Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. People Are a Problem

 

“Drain the swamp!” you say. It’s a fine catchphrase, and I endorse the sentiment, but what are we really talking about? Well, corruption in Washington, of course; everyone can agree that we need to eliminate corruption in Washington. Right?

Well, sure. But Washington is a big place. There are a lot of moving parts and a lot of places for corruption to hide. How precisely do we go about exposing it, let alone removing it? And assuming we do manage to both expose and remove corruption to any degree, just exactly what are we going to replace it with? This last question is a serious one, for without a serious answer to it, it’s not clear that “draining the swamp” is worth the effort.

I don’t have the answers to these questions, but I do have some thoughts. I only wish they were more encouraging.

As it seems we must, let’s begin with President Trump. Trump has brought a lot to the presidency — some good; some not. Without wading into what’s what on that front, I think it’s objectively true that Trump has acted as a lightning rod for corruption. Trump Derangement Syndrome is a real thing, and time and again we’ve seen corruption reveal itself as its victims risk their reputations and careers to defend or destroy him. We’ve had a harsh glimpse at both how rampant and deep is the corruption in Washington. So, at least in that narrow sense, Trump has done the country a service. Still, it’s a safe bet that we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg, and we can only fret at how much more lies beneath the surface.

The thing is, Trump is a singularly polarizing figure, and he won’t be with us forever. While things may never return to “normal,” in a few months, or years, this particular lightning rod will be gone. And whatever the new “normal” looks like, we can be sure the “deep state” will seek out new rocks, once again to wage corruption from the shadows.

The upshot of all this is that whatever corruption Trump has managed to expose or even remedy, it’s not enough, and it’s only temporary. So I ask again, just how do we go about “draining the swamp” in any meaningful and lasting way?

It is the temporariness of the problem which prompts my “serious” question above: Supposing we do figure out how to expose and eliminate corruption in Washington, what are we going to replace it with? That’s the thing about swamps. You can drain them, but they are just going to fill back up unless you fill them in with something (typically land). The same conditions that gave rise to the swamp in the first place are going to give rise to it again..

In the case at hand, the “conditions” are people. You can fire all the corrupt people you want (assuming you can find them), but if all you’ve got to replace them with is other people, good luck. One of the things that makes a conservative is a realistic view of human nature, and any realistic assessment has to conclude that we’re going to end up right back where we started.

If there is a serious answer to the question, I think it lies in Milton Friedman’s observation that you don’t want a system that relies on the right people being in the right positions. There just aren’t enough right people, and there’s no reliable way to ensure that the wrong people aren’t going to come along tomorrow. All of which has me concluding that “draining the swamp” is the wrong approach, at least in the way it’s being conceptualized. Replacing “their corrupt people” with “our corrupt people” — even if you could do it — is satisfying (and, admittedly, an improvement), but it’s not a long-term solution.

One of my personal mottoes is People are a problem — and people in charge of other people are a bigger problem. That’s not going to change any time soon. So if there’s any hope, and I’m not sure there is, it has to be in changing the system itself. If we’re serious about tackling the problem, we need to abandon the “drain the swamp” mentality and adopt more of a “pull the plug” approach. We need to take so much power away from Washington that there’s literally nothing left to corrupt.

Now, I know I’m preaching to the proverbial choir here; all of us are in favor of drastically reducing the size and scope of the federal government. And it’s fair to ask just how, precisely, we go about gutting the government when all efforts since the Signing have failed. And, sadly, the answer is … I don’t know. (Recall, I only promised you thoughts, not answers.)

I am convinced, however, that this is the better question to be asking.

Published in General
This post was promoted to the Main Feed by a Ricochet Editor at the recommendation of Ricochet members. Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

There are 41 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Saint Augustine Member

    • #1
    • February 17, 2020, at 2:16 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  2. Freeven Member
    Freeven Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

     

    I have to confess, I’m not very familiar with HGTTG and had no idea this existed. I watched the movie once, long ago, and thought it was “okay” — except for that opening number with the dolphins, which I quite liked and remember well. Having seen this (I assume for the second time) I’m thinking I’ll have to take another look at it. Good stuff.

    • #2
    • February 17, 2020, at 2:27 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  3. Saint Augustine Member

    Freeven (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

     

    I have to confess, I’m not very familiar with HGTTG and had no idea this existed. I watched the movie once, long ago, and thought it was “okay” — except for that opening number with the dolphins, which I quite liked and remember well. Having seen this (I assume for the second time) I’m thinking I’ll have to take another look at it. Good stuff.

    This passage was his joke on Plato. It’s good stuff.

    Your post is good stuff too.

    • #3
    • February 17, 2020, at 2:29 AM PST
    • 1 like
  4. Saint Augustine Member

    Freeven: And it’s fair to ask just how, precisely, we go about gutting the government when all efforts since the Signing have failed. And, sadly, the answer is… I don’t know. (Recall, I only promised you thoughts, not answers.)

    The right question is always a step in the right direction!

    Me, I’m in favor of originalism (because it’s true, but it also reduces the power of the federal government), deregulation, maybe some jurisdiction-stripping, and hiring federal workers below the rate at which they retire.

    • #4
    • February 17, 2020, at 2:32 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  5. Arahant Member

    To all federal employees and departments:

    Please point to the exact clause in the US Constitution (Articles I-III, only) by which your department/job is authorized. Until your response is received and approved, you may want to be sending resumes out to the private sector.

    Thank you.

    • #5
    • February 17, 2020, at 3:27 AM PST
    • 11 likes
  6. I Walton Member

    Of course you are right. Washington can’t be fixed. We have to have a national military, a foreign service, and pieces of the Department of Commerce to establish rules for foreign trade, but the rest can go. These will be corrupt in their own way, but if we keep them small and stay on top of them they can be whipped into shape when we really need them or be managed. by knowable legislation and law. The rest either shouldn’t exist or should all be returned to the states. It’s not theoretically possible to have some organization run things about which it cannot have knowledge. Even most states are too big and remote to know the effects of their decisions. They aren’t corrupt in the traditional sense of the word, i.e. they don’t take specific bribes. It’s that they have to have objectives and try to follow them but can’t know what they’re doing, so they gather power to get on top of what they think their objective is, but a few thousand people in Washington can’t know what is going on in thousands of towns, cities, counties and states. They have to guess and different parties think they’re going to impose different guesses but it’s not possible to guess right because it’s beyond human knowledge. The good news is that the fix doesn’t require constitutional change or radical new ideas. 

    • #6
    • February 17, 2020, at 4:33 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  7. CJ Coolidge
    CJ

    Freeven: Now, I know I’m preaching to the proverbial choir here; all of us are in favor of drastically reducing the size and scope of the federal government

    I have found this to be either not really true, or that each individual conservative has some pet program they would not get rid of, so that when you add them all up, you have roughly what we have now. For example, I once made the case that the ostensible reasons the State gives for requiring you to get one of their driver’s licenses are pretty weak, given that they hand them out to just about any idiot. I was surprised by the amount of pushback I received for suggesting that we could abolish the DMV. “Surely conservatives can all get behind the abolition of the DMV!” I naively thought.

    Yes, people are susceptible to corruption, but it is power that corrupts, and none more so than coercive monopoly power. Otherwise decent people are ensnared and seduced.

    The reality, I believe, is that any and all replacements would quickly become enemies of liberty. It must not be replaced; it must be delegitimized. For starters, we can recognize that the Constitution was a usurpation, a betrayal of the Revolution, and that it is a complete failure. It failed within a decade, and has been failing ever since.

    Allegedly, the government derives its power from the “consent of the governed.” Not once in my life, or in any of your lifetimes, have we been asked if we give our consent. For my part, I do not.

    • #7
    • February 17, 2020, at 4:51 AM PST
    • 1 like
  8. Jon1979 Lincoln

    Trump’s removed the asymmetrical appliance of decorum that’s been a growing part of politics in Washington since the late 1960s, and is at the core of the hatred many on the left, and even the angriest of the #NeverTrump crowd have with him.

    As others have noted, Trump’s playing by the rules of political combat set by the Democrats, where civility can be abandoned and the incivility of others ignored or condoned, if the proper people are targeted. It was fine to do assassination pr0n books and movies about Bush 43, but Republicans were simply supposed to sit there and take it, knowing that the public would see through these bad manners and do what’s right…

    …two terms of Barack Obama later, after both McCain and Romney abided by the asymmetrical decorum rules, enough Republicans had had enough and nominated the guy who had make a lack of decorum his trademark over 35 years, and the fact Trump was attacking Democrats in the same manner they had gone after Republicans for years couldn’t be tolerated.

    The establishment power structure of Democratic politicians, career bureaucrats, the media, and even Republicans for whom “It’s not whether you win or lose; it’s how you play the game” apparently is their overriding mantra, decided Trump was so awful America couldn’t even wait until the next election to impeach him, and they also couldn’t wait until he actually did something that rose to the level of impeachment to do it. They rationalized that because Trump was bad it was OK to do bad things to remove him from power, and their failure to be able to close the deal now on multiple attempts has given each new effort more and more of a Wile E. Coyote-like quality of fanaticism.

    Each new attempt becomes more comical because they seem oblivious to their failures and eternally optimistic that the next new ‘crisis’ ginned up will finally be the one that catches the Road Runner (which makes Trump’s spin around the Daytona track Sunday an apt metaphor).

    • #8
    • February 17, 2020, at 5:00 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  9. Stad Thatcher

    Freeven: all of us are in favor of drastically reducing the size and scope of the federal government.

    This is how you do it – reduce the overall size by not replacing workers on a one for one basis after people retire or leave. Once a department reaches the point it can only keep its vital programs going, then you can level things out. This has the added benefit of forcing agencies to decide what scope to cut. If an agency dropped an engineering program in favor of its diversity council, you fire the manager who made the decision and promote someone who will fix the mistake.

    • #9
    • February 17, 2020, at 5:52 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  10. DonG (skeptic) Coolidge

    Bring back transparency. Team Obama abused the intelligence systems, because there is no transparency there. Those systems need to be revised so there is less secrecy.

    • #10
    • February 17, 2020, at 5:52 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  11. I Walton Member

    Stad (View Comment):

    Freeven: all of us are in favor of drastically reducing the size and scope of the federal government.

    This is how you do it – reduce the overall size by not replacing workers on a one for one basis after people retire or leave. Once a department reaches the point it can only keep its vital programs going, then you can level things out. This has the added benefit of forcing agencies to decide what scope to cut. If an agency dropped an engineering program in favor of its diversity council, you fire the manager who made the decision and promote someone who will fix the mistake.

    You’re assuming they can know what relative and effective (for the nation as a whole) objectives might be. They can’t.

    • #11
    • February 17, 2020, at 6:09 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  12. CJ Coolidge
    CJ

    Stad (View Comment):
    Once a department reaches the point it can only keep its vital programs going,

    “vital.” LOL!

    DonG (skeptic) (View Comment):
    Bring back transparency.

    The first step to government transparency is to abolish the secret ballot. As Lysander Spooner points out, you can’t hold your neighbors responsible for their votes if you don’t know how they voted. If the conceit is that we have a “Government by the People, of the People, for the People,” then that is ultimately who we should hold responsible.

    I Walton (View Comment):
    You’re assuming they can know what relative and effective (for the nation as a whole) objectives might be. They can’t.

    Agreed. This is the classic problem of central planning: the lack of a price mechanism to signal optimum allocation of scarce resources.

    • #12
    • February 17, 2020, at 6:24 AM PST
    • Like
  13. Kephalithos Member

    Arahant (View Comment): Please point to the exact clause in the US Constitution (Articles I-III, only) by which your department/job is authorized. Until your response is received and approved, you may want to be sending resumes out to the private sector.

    On second thought, don’t bother. The private sector probably doesn’t want you.

    Drastic cuts, far from solving our political problems, would produce a massive class of overeducated and unemployable people who’d no doubt channel their rage into radicalism. In other words, there is no winning. We have two options: death by smothering, or death by destabilizing political warfare.

    • #13
    • February 17, 2020, at 6:40 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  14. Arahant Member

    Kephalithos (View Comment):
    Drastic Friedman-esque cuts, far from solving our political problems, would produce a massive class of overeducated and unemployable people…

    Nah, just send them to countries we don’t like. “How would you like to go to China?”

    • #14
    • February 17, 2020, at 6:45 AM PST
    • Like
  15. Kephalithos Member

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Kephalithos (View Comment):
    Drastic Friedman-esque cuts, far from solving our political problems, would produce a massive class of overeducated and unemployable people…

    Nah, just send them to countries we don’t like. “How would you like to go to China?”

    As a member of that unemployable class, I think I can speak for my fellow useless Americans: Mass suicide is preferable to China.

    • #15
    • February 17, 2020, at 6:52 AM PST
    • 1 like
  16. Stad Thatcher

    I Walton (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    Freeven: all of us are in favor of drastically reducing the size and scope of the federal government.

    This is how you do it – reduce the overall size by not replacing workers on a one for one basis after people retire or leave. Once a department reaches the point it can only keep its vital programs going, then you can level things out. This has the added benefit of forcing agencies to decide what scope to cut. If an agency dropped an engineering program in favor of its diversity council, you fire the manager who made the decision and promote someone who will fix the mistake.

    You’re assuming they can know what relative and effective (for the nation as a whole) objectives might be. They can’t.

    Actually, we do know. Well, my agency (DOE) did. Techincal agencies and the military have lots of hard core missions that involve more than simply transferring money from A to B (like welfare payments). But you’re right. Any agency unable to decide what’s hot and what’s not will need external direction . . .

    • #16
    • February 17, 2020, at 7:18 AM PST
    • 1 like
  17. Stina Member

    I want Rule of Law applied fervently, unapologetically, and equitably.

    We all know the Dems cheat elections, but the only side ever prosecuted for cheating were the Rs. Why is that?

    We all know Obama did it, too. But only Trump went through an impeachment farce. Why is that?

    If what these swamp creatures have done breaks a law, apply the law. And not this obstruction charge in the absence of a crime. That should be an amplifier, not a standalone. 

    Apply the law and make it a deterrent to those who would be swampy but don’t want to face the consequences.

    That is the only thing I want out of any of this at this point – equality before the law.

    • #17
    • February 17, 2020, at 7:52 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  18. Tree Rat Member

    Kephalithos (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Kephalithos (View Comment):
    Drastic Friedman-esque cuts, far from solving our political problems, would produce a massive class of overeducated and unemployable people…

    Nah, just send them to countries we don’t like. “How would you like to go to China?”

    As a member of that unemployable class, I think I can speak for my fellow useless Americans: Mass suicide is preferable to China.

    So Hillary should be put in charge of downsizing?

    • #18
    • February 17, 2020, at 8:06 AM PST
    • 1 like
  19. Freeven Member
    Freeven Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    CJ (View Comment):

    Freeven: Now, I know I’m preaching to the proverbial choir here; all of us are in favor of drastically reducing the size and scope of the federal government

    I have found this to be either not really true, or that each individual conservative has some pet program they would not get rid of, so that when you add them all up, you have roughly what we have now. 

    You’re not wrong. This is one of the reasons the Tea Party didn’t last. There was a lot of talk about lowering taxes, balancing the budget, and returning Constitutional principles, but bring up Social Security and Medicare and the conversation got awkward.

    Yes, people are susceptible to corruption, but it is power that corrupts, and none more so than coercive monopoly power. Otherwise decent people are ensnared and seduced.

    If I can mince words, I don’t think power corrupts. The corruption is always there; power just reveals it.

    • #19
    • February 17, 2020, at 8:06 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  20. Arahant Member

    Kephalithos (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Kephalithos (View Comment):
    Drastic Friedman-esque cuts, far from solving our political problems, would produce a massive class of overeducated and unemployable people…

    Nah, just send them to countries we don’t like. “How would you like to go to China?”

    As a member of that unemployable class, I think I can speak for my fellow useless Americans: Mass suicide is preferable to China.

    France? Germany? Belgium! They have chocolate and lots of government and bureaucracies.

    • #20
    • February 17, 2020, at 8:17 AM PST
    • Like
  21. Arahant Member

    Freeven (View Comment):
    If I can mince words, I don’t think power corrupts. The corruption is always there; power just reveals it.

    Agreed.

    • #21
    • February 17, 2020, at 8:25 AM PST
    • Like
  22. Freeven Member
    Freeven Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Jon1979 (View Comment):

    …two terms of Barack Obama later, after both McCain and Romney abided by the asymmetrical decorum rules, enough Republicans had had enough and nominated the guy who had make a lack of decorum his trademark over 35 years, and the fact Trump was attacking Democrats in the same manner they had gone after Republicans for years couldn’t be tolerated.

    Not just Democrats. Trump’s accomplishments have made his antics somewhat easier to tolerate, but the vile attacks on people like GWB and Ted Cruz’ father are fresh in my mind. I will always hold him in contempt for those things, just as I will always hold in contempt those who so conveniently “forgot” them.

    The establishment power structure of Democratic politicians, career bureaucrats, the media, and even Republicans for whom “It’s not whether you win or lose; it’s how you play the game” apparently is their overriding mantra, decided Trump was so awful America couldn’t even wait until the next election to impeach him, and they also couldn’t wait until he actually did something that rose to the level of impeachment to do it. They rationalized that because Trump was bad it was OK to do bad things to remove him from power…

    I suspect it looks the same from the other side: Republicans rationalized that the Dems are so bad that it was okay to elect Trump as a thug surrogate. We’ll see if things continue to escalate post-Trump or not. As I’m fond of saying, things can only get better… unless they get worse.

    • #22
    • February 17, 2020, at 8:32 AM PST
    • 1 like
  23. Freeven Member
    Freeven Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Stad (View Comment):

    Freeven: all of us are in favor of drastically reducing the size and scope of the federal government.

    This is how you do it – reduce the overall size by not replacing workers on a one for one basis after people retire or leave. Once a department reaches the point it can only keep its vital programs going, then you can level things out. This has the added benefit of forcing agencies to decide what scope to cut. If an agency dropped an engineering program in favor of its diversity council, you fire the manager who made the decision and promote someone who will fix the mistake.

    I don’t disagree with the remedy. I just don’t see how it comes about. Many have noted that the Dems have lurched hard to the left, but the Right has shifted leftward as well. I’m not encouraged by the trend.

    • #23
    • February 17, 2020, at 8:37 AM PST
    • 1 like
  24. Freeven Member
    Freeven Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    CJ (View Comment):

    DonG (skeptic) (View Comment):
    Bring back transparency.

    The first step to government transparency is to abolish the secret ballot. As Lysander Spooner points out, you can’t hold your neighbors responsible for their votes if you don’t know how they voted.

    Neither can you bully your neighbors into voting the way you want if you don’t know how they voted.

    • #24
    • February 17, 2020, at 8:40 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  25. Freeven Member
    Freeven Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Kephalithos (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment): Please point to the exact clause in the US Constitution (Articles I-III, only) by which your department/job is authorized. Until your response is received and approved, you may want to be sending resumes out to the private sector.

    On second thought, don’t bother. The private sector probably doesn’t want you.

    Drastic cuts, far from solving our political problems, would produce a massive class of overeducated and unemployable people who’d no doubt channel their rage into radicalism. In other words, there is no winning. We have two options: death by smothering, or death by destabilizing political warfare.

    I’ve long suspected that our “last, best hope” lie in colonizing space and setting the “experiment” up fresh.

    • #25
    • February 17, 2020, at 8:42 AM PST
    • 1 like
  26. Kephalithos Member

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Kephalithos (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Kephalithos (View Comment):
    Drastic Friedman-esque cuts, far from solving our political problems, would produce a massive class of overeducated and unemployable people…

    Nah, just send them to countries we don’t like. “How would you like to go to China?”

    As a member of that unemployable class, I think I can speak for my fellow useless Americans: Mass suicide is preferable to China.

    France? Germany? Belgium! They have chocolate and lots of government and bureaucracies.

    Good point. Perhaps it’s time to start learning French.

    Hon-hon-hon. Sacré bleu!

    • #26
    • February 17, 2020, at 8:43 AM PST
    • 1 like
  27. Freeven Member
    Freeven Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Stad (View Comment):

    I Walton (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    Freeven: all of us are in favor of drastically reducing the size and scope of the federal government.

    This is how you do it – reduce the overall size by not replacing workers on a one for one basis after people retire or leave. Once a department reaches the point it can only keep its vital programs going, then you can level things out. This has the added benefit of forcing agencies to decide what scope to cut. If an agency dropped an engineering program in favor of its diversity council, you fire the manager who made the decision and promote someone who will fix the mistake.

    You’re assuming they can know what relative and effective (for the nation as a whole) objectives might be. They can’t.

    Actually, we do know. Well, my agency (DOE) did. Techincal agencies and the military have lots of hard core missions that involve more than simply transferring money from A to B (like welfare payments). But you’re right. Any agency unable to decide what’s hot and what’s not will need external direction . . .

    I’ve sometimes fantasized about a system in which every law passed by Congress came with a looming expiration date, so each new Congress would be forced to review and recommit to each authorization. If nothing else, perhaps it would keep them so busy chasing their tails that they couldn’t foist more mischief upon us. 

    • #27
    • February 17, 2020, at 8:47 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  28. Barfly Member

    One thing that occurs to me is to leverage PDT’s one undeniable long term success. The organized right should start bringing cases to court. Lots of cases, hundreds of them.

    Sure, we need the legislature too. But the last time we held the House it was still too full of Rynos. The Senate is in better shape with the departure of Flake and Corker, but still shaky. Nobody knows which way the Principled Witches of the North will turn in any particular situation. We do know that Good Mitt Romney will betray us, the better to teach us to be Good in His image. My point is that holding the legislature and changing the situation by changing the law is all well and good, but that’s not how things are done in government anymore and hasn’t been for some time.

    Most of the chains the left has forged for us required executive and/or judicial activism. We’re going to hold the executive for another five years, and I think we’ll hold the courts for a generation. That’s where we break them.

    • #28
    • February 17, 2020, at 9:14 AM PST
    • Like
  29. Jon1979 Lincoln

    Freeven (View Comment):

    Jon1979 (View Comment):

    …two terms of Barack Obama later, after both McCain and Romney abided by the asymmetrical decorum rules, enough Republicans had had enough and nominated the guy who had make a lack of decorum his trademark over 35 years, and the fact Trump was attacking Democrats in the same manner they had gone after Republicans for years couldn’t be tolerated.

    Not just Democrats. Trump’s accomplishments have made his antics somewhat easier to tolerate, but the vile attacks on people like GWB and Ted Cruz’ father are fresh in my mind. I will always hold him in contempt for those things, just as I will always hold in contempt those who so conveniently “forgot” them.

    That’s what I meant by the end of the non-asymmetrical behavior requirement. Trump’s dad was big into the Brooklyn Democratic Party machine, and his son dealt with Democrats for four decades in the bare knuckles world of NYC politics. GOP voters decided in 2016 they wanted a Republican who behaves like a Democrat.

    Now that that’s in place, whether or not we get to a point of detente through Mutually Assured Destruction remains to be seen. The sticking point there is while it might be in the Democrats’ interest eventually to join with Republicans in lowering the temperature, it’s not in the media’s interest to do so. Now that so many of the outlets have decided to be niche products attempting to build an audience of loyal partisan readers and viewers, it’s not financially helpful for the two parties to tone down the rhetoric (and while you can lump Fox News’ prime-time lineup and talk radio in on the right side of that equation, were talking more here about news outlets on the left who over the past 30 years have more and more blurred the line between regular news and opinion in supposed news stories. As long as they stay hyperpartisan from the left in their news reports, the right’s going to keep wanting pols who fight back).

    • #29
    • February 17, 2020, at 9:24 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  30. CJ Coolidge
    CJ

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Freeven (View Comment):
    If I can mince words, I don’t think power corrupts. The corruption is always there; power just reveals it.

    Agreed.

    Right. Power is not the source of human corruption. It was already there. But the kind of power matters in how that corruption is revealed and amplified. A coercive monopoly on power–one which we are forbidden to question or resist–is especially dangerous. I think this is what Lord Acton meant when he observed that absolute power corrupts absolutely.

    Freeven (View Comment):

    CJ (View Comment):

    DonG (skeptic) (View Comment):
    Bring back transparency.

    The first step to government transparency is to abolish the secret ballot. As Lysander Spooner points out, you can’t hold your neighbors responsible for their votes if you don’t know how they voted.

    Neither can you bully your neighbors into voting the way you want if you don’t know how they voted.

    I take “bully” here to mean “threaten” or “intimidate.” Is that fair? (The word “bully,” like “racism,” is used for such a broad range of activities–from threats to social shaming to insults–as to be fairly useless.) If you were to threaten your neighbors for their vote (which is of course wrong), it would at least have the virtue of being out in the open. This is in contrast to majoritarian rule, whereby your neighbors can threaten you in complete anonymity via their supposed proxies in State. When the State bullies you, Nobody is responsible, and the State is responsible to Nobody, as it is by design impossible to trace to which specific persons the State is acting on behalf of.

    • #30
    • February 17, 2020, at 9:46 AM PST
    • Like