the current abuses of FISA, the prosecution of General Flynn, or the extravagantly staged pre-dawn arrest of Roger Stone. Powell takes her reader back to the days of Enron, Arthur Anderson and Alaska Senator Ted Stevens. She tells us the backstory of a DOJ culture that condones systematically heavy-handed and even illegal methods to intimidate and harass targets and their families. Her story helped me see that current abuses are not the exception but the norm.
Closer to home, we are watching the Vermont legislature abuse the power that comes with being a supermajority in order to pass every kind of climate change bill they can think of. The roadblocks against concentration of power in Vermont have been effectively run over by Democrats and Progressives. The most egregious example is the Global Warming Solutions Act that will give far too much power to an unelected panel to do what they think is needed to control carbon emissions. It also gives special interest groups like the Conservation Law Foundation special new power to sue Vermont government for not achieving its goals, regardless of whether these goals are even possible. I can’t think of a better formula for bankruptcy for the state of Vermont.
Abuse of power is not a Democrat or Republican issue because sooner or later each party will be in the minority and subject to the power of the other. There is only one roadblock left to stop this political train wreck: you are seeing him/her every time you look in the mirror. There is still time for us Vermonters to plead with our representatives to uphold a likely veto by Gov. Phil Scott of the Global Warming Solutions Act. And we have to show up at the polls in November to remove those who did not listen to calls for restraint. In the minds of many, the 2020 election will make or break this state.
Carol Frenier is a business owner living in Chelsea, Vermont. She is the chair of the Orange County Republican Committee.