Friday, October 15. 2010
I recently watched a brainwashed college student on TV repeating the same old tired platitudes and recite a comprehensive list of sweeping generalizations about the letdowns our elected officials rain upon us. Everything her little spiel implied is what most people have wanted from government since kings were invented, but have experienced only while riding unicorns under rainbows through enchanted forests up to cornucopias of food, drink, merriment, eternal good health, and sunshiny days with white puffy clouds and fountains in the park bubbling alternately with Merlot and Chablis.
The problem with her vision is that a high percentage of humans have at least moderate potential for nastiness of one kind or another. If everyone were truly good, if we all lived by the Golden Rule, no government would be needed. But since we can lapse into our more petty, savage, brutal, and selfish modes in an instant for no apparent reason, government becomes necessary to level the playing field so that the biggest, meanest dude in the valley doesn't wind up with all the gold, goodies, and girls.
And the irony in THAT is our dependence upon humans to form and operate that government, and being human, they're automatically flawed, whimsical, petty, crooked, mean-spirited, greedy, arrogant, flighty, incompetent, corrupt, selfish, egotistical, and sometimes downright evil. Any government comprised of those individuals would sooner or later begin to exhibit the characteristic flaws of its constituency. Government is just like any other tool . . . hammer, fire, gun, screwdriver, rope, knife . . . and like fire, or like sharp instruments, it can be extremely dangerous if used carelessly or needlessly. What tends to happen is that someone enters government at a low level with the best of intentions, the highest of ethics, the noblest of goals, and before long becomes acutely aware of just how much wealth and power are available for the taking.
Our recent congresses and executive administrations have established a pattern of unethical, immoral, and in some cases illegal behavior. The organizations designed to enact and enforce the laws of the land is not practicing what it's preaching. And that in turn generates disdain and contempt for the law, which then tells individuals that they don't have to obey laws they don't like because the laws are too complex or too cumbersome or too obscure, so each person is more or less left to decide which laws to obey and which to ignore. And when you think about that concept, don't forget that this nation was actually created out of distrust of government. The men who designed our system built in safeguards so that the people could actually keep an eye on what government is up to. But over the decades, politicians have mastered the skill of hiding, masking, obfuscating, misdirecting, deceiving, , double talking, and equivocating to the point that most ordinary citizens can no longer even FIND, much less READ, proposed legislation (such as the 2000+ page health-care reform bills).
Nearly everything the central government gets involved with winds up either in failure or in massive cost overruns. Reagan once said that the most terrifying words a victim of natural disaster could hear are "I'm from the government and I'm here to help you." Will Rogers said the same thing another way: "I don't have to make jokes. I just watch the government in action and tell on 'em." And just a few years ago I heard a late-nite comedian say (after the government failed in turning profit on a foreclosed whorehouse), "Crime would go out of business if the government took it over and tried to run it."
When you think about it, most people probably consider anything they get from the government to be a result of social progress. But those same people very likely believe that anything the government does for somebody else is pure socialism.
The most convincing criticism of republican democracy you'll ever find will occur during a brief conversation with an average man-on-the-street headed for the ballot box.