December 9, 2012

Open letter to American liberals

America was forged as a nation out of a legitimate distrust of government.  The The English King was replaced with a government that deliberately was designed to impede its own ability to infringe upon the rights of its citizens and its states.  For many people, over two centuries that distrust of government has ceded ground to a distrust of business - particularly big business.  Perhaps that's because for so long the government has done such a great job of restraining itself because of the decentralized nature of its power structure.

Think about it.  The Constitution has limited the powers of the federal government to those enumerate powers not given to the states.  The rights of citizens and states are paramount.  Further, the government has spread the power out between three branches - executive, legislative and judiciary.  Each have powers distinct from each other, and the legislative branch is split further between the Congress and the Senate.  In order to prevent tampering with the Constitution, the ability to make Amendments requires a really high bar be cleared.

Yet over time the interpretation of the Constitution has been the workaround that has allowed the government to encroach on the liberties of the states and the people of America.  Maybe that doesn't matter to you because you are one of the people who believe that the government has needed to encroach upon the unfettered excess of business that might otherwise take advantage of uninformed, innocent consumers.  Business is inherently dangerous because it will do anything to make money, including breaking the law, cutting corners and being unfair to customers.

But is that a fair portrayal of business?  Businesses are comprised of people making decisions.  So what you believe then is that people are self-interested to the point of being a potential danger to society.  That's a highly debatable point, but let's grant it for now.  People make bad societal decisions out of self-interest.

But it begs a question.  The government, which is supposed to be the overseer of fairness is fundamentally comprised of what?  People.  Business is made up of people and government is made up of people too.  The same self-interested people.  The people in government are not a better breed of altruistic people than everyone else.  They are people too.  They may have different motivations but they are still flawed.

If you work in government, what does self-interest look like? Job security?  Power?  It's not that different than business.

So how is it that you believe that government is immune to the supposed evil that you ascribe to business?  In fact, because government has a much greater 'mass' than business, its capacity for anti-societal decision-making is even greater.  Stalin, Hitler, Idi Amin, and Pol Pot were not business moguls.  They were leaders of governments with overly centralized powers.  The United States has decentralized its decision-making power but the trend over its history has been to re-centralize its powers is undeniable.  Even without fully centralized powers some pretty autocratic decisions get made on a regular basis.

And the power to make gross errors in decisions is especially true when the power resides in those not spending their own money.  That's why you see $2000 toilet seats on the government balance sheet.  That`s true whether the decisions are made by an autocratic cabal with a tiny locus of power or by a vast faceless bureaucracy.  

No one would argue that government has no place in society, but you have granted by commission or omission of action far too much power to the government sector of society.  There is an imbalance.  The inevitable outcome of the trend towards centralized power is Julius Caesar, or Hitler or Stalin.    It`s time you reconsidered your motivation and your vote.

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