Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A Few Thoughts Before a Hiatus

I've decided to take a break for the next few months, both from blogging and from following politics quite as closely as I usually do. I don't anticipate any major policy debates over the next few months; Obama has spent all of his political capital and is deadlocked with the House while Republicans are going to duke it out to see who will challenge him for the White House next year. Of the candidates, I'm inclined to support Perry, but nominations never really held my interest. if something major does spring up, you'll get my two cents worth.

For the last few months, I've been busy trying to find a suitable job and working at borderline minimum wage. This is not exactly conducive to what I wish to do with this blog, as I any free time I did have went to finding better employment. Now, I have been accepted for a short time teaching position but will also be hanging on to the minimum wage job. Working 60 hour weeks plus prep time for class doesn't leave much time for this, either.

Lastly, I have a bunch of projects I wish to focus on, but because I have a bunch of ideas I don't focus on any of them. When it comes to ideas, I'm a kid in a candy store, which isn't helpful for focusing on a long term project. I'm watching The Tudors on Netflix right now. Because of that alone, I'm borderline infatuated with Thomas More (I'll likely pick up Utopia again shortly) and theology. Before that, my intention was (and still is at some point) to figure out the nature of rights and laws. As it stands, I'm not impressed with the Natural Law viewpoint and think libertarianism can be supported with a positivist approach. I have a lot of books queued on the topic. From there, I'm still trying to figure out a just philosophy of foreign policy and of secession, but I think both of those depend on that law and rights idea being hammered out. I also would like to spell out in some detail my thoughts on education. And again, I'm not actually focused on any of these things right now. I think a break will help me clear my mind, get personal things in order, and then I'll try to tackle them.

Before I start that break, however, I wish to outline a problem I see with our democracy. Democracy itself rests on these four assumptions (not exclusively, but each is a necessary requirement):

  1. People know what good government is. The entire idea of democracy is that "The People" will safeguard a good government out of self interest.
  2. People know what the current government is. Can't safeguard your well being without knowing what is happening.
  3. People have the ability to change government for the better. This is all mere prattle if the people cannot actually improve their lot by controlling the government.
  4. People have the will to change government for the better. This may seem like an odd requirement until you are in the minority.
Unfortunately, I don't believe these assumptions hold up in the United States, or really in any modern democracy.

  1. Ask anyone what good government is and you'll probably get a very bad answer. In fact, most will probably say democracy is in and of itself the definition of good government. Democracy is only a means and does not assure that the government will act in a just manner. We're off to a very bad start.
  2. Ask anyone to name the nine Supreme Court Justices of the United States. Or their Senators and Representative. Or their governor. Or the policies or judicial philosophies of any of them. Now see how many government bureaucracies they can name, their roles, powers, who heads them, etc. Even a lot of political wonks will stumble with that latter part, but it is frightening how many average folks couldn't get the easy questions either.
  3. Elections are remarkably imprecise tools for change. The only real check we have on bureaucracies in this nation is electing different officeholders to regulate those bureaucrats. If the current administration won't act against a corrupt office, you basically have to vote to overhaul the entire elected offices in order to change, which may very well change a lot of things in ways the voter doesn't want. I'll give you an example: I hate the idea of a "Bridge to Nowhere" that was proposed by a Republican. My only realistic alternative was to vote Democrat, which is even worse in my opinion. How, then, do "we the people" do anything about corrupt bureaucracies we know little about (in fact, many of which we probably do not even know exist)?
  4. This is classic Federalist 51, of tyranny of the majority. Since this problem hasn't even been close to being solved, not much more needs to be said here.
I don't have much in the way of answering this problem except to say we need an educated and virtuous citizenry to watch a small, limited government. How do to that, I'll leave for another day. The point is, the more you entrust to unknown political entities which we do not have direct control over, the larger the black hole becomes that sucks up knowledge and blinds us to the actions of the rule makers who are supposed to be held accountable to us.

"The People" is a pretty ridiculous concept as a unitary force, but even if it did make sense, I don't see how they could retain mastery over the government for long. We are too often lulled to sleep by the democratic creed. I'm not even implying here that there is some secret cable ruling us from behind the scenes; most of the agencies in that black hole don't know what the other are doing, either.

Anyway, I'm going to go read Les Miserables and clear my mind for a few months. Probably.

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