Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Editorials: Where I rant to the wall about politics. And sometimes the wall rants back.

Catch-22 government

Jerry Stratton, December 10, 2013

The catch-22 of politics is that you can’t trust anybody who wants political power. Someone like Sarah Palin garners a lot of trust today because she doesn’t want to be a politician, and so people want her to run. But if she were to acquiesce and run for office, she’s no longer trustworthy, because at that point she wants political power.

So much of government is catch-22. Politicians create problems, and then politicians and the media cry for more government to solve those problems. Their solution: more of the same, bigger and harder. Government is uniquely unqualified to govern, because those who win elections are likely to be those who believe that government is the solution to every question.

  • Government policies cause health care costs to rise dramatically, discouraging personal policies and personal choice in favor of employer-managed and controlled policies. The artificial rise in health costs is used as an excuse for government-managed and controlled health insurance that, itself, causes health care and health insurance costs to rise even more, which in turn results in media calls for fully-socialized health care.
  • Government drug and social policies cause a rise in violent crime, which in turn results in calls for gun control laws which either create a nexus for catastrophic violence (gun-free zones) or allow the violent to prey on the week (waiting periods and other means of discouraging at risk individuals to take self-defense seriously), which causes media-friendly violence to rise, which in turn heightens the call for more gun control which will either do nothing to stop the tragedies like the one used as an excuse for more gun control, or even will make such tragedies more likely.
  • Government prohibitions—beer, the coca leaf, the poppy—result in the twisted combination of high-strength derivatives and dangerous adulterations that plague the prohibition market. The new higher-strength and dangerously adulterated drugs—ginger jake, bathtub gin, crack, heroin—are themselves used to justify more punitive prohibitions against the lesser forms, which in turn results in a more violent drug trade, which in turn proves that the drugs cause violence and results in more punitive laws. Whenever you see news reports, in the wake of polls showing greater acceptance of marihuana, that marihuana is 10 times more powerful than it was thirty years ago, remember: if true this is likely because of prohibition. Alcohol prohibition resulted in stronger forms of alcohol; repealing it has resulted in people slowly switching back to beer and wine. When I go out to Nunu’s and drink Singapore slings, I’m being retro. Beer and wine are the drinks of the day.
  • Government bodies make traffic laws—under-posted speed limits, differential speed limits, red light camera laws—that demonstrably make driving less safe. The accidents caused by those laws are used as justification to double down on those laws.

Besides being naturally pre-disposed to thinking in terms of government solutions, part of the problem is that law-makers are out of touch with those who have to suffer under the laws they make. Congress doesn’t have to suffer under the health takeover that they imposed on us, despite the law requiring that they do. Lawmakers also receive free bodyguards and immediate access to police response. Journalists don’t have to live in the ghetto or in other high-risk places where self-defense is necessary. Government workers often don’t even have to suffer legal consequences when they drive safely with the flow of traffic.

Another part of the problem is, as Thomas Sowell describes in The Vision of the Anointed, that the people creating these laws believe good intentions trump systemic processes. It doesn’t matter that a law doesn’t do what they said it was going to do. The law had good intentions, and we just need to make the law stronger and apply it more broadly. Failure is rarely the result of failed policy—you can still find people who think that alcohol prohibition remains a good idea. It failed only because bad people didn’t believe strongly enough.

Further, politicians are socially isolated. They live among other people who believe in intentions over reality and who are isolated from the consequences of the laws they make.

Isolation is a solvable problem. Government is no longer necessary. Not, that is, governments by isolated lawmakers and interpreters. There is nothing legitimate that requires senators, representatives, and judges to congregate together in the same place; all of their legitimate functions can be handled from their home districts and states. We have the technology to safely vote over the internet. To securely discuss issues over the internet.

There is no longer any reason to have a capital city except cocktail parties and K Street. Catch-22 is one hell of a catch, but there are ways to weaken it.

  1. <- Postal AT&T
  2. Second Chance ->