by J. Michael Atherton
The NH Republican platform lists the following under “Application of Principles”:
● Remove barriers to business formation and encourage small businesses
● Minimize business regulations, permits, licenses and paperwork
● Keep state government lean to allow lower business taxes
● Foster an attitude of assistance and cooperation with business and increase responsiveness
Analyzing coded words of individual applications exposes their real message.
The real message of these planks that the GOP pushes is to leave NH borders unprotected and meaningless. Take their advice to “Remove barriers to business formation and encourage small businesses” which seems simply pro-business. What things seem and what they are may not be the same thing. In contrast to this looney advice, we should not just remove barriers but decide which barriers serve the purpose of protecting the state. Indeed, NH needs protective barriers to shield us from unscrupulous businesses. We should never naively do away with all barriers because such idiocy opens our borders to any and all bad actors. Instead of opening our doors to every con-artist, we should make sure every business adds value to our state. Removing regulative barriers to business opens the floodgates to the worst kinds of business scammers and, if made into law, would hamstring our executive branch from opposing their entry into NH. We should oppose the NH Republican open-door policy.
We must ask next if we should sign a blank check to “Minimize business regulations, permits, licenses and paperwork.” The term “minimize” is not the same thing as “destroy”; however, the anti-government vitriol in the rest of the platform suggests they wish to destroy government regulations, not merely tweak them. Here are the Republicans on government in an ever-growing drum beat of hate-filled words: they want “limited government,” life “unimpeded by intrusive government,” where our founders set out to “limit our government,” where people’s liberty is always protected “above the power of government,” where citizens may protect themselves and their property “without government infringement,” where no “local government may infringe on individual rights,” where parents may raise children “unimpeded by intrusive government regulation and control,” and so on. You get the picture. They want to shackle every aspect of government because they must believe that citizens somehow never make wrong, dangerous, or self-serving choices and no government should interfere with these choices. https://nh.gop/platform/
They clearly hate government, see it as intrusive, and
aim to dismantle it as soon as possible.
We must ask if regulations serve a good purpose. There are many occasions when the public needs protection from well-financed but corrupt businesses. Think of the many forms of telephone scams: lies from insurance con-artists, what of used car and appliance warranties, big pharma has made deception an art form, retirement homes repeatedly take elderly people’s last dime, and then there is the minefield of stock market brokers. Scammers come a’knockin on the phone and in emails every day. We must ask further if an individual citizen can successfully oppose businesses in a court of law or court of public opinion when both can be manipulated by well-financed businesses. Might regulations serve as protections?
Permits and licenses both require paperwork but this same paperwork vets businesses in order to save citizens from harm. To make blanket statements about minimizing these protections merely reveals the fact that Republicans support businesses regardless of any harm to citizens or the environment. The real message of this plank involves allowing businesses to do whatever they want without regard for the health, well-being, or economic security of NH citizens as long as businesses profit. Minimizing business regulations maximizes business damages to us.
Protections require strong enforcement. If this is true, then the next plank makes no sense. Republicans want to “Keep state government lean to allow lower business taxes.” “Lean” here means small and small means weak. Weak governments cannot enforce protections. If we weaken government, its reaction to unscrupulous businesses becomes sluggish and feeble. Small government makes NH citizens vulnerable to the worst kinds of business tricks. Small government cannot adapt quickly to the always changing business climate making citizens easy prey to scammers of all kinds. The only ones who benefit from a weak government are businesses out to do evil. The real message of this plank is to weaken government, which is the only social entity created to protect the citizens from business predators.
We must ask if we should “Foster an attitude of assistance and cooperation with business and increase responsiveness” without qualification. Some businesses need fostering, others need resisting, regulating, and stopping. To require NH to assist and foster any business at any time cripples our law enforcement because legislators are sending a mixed message: assist and foster all businesses while also regulating and occasionally opposing those same businesses. Regulation must come first and we cannot assume, as Republicans do, that all businesses will pass our regulatory evaluations. The real message in this plank is to turn a blind eye and just assist any business.
Analysis of their own words reveals their blind trust in business and antipathy toward anything that slows, questions, or has the audacity to stop any business from doing whatever it wishes in NH. They would turn NH into the wild west for business where they use legal gunslingers to rule the range. We need strong economic walls to protect our state from an invasion of unvetted businesses.
We cannot protect NH citizens with open-doors, blank checks, frail and ineffective regulations, and a sluggish, weakened government. This deregulation nightmare pits individuals against deep-pocketed businesses that can out-wait citizens over time, out-lawyer them in courts, and out-maneuver them in the world of public opinion. The only entity standing with citizens who oppose business Goliaths is a strong government answerable to the people through the vote.
About the author -
J. Michael Atherton (Mike) has retired from 30 years of teaching philosophy (after 20 years of teaching a variety of subjects from elementary to graduate school). He spent four years in the Peace Corps in Swaziland (now Eswatini), followed by marriage to Cynthia Walter, the birth of their first child, and a PhD all at the University of Chicago. They moved to Southwest Pennsylvania where Cynthia taught ecology and he taught philosophy while they raised two daughters. They moved to Dover in 2019 to be near their two grandsons in Maine. He has consistently found the Dems to be a group that publicly and privately follows their stated values: compassion, honesty, integrity, respect the dignity of all people, expanded freedom, responsible citizenship, promoting civil society, and protecting our environment. And they are great fun to be around. A winning combination!