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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

American government's fatal flaw: unacknowledged self-interest

Suppose you were the judge of a case where the defendant was married to your daughter, would you recuse yourself? Suppose you were on a local zoning board, and your brother who owns residential property near a commercial area wants to rezone his property so he can build a convenience store. Would you abstain from the vote, or at least acknowledge the conflict of interest? What if you knew or strongly suspected that your public sector colleague was accepting bribes from a variety of shady operators? Would you blow the whistle even though it would threaten your lucrative position and life-time sinecure? I ask these questions because they strike at the heart of the fatal flaw in our system of government. That fatal flaw is unacknowledged self-interest.

Why do those who seek power in government, do so? If you ask them, they will give you some asinine fairy-tale about how they just want to serve their fellow man. Really? You just want to serve? That's why you held out your tin-cup, begging for campaign donations and that's why you spent thousands, or tens of thousands, or millions? Because you just want to make life better for all of us? It wasn't for you; it was for us?

The politician interrupts the lives of many people in his pursuit of power. Whether it's television, or radio, or yard-signs, or door-to-door campaigners, people are employed by the campaign or they campaign for free, all to beg for money to help this one person become the designated servant he so desires to be. Private citizens are nagged, bothered, cajoled, and frightened into taking out their checkbooks and donating money that they could have spent on themselves or saved for the kids' college or for a rainy day. Looking back on an election campaign, especially the 2012 Presidential campaign is much like looking back on the trail of destruction left in the wake of a disastrous tornado. Instead of buildings being ripped apart however, it's families and lives. Perhaps I overstate the case. If so, it's not by much. Remember that regardless of what politicians may claim, at the very root of their pursuit of power you will find the dark seed of self-interest.

The way the private sector operates is a little bit like that but with one major difference. If you ask the CEO of KFC—Parent Corporation: Yum! Brands—David Novak, why he wanted to be the Chief Executive Officer of a major corporation do you think he'd say it's because he just wants to make our lives better? He sought power for the same reason Romney did, self-interest. The difference is that Romney wants us to believe he only did it for us.

On the Republican side, the rise to power ends finally with a highly paid position as a lobbyist. The lobbyist is a former congressman who is now a paid executive and he represents his corporation. He's given the corporate credit-card and told to go buy some congressional votes from his former colleagues. It's a nice gig I suppose for those who've got it, underhanded and dirty as hell though it is. To you lobbyists, I've got news for you in case you didn't know: if you're buying votes, you're paying for them with Satan's money.

The Democrats also are part of a corrupt system where votes are bought and sold. Theirs is an even more corrupt system if you can imagine it. In addition to the corrupt lobbying system, Democrats are even further purchasable by the Public sector union industry. These unions offer campaign cash as well as "volunteer" campaign workers to help get the politician elected. Once he is, they'll support him every election cycle for as long as he keeps voting for higher pay and more lavish benefits for public sector union workers. When I say lavish benefits I'm talking about absolutely free health-care, eye-care, and dental benefits. I'm talking about free or nearly free retirement pension plans. I'm talking about twenty-five days a year in paid vacation time. I'm talking about ten paid holidays. I'm talking about free day-cares, rent and mortgage assistance, travel allowances, etc. The list of things they'll think of to give public sector union members grows faster than Pinocchio's nose.

The government isn't just a tick on the body politic, it's now more like a vampire gashing our throats and guzzling unto the last drops of our blood. So finally here's what's going to happen to us all: As America fades and dies, the politicians, the lobbyists, the unions, the public sector workers, they're going to squeeze us and roll us up like you would a nearly empty tube of toothpaste.

There is only one way to save this country: first we must publicly acknowledge that the votes of politicians are bought and sold, routinely. Then we must pass laws that make this out-right bribery a crime. Finally, both the buyers and the sellers on both sides of the vote-trade must be put into prison for their crimes.

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