Keeping Mine, Getting Yours

What's in a name? Like, have you ever pondered what we mean by United States of America? Probably not. But what the hell, it's August. 

This is a country that has relied on a one-for-all-and-all-for-one spirit to coexist with individual liberty. It's been an unlikely combination, based on a premise that a national sense of community would overcome selfish impulses.

Sad to say, there is strong evidence selfishness is winning — that the U.S.A. is fraying into the D.S.A. for Disunited States of America — or, if you prefer, for the Darwinian States of America.

What got me thinking about our "survival of the fittest" society was the John Edwards silliness over whether to accept campaign contributions from lobbyists. Hillary got it right when she called that an "artificial distinction ... from the people who employ and hire lobbyists ..."

And what do they hire these high-priced lobbyists to do? Usually, it's to make sure that their special interests are protected.

More often than not it's at the expense, the huge expense, of those who are not so well funded, meaning the millions who can't afford the lobbyists.

What that means is that more and more are disenfranchised by the almighty political contribution. Public good is overtaken by private. We see it everywhere: from the new bankruptcy "reform" to the grossly dysfunctional medical system to lax antitrust enforcement to rich-favoring tax and trade policies, our government is, as the cliche goes, "the best that money can buy."

It's not hard to understand why people here are so lethargic about voting. There's a growing sense that no matter who is elected, he or she will join a government that is largely a handmaiden of the rich.

What we really need in this country is some way to get the people (remember them?) involved in holding their leaders accountable — some way beyond the candidate's sound bites and gimmicks.