Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Democracy in Action!

You'll be comforted to know that your government decided this past week that regulating handguns is unconstitutional, but regulating trans fats is perfectly ok. Never mind that we have a choice about how many trans fats we put into our bodies, and we have no choice at all who gets killed by the next crazy workplace shooter. Dangers that we cannot protect ourselves from (like guns at the office or at school) are ignored by the government, while dangers we can easily regulate ourselves are legislated out of existence.

The reason this happens, of course, is because of lobbying dollars and public opinion. We're all so lazy, and lacking in self-discipline, that we're happy to put the onus on McDonald's for our national obesity. On the other hand, a politician who takes on the machine of the NRA is signing a death warrant for his career.

Wouldn't it be nice if we had politicians that stood on principle instead of engaging in convenient hypocrisy? If you think government should control the people, call yourself a socialist and vote appropriately. If you think people should control the government, call yourself a libertarian and stay consistent. But all this middle-of-the-road case-by-case unprincipled bullshit shifts power from the voters into the hands of lobbyists and special interest groups.

If your decisions aren't guided by principle, what are they guided by? If you think it's ok for government to control certain parts of your life, but not others, where do you draw the line? Do you make an honest, intellectual evaluation of every issue? Or, as a politician, do you simply follow the money and the polls? The answer is evident.

A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy...

This quote, often misappopriated, has the ring of truth. However, I'd make a slight distinction as it applies to America. Voters have been stripped of, or willfully relinquished, nearly all of their power. Now instead it is wealthy interest groups and lobbying organizations that vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. They promise money and power in exchange for beneficial legislation. And thus, we march inevitably down the path of loose fiscal policy, shortsightedly squabbling over money we do not possess but refuse to stop spending.

The collapse of great civilizations often comes suddenly, immediately following the peak of greatness. Those unfortunate citizens fail to recognize the possibility of collapse before the reality is upon them. The last resources of these doomed societies are rarely invested toward the future, in an attempt to stave off destruction - they are instead squandered by leaders for short-term gain.

And so America stumbles on, expanding government with useless regulations and bloated entitlement programs. Only an out-of-control society on the verge of collapse could stray so far from the principles it espouses.

But we're the exception, right?


At 5:48 PM, Anonymous deppen said...

I'm just about finished reading "War and Peace", er, same length, wrong title. Make that, "Atlas Shrugged". I see parallels and it's creeping me out...

At 11:16 AM, Anonymous Nathan DeStefano said...

and in summary of the issue:

This history of increased 'rights' for corporate 'persons' who by their nature exist forever and have access to unlimited capital trends eerily close to the increase in political corruption and increase in federal powers. Who amongst the American populous can influence as effectively as an 'equal' entity with an unlimited lifespan, unlimited wealth, and unlimited number of members? This is where the political process is breaking down.


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