Framing the Dialogue

Government 101

I have unfortunately been exposed to something from which there is no cure…the writings of intelligent people.  Most of us have read textbooks chock full of ten cent words written by people with lots of initials and abbreviations after their names and we really gain nothing from them.  They are written in a language other than what we speak which I’ll call Intelectish.  The pedestal that these authors put themselves on is so high and they look so far down on us poor, tired, huddled masses that they cannot see what is above them. 

A little over a year ago heard a radio clip of Phil Donohue interviewing Milton Friedman about capitalism and posted about it.  Mr. Friedman is about as unassuming of a man that you could ever see.  His handling of the liberal Donohue is witty, insightful, and accurate.  I came across an excerpt from Free To Choose that boils down government to its essance and wanted to share it.  I paraphrased and modified it into bullet form;

  • A real or fancied evil leads to demands to do something about it. [in today’s political world that would be the “crisis”]
  • A political coalition forms consisting of sincere, high-minded reformers. [I am not as generous as the Friedmans about those folks being so high-minded]
  • Incompatible objectives of the members are glossed over by fine rhetoric about the “public interest” or “fair competition”.
  • The coalition succeeds in getting a law passed.
  • The preamble to the law pays lip service to the rhetoric and the body of the law grants power to the government to “do something.”
  • The high-minded reformers revel in their victory and move on to some other cause.
  • Bureaucracy takes its toll so that even the intial special interests no longer benefit.
  • In the end the effects are precisely the opposite of the original objectives.
  • The activity is so firmly established repeal is impossible.
  • A real or fancied evil caused by the above begets demands to do something about it…[lather, rinse, repeat]

This is something that I was never taught in school and am quite certain that is not being taught today.  Having spent all of my career in and around government in the environmental field I have witnessed this on numerous occasions.  Read the passage again and think about laws that have been recently passed…health care, financial reform, TARP, stimulus, campaign finance reform.  Don’t they all fit this model?  Actually many are worse because many of these “manufactured” the first step.  Most Americans were against or oblivious to these issues.  Yet we are told to wait and see what these two thousand page bills will give us.  Bills that elected officials, who took an oath to protect the Constitution, NEVER ACTUALLY READ! 

Next time someone says “there ought to be a law against that” think about how government will morph a potentially necessary or beneficial concept into a mega-bureacracy often avoiding the cure for the original ailment.

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