Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tuesday links: Storytime, featuring the internet.

Where is this country going? KPC offers a fairly depressing take that, try as I might, I cannot disagree with.

This person rebuts by saying that big government is ultimately unsustainable. I contend that "ultimately" can last a very long time.

What's more, there is no political party in America (other than the Libertarian Party) interested in actually shrinking government. Oh, sure, they talk a good game when they are out of power, but typically their real goal is not to shrink the government, but to prevent the enemy from "winning" for various definitions of winning.

Once people get into power, it seems that the most important thing is keeping power. Secondary to that is the need to be seen as triumphant in your endeavors, regardless of actual performance. Seriously, when was the last time a sitting president admitted a policy error? (no link on that last sentence because I really am drawing a blank.)

Then you remember that this is a nation that gives its government absolutely absurd powers, like a blank check for theft, almost unrestricted discretion on who and what to persecute, a mandate to be everywhere in everyone's business, the ability to strip you of your livelihood for the benefit of the established and wealthy, prevent acts of charity and suppress even the most petty forms of expression. There are American citizens murdered and imprisoned by our government despite having never been convicted of a crime. That last link has a happy ending, but is a terrifyingly real phenomenon occurring with legal sanction across the nation..

In a way, then, it is completely unsurprising that people who desire coercive power would seek to join the most powerful coercive institution on the planet. However, not everyone in government is actively villainous. There are plenty of people who are simply stupid or uncaring. Even those government employees who, at a glance, appear to be upstanding, decent people frequently possess terrifying and twisted worldviews and are often motivated into politics specifically to impose those worldviews on everyone else.

It seems so obvious to me that the best way to organize society is to keep as many decisions as possible in the hands of those people affected by those decisions and not in the hands of an incoherent mass of uncaring madmen with the world's largest guns. That isn't to say there is no role for government as an arbiter and a watchdog, but we as a nation have forgotten to be vigilant, we have forgotten that arbiters can be bought off by the wealthy and the powerful, and that watchdogs can turn rabid.

Oh, dear. I didn't realize just how neatly this would segue into a pitch for Gary Johnson. But it did.

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