Sunday, August 31, 2008

Yet more thuggery

This time from the other guys.

7 comments:

Pastor_Jeff said...

Criminy. What in the heck has happened to the 1st Amendment in this country, why are both parties so quick to shut down opposition, and why do we put up with it?

Randy said...

Civil liberties are in decline no matter which party holds office IMO.

Icepick said...

What in the heck has happened to the 1st Amendment in this country[?]

The First Amendment was never really a guarantee of Freedom of Speech, or the other enumerated Freedoms. It was a guarantee that we could FIGHT for those freedoms with reasonable expectations of winning them. But like all territory won in combat, it can be lost at a latter time.

[W]hy are both parties so quick to shut down opposition[?]

Think of the political system as an ecological system. Parties are a way for people to eat up the energy of a system, to dominate it for their own ends. When the parties become overly powerful they start choking other feeders out of the system. It's kind of like an algae bloom.

Note that the parties have expended the most effort to make sure that no NEW party can gain an effective foothold in government. Everything from signature laws to campaign finance laws strangle new political parties in the cradle, till nothing but a few fringe groups are left. It's been about 150 years since the last effective new party arose in this country. There are reasons for that.

[W]hy do we put up with it?

Everyone knows you can't fight city hall. Besides, most of us don't know that it could be any other way. And those few of us who DO know that it could be different have either forgotten that, or done some mental calculus and decided it's not worth the personal risk required to change the system. Look at the way Palin is being savaged right now. Does that make you more or less inclined to get involved?

Additionally, our current government has perfected a modern version of the old Roman idea of "Bread and Circuses" to stifle any concept of dissent before it can be born.

Government clatters and clanks along, with the occassional revolutionary change, and most people don't even realize how different things could be. (NOT necessarily better, but sometimes so.) Our modern system has been devised so that once something has been added, it's almost impossible to take it away.

Consider the phone tax meant to pay for the Spanish-American War - that will never be rescinded. Nor will Medicare - Medicare is too big and people believe that [free] healthcare is more of a right than free speech or habeus corpus rights. Welfare could only be reformed because it was, ultimately, small potatoes.

But Medicare will be here until after it finishes wrecking the country, despite the fact that there's plenty of evidence that it has been even more of a disaster than LBJ's other welfare policies. People can't even CONCIEVE of a nation without Medicare.

You know, the only reason our country hasn't gone completely down the crapper is because we live in the Age of Innovation. All of these economic innovations, starting with the early days of the Industrial Revolution continuing through the PC Productivity Boom in the 1990s, have kept us afloat - they've allowed us to pay for our stupid utilization of government. If we lived in a time of fewer innovations, such as in the days of the Roman Empire or China through most of it's long cultural life, we would have already collapsed.

I think that most of the very top of our leadership class has known that in the past, even when they've continued to pursue one stupid policy or another. And I believe that some of the Biggest Shots still do know this. But I don't think most of our elected officials understand this any more. Eventually one of these fools is going to Kill the Goose that Laid the Golden Eggs, and then we'll be sunk.

Obama's energy plan reeks of doing just that, and McCain's is only marginally better. Neither of these fools understands THE central point about innovation: it can't be mandated by legal fiat. The atomic bomb happened because the government poured money into concepts that had already been hashed out. Arguably one could argue that the central concept was E = Mc^2, which had been 'discovered' around 1905, and that all the physical theory from then until 1938 had simply been working out the details. That's over simplifying a bit TOO much, but it's closer to the truth than the idea that "The Manhattan Project" created something new simply because the government commanded that it be so. The ideas had already been developed - all the government did was supply the funding to work out the details. This is something Tom Friedman, for one, can't seem to grasp.

Both candidates also stink on healthcare policy, which is likely the other big chance to kill the Golden Goose. And I don't even want to think about the level of stupidity in the current Congress, both collectively and individually. At this point I think I would prefer to have the crooks Delay and Lott back in charge, as they were somewhat less dangerous than the Dumb-assed Duo Pelosi and Reid. It's especially bad because Pelosi and Reid are also a couple of crooks. Of course, if I found out that there was a Senator or Congressman that WASN'T on the personal take, then I'd wonder about the stupidity of that person - surely the only reason to get elected these days is to make a few bucks, right?

All in all it's enough to drive a person to drink. Unfortunately for me I prefer sobriety in all cases.

Icepick said...

I probably had enough material for three blog posts in that comment. Typcial. I wrote a nine word post (including the title), and an 880 word comment (not including quotes from Jeff's comment.) I really need to figure out this perspective thing.

Pastor_Jeff said...

Well, they really were rhetorical questions, but your answers were right on, I'd say.

Consider the phone tax meant to pay for the Spanish-American War - that will never be rescinded.

Nope. It will only be expanded, as soon as the Feds figure out they're losing tax revenue from people dropping land lines in favor of dry loop DSL and VOIP. We were paying almost $200/year in taxes and fees on local phone service. I've no doubt Congress and the states will find ways to recoup the dough.

...people believe that [free] healthcare is more of a right than free speech or habeus corpus ... People can't even CONCIEVE of a nation without Medicare.

Probably the truest and scariest thing of all, and related to the above post on political parties and gov't inefficiency.

The ideas had already been developed - all the government did was supply the funding to work out the details.

Didn't Einstein write FDR in '39 or so, mentioning the possibility of a fission bomb? It's not like some guy in Washington came up with the idea, sold it to Congress, and then magical gov't money somehow made the physics happen.

This was the part of the embryonic stem cell debate that was so infuriating. The ridiculously overblown rhetoric about cures right around the corner was knowingly and intentionally dishonest. Yet proponents didn't hesitate to trot out Chris Reeves and promise that he'd walk again if only we'd throw money at the problem.

if I found out that there was a Senator or Congressman that WASN'T on the personal take, then I'd wonder about the stupidity of that person

This is one the hopeful things about Palin. Operating on a smaller stage perhaps means you don't have to make as many compromises to get elected. She appears to have gone into politics with the intent to clean things up. Now, she's still a politician so I'll reserve judgment on her, but for now, she looks promisingly and refreshingly honest (for a pol).

And frankly, she should use that to her advantage on the "troopergate" thing: "Heck, yes, I leaned on the Director to fire him. The trooper was violent, irresponsible, and acted as though he was above the law. People like that won't wear a badge in my administration, and anyone who shields employees like that won't work in my administration."

Icepick said...

Well, they really were rhetorical questions, but your answers were right on, I'd say.

Since I'm now running for office I can't ignore an opportunity to spout off.

Didn't Einstein write FDR in '39 or so, mentioning the possibility of a fission bomb?

That's essentially correct. Leo Szilard is the man who's usually forgotten.

It's not like some guy in Washington came up with the idea, sold it to Congress, and then magical gov't money somehow made the physics happen.

Yeah, but that's how we're going to end our addicition to foreign oil!

Icepick said...

We need those free ponies again.