Monday, September 29, 2008

Stupid Sayings, Vol 2

Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

This is another saying I hate. Power doesn't corrupt. It can reveal corruption, of course.

Here's the thing: If you have power--real, true, genuine power--you don't need to cheat. I've seen the saying amended to "the fear of losing power corrupts", and I think there's a lot more truth to that.

The poor are not especially uncorrupted. A poor person--obviously, as a sheer matter of survival--is more likely to do something against his ethics system. A rich person has all his flaws, and he has the additional weakness of being subject to loss that a destitute person doesn't, but the immediate, actual survival of his body is probably not a fruitful avenue for the universe to attack him.

How does this fit in with my previous post on honesty and the financial mess? Wasn't it power that corrupted those people? No, not at all. They were corrupted long before they ever got into power. And a willingness to be corrupted was most likely how they got into power.


  1. The scariest thing in this whole mess is that you have to accept that just about everyone in charge is untrustworthy. And they're the ones we're expecting to do the cleaning up!

    No way out.

  2. Nope.

    I think one of the most under-looked at elements of Jefferson's philosophy was the idea that past generations should not be able to impose laws on future generations. He recognized this as a form of tyranny, but never worked out how you could "reset" government, short of revolution.

  3. When 9/11 happened (lots of people would ridicule me for saying this), you really could take comfort in the fact that Bush was resolved, and that he acted like it.

    Now, I look at the poor guy, and I really have no faith that the course of action he recommends is any good at all. He doesn't even seem to have any real confidence in it. Scary to have no leadership in such a time of crisis.

    They tell us that the 700 billion is needed, but they've done nothing but prove that they're all horrible stewards of our money and trust. I honesly feel like even if this passes, they'll be asking us for another big bailout in 10-20 years--because they will have squandered everything we gave them. And that goes for the republicans too!!

  4. Well, of course, at this point, it's almost required to poke at Bush, but if you recall at the time there was a HUGE sentiment that we had elected the right guy.

    Remember that joke?

    A husband and wife are watching the footage of the 9/11 attacks and the President's reaction.

    And the wife says, "I'm so glad that Bush won the election."

    And the husband says, "Shut up, Tipper."

    But the awful truth is that war is easier than finance. It's possible to compensate for bad generalship with overwhelming force. There isn't enough money in the universe to compensate for bad financial stewardship.


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