Liberal No More

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What happens when a lifetime of experience gets processed in a period of introspection and begins to overwhelm a long held youthful idealism? David Mamet comes up with this:

What about the role of government? Well, in the abstract, coming from my time and background, I thought it was a rather good thing, but tallying up the ledger in those things which affect me and in those things I observe, I am hard-pressed to see an instance where the intervention of the government led to much beyond sorrow.

But if the government is not to intervene, how will we, mere human beings, work it all out?

I wondered and read, and it occurred to me that I knew the answer, and here it is: We just seem to. How do I know? From experience. I referred to my own—take away the director from the staged play and what do you get? Usually a diminution of strife, a shorter rehearsal period, and a better production.

The director, generally, does not cause strife, but his or her presence impels the actors to direct (and manufacture) claims designed to appeal to Authority—that is, to set aside the original goal (staging a play for the audience) and indulge in politics, the purpose of which may be to gain status and influence outside the ostensible goal of the endeavor.

Strand unacquainted bus travelers in the middle of the night, and what do you get? A lot of bad drama, and a shake-and-bake Mayflower Compact. Each, instantly, adds what he or she can to the solution. Why? Each wants, and in fact needs, to contribute—to throw into the pot what gifts each has in order to achieve the overall goal, as well as status in the new-formed community. And so they work it out.

There is so much more good stuff in this article. Thanks to David Boaz for citing this – he also has more worth reading on the subject. I just could not pass up that description of how central direction can often disrupt a system that it is meant to organize.

About David

David is the father of 8 extremely organized children (4 girls / 4 boys) who is constantly seeking answers to tough questions related to parenting, education and politics while moonlighting for 40 hours each week as a technology professional. He also enjoys cooking, gardening, and sports.
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3 Responses to Liberal No More

  1. Jason Black says:

    I’ve been thinking lately about the silly notion I perceive among many (liberals and conservatives alike) that somehow businesses and the wealthy are greedy and selfish, yet the government is altruistic and solves the problems created by the former. I don’t suggest that this is a conscious or intended idea – but it seems to be an unsaid assumption behind many otherwise reasonable discussions.

    For example, I read here and elsewhere of the corruptness of PACs and corporations and the wealthy elite seeking to influence politicians with their gifts and large donations. It’s described as unethical. Yet it seems to me that this behavior is not very different from politicians pushing populist legislation that puts money/gifts into the hands of their constituents with the intention of promoting their own aims – election, usually (think bridge to no-where or universal health-care). If any major difference is present, it is simply that the corrupt corporations are using their own property to further their agenda, while the corrupt politicians are promising what they themselves do not own.

    At the core, those in business and those in politics are people, and they behave like people – seeking to satisfy their own self-interest. Businesses seek to maximize profits and politicians seek to maximize their personal power, sometimes quantified by their term in office.

    I’m not suggesting that it is not a corrupt practice to “buy” politicians. What I am suggesting, is that when we try to solve a perceived problem with a capitalist system, we ought to recognize that the self-interested in government can and will cause as much or more damage as they pursue their self-interest as do evil corporations. Furthermore, let’s not allow politicians to “buy” our votes with their promises of programs or pork that benefit us – as by so doing we fall into the same trap as politicians do when they accept gifts and money from those who wish to influence their legislation.

  2. David says:

    I can’t speak for others, but I’d like to clarify my position as my commentary is (obviously) the most prevalent influence here.

    I don’t think that the universal result of PACs and others giving large donations is corruption nor that it is universally unethical. It obviously holds the potential for corruption, but the universal result is a warping factor. Larry Lessig articulates it well in 10 minutes to announce two ideas.

    I wholeheartedly agree with your final idea that we have to not allow politicians to secure our votes by their promises and performance of securing pork in our favor. When we do that we are part of the problem in allowing money to warp politics. I try to make more fuss about my own senators and representative indulging in pork than I do about other elected officials.

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