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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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One step away
June 8, 2024

Pluto still planet over N.M.

Well, they’ve done it again. Legislators in New Mexico have managed to waste valuable time and taxpayers’ dollars saying something that amounts to nothing and which demonstrates a complete lack of concern for the independence of a field, while not being quite serious enough to offend.
As almost all of you probably don’t know, today is the second anniversary of Pluto Planet Day. In March 2007, New Mexico’s legislators declared the recently downgraded orb to be a planet, at least when it visits their state.
The resolution, known as a memorial, passed through both houses of the state legislature and declares that “as Pluto passes overhead through New Mexico’s excellent night skies, it be declared a planet […]” The legislation even proclaimed March 13, 2007, Pluto Planet Day in honor of the birth of Pluto’s discoverer, Percival Lowell.
All good and well, one might say. But this makes me wonder if these people really know what their job is. Apparently, passing old-fashioned laws has gotten to be old-fashioned. And if you think bestowing time-particular planethood is above and beyond the job description of a modern legislator, wait until you hear what kind of prerogatives the representatives in Washington, D.C., think they have.
Pluto Planet Day is a playful case, but more recent events have provided Americans with more weighty examples of people biting off a bit more than they know how to chew. From the dying auto industry to the banks to the ever-controversial field of federal interference in healthcare, people seem to look to “The Government” to solve whatever crisis comes their way. As if “The Government’s” ability to tax and spend somehow makes it a responsible professional in every field imaginable.
The saying that “politics is show business for the ugly” seems to be applicable to more than one industry, if “The Government’s” track record is any indication of performance.
Detroit is failing, so the Big Three need a bailout. Why? It might be that NAFTA reduced the cost of importing automobiles that were completely assembled by cheaper labor just a hop, skip and a jump across the Rio Grande. It might be that the federal government decided to allow non-unionized cars to be built by Toyota while American-made models suffered from no such generosity in Japan, or any number of comparable cases.
The major banks have failed and need money only the federal government can borrow. Why? Because the federal government encouraged lenders to give mortgages to people who couldn’t pay them back, then deregulated the industry to allow banks to treat those mortgages as credit for more borrowing. I know I’m speaking in general terms, but it’s necessary because of the extent of this track record.
One more example: healthcare, the ever-present, ever-contentious issue. There is no denying that peoples’ lack of money is costing them medical visits, treatments and prescriptions they obviously need.
Why? Ask yourself why everyone needs health insurance, instead of healthcare.
Ask yourself why there is an entire industry devoted to developing schemes for financing a doctors’ visit, which normal people could afford on a pay-as-you-go basis before the introduction of Medicare in the 1960s. There are other reasons for high costs, of course, such as the dramatic increase in research of new, groundbreaking drugs, but why are those drugs more expensive in America than in Canada or Mexico? Government policy.
In response to the belief in the dying influence of religion on society’s decision-making processes, my religious studies professor made an excellent point. According to Richard Stadelmann, an associate professor of philosophy, as religious influence wanes, individuals come to be assessed less for their worth as individual human beings and more as the subject of cost benefit ratios. He used the example of the medical operation that saved his life, which was not available in the government-run medical systems of more secular Europe because it costs more money to perform on an elderly individual than that individual can contribute in the remaining years of his life. That is the kind of power a government can exercise when it is the first resort for all of society’s problems.
Do we, as a nation, want to move toward a day when congressmen can decide what planets are, politics can run banks and factories without accountability to shareholders or customers and bean counters can choose who gets to live and whose life is not worth saving? I think not, and frankly, I dread the day I am in a minority because of it.

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