Sunday, November 04, 2012

And I approved this message.

There will be no pictures in this post, only words.  We'll begin with a few well chosen ones from Thomas Paine.

"Some writers have so confounded society with government as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins.
Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices . . . The first is a patron, the last is a punisher." 

The truth of these words has been recognized and echoed by many others since.  Even 180 years later, the fictitious, Dr Ferris encapsulated this idea in the simple statement,
"There is no way to rule innocent men.  The only real power government has is to crack down on criminals." 

Yet somehow, a new beast has emerged, or rather, wedged itself into the role of government.  I'll call it the caretaker.  It is different from the soldier, the judge, the policeman, and the lawmaker.  They are actually needed to govern a country, or in more precise terms, to regulate it.

The caretaker serves a different purpose.  He does not concern himself with what is just, but what is needed.  This may seem innocuous enough, but then comes the question of who's need is to be served.  Whats more, one must then decide what actually comprises a valid need.  When elected officials are allowed to make these decisions, people who wish to be elected to an office are natually inclined to define need in a way that will secure the most votes.

I suspect many people understood this first half of the caretaker system, from the onset of our current form of government.  What seems to be less understood is that the elected caretaker does not provide for the needs of any citizen without first taking from another.  If something is actually free, there is no need for government intervention in the first place.  If something has value, it is not created by a conglomerate entity like a government.  Value is created by the minds and the efforts of individual people, sometimes working alone, sometimes working in concert with one another.  Sure governments can print money, but that only has value if people place value upon it.  If anyone, including a government department, starts indiscriminately printing and giving away money, sooner or later people figure out that its worth no more than paper.

When we accept the idea of a government caretaker as a legitimate provider of services, goods, and even money, then the question that arises every election day is, "who is the best caretaker."  The answer, except in rare cases, is "The one who 'provides' the most for his voters."  In order to provide more, he must find more sources from which to take, and so each election beomes a sort of race to see who can promise voters a bigger piece of what others have earned.

H. L Meneken* reognized this at the dawn of the roaring twenties.

"Government, is a broker in pillage, and every election is a sort of an advanced auction sale of stolen goods." 
I particularly appreciate the use of the word 'pillage' because it strips away all of the re-branding that has turned 'seizing' into 'taxing' and 'loot' into 'financial support'

The only things that keep such systems running year to year are the desire for the unearned, and the incomprehensible complexity of their operation. If we could all see where every penny of our tax money went, I guarantee that each of us would identify some recipients we believe to be undeserving of our money, and some administrative practices that are wasteful.  But when you have tax codes so complex that even accountants need specialists to interpret it, and politicians who talk about the good they have done for 'the country,' 'the community,' 'the unfortunate,' or some other loosely defined entity,  it becomes nearly impossible to see where your money goes to or comes from.

How does all of this pertain to the elections in 2012?  Frankly, I don't know how much long term impact this election will have on us all.  As with most elections, it will determine who gets pillaged and who gets the loot for the next few years, and it will have some impact on how much deeper we go into debt.  Sadly though, both parties are focused heavily on 'winning votes' and seemingly less concerned with ideologies. If I were a cynic I might compare it to a choice between riding in one handbasket or another, but at least there is still a choice to be made and we should consider the consequences as carefully as possible.

Each election gives us an opportunity to reflect upon the reasons for selecting one candidate verses another.

Ask yourself, "Is this person promising to be my caretaker?"

If so, he probably has no place in government.  As I said in the beginning, there are roles in government for soldiers, policemen, judges, and lawmakers.  There are plenty of derivatives and supporting roles that come with these, but caretakers, false providers, and other such 'charitable' individuals are not among them.

Please vote accordingly!

*Meneken was often an opponent of both democracy and religion, though I believe he would agree, their biggest flaws are typically their practitioners.