Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Reset Button

Freeman Hunt talks about slavery and the stimulus here, prompting me to continue puzzling over the concept of "test-driven" government.

One of the great regrets Thomas Jefferson had--and consequently we've all had, whether we know it or not--was that he could never figure out how to make a reset button. He didn't phrase it in those terms, obviously, but he was quite concerned about the tyranny of older generations upon the younger.

Rather prescient, if you ask me.

Seventy-years ago, the so-called "greatest" generation voted in an alleged pension plan which allocated the wealth of the young to the old. This Ponzi scheme continues to be sold on the notion of "we'll steal from our children, then you can steal from yours"--a plan which probably looked a lot better while the nation was undergoing a baby boom.

Of course, a lot of things happened 70 years ago that essentially ended the American Experiment and put us all on the hook for things like the impending "stimulus" bill. People had been made desperate enough by the consequences of bad governance that they were willing to accept more and more governance.

With the schools safely in the government's hands, a fondness--a romanticization, even--of state-driven solutions necessarily grew and flourished.

All of them require enslavement of future generations.

Yes, that sounds more dramatic than it actually is. The truth is a banal slouch toward socialism, which itself is a half-hearted communism. Somewhere along the path, war will intervene--which Freeman posits will be against one of our creditors, but I wouldn't rule out revolution. After all, the old and infirm members of our society are essentially robbing the young and healthy. Talk about a slam dunk!

It doesn't have to happen this way, of course, and it may not in our lifetimes or even in our children's. We could elect, theoretically, a super-Reagan type: Someone who was absolutely dedicated to tearing down the various enslavements; someone who was more dedicated to that proposal than having a second term; someone who wasn't afraid of being assassinated.

It seems like a long-shot.

We could get a series of Reagan-lites, though. One might have thought that the success of welfare reform--which Democrats are quick to attribute to Clinton, but quicker to try to undo--would have taught the ruling class something, but there seems to be no point--no fire in the belly--for candidates who would make themselves and their peers less powerful.

So, this also seems like a longshot. Especially when the only party that considers it even a valid approach only considers it valid when they're out of power.

A lot of people fault Bush for not vetoing more when the Reps were in power, but in fact, the Rep Congress should've been busy tearing things down and stopping the President. That's really why they were elected. That whole Contract With America thing--the very line of thinking that gave the Reps their first majority in my lifetime--if they'd stuck to it, they'd still be in charge, and we wouldn't be looking at the current crisis in the same way.

W was barely elected in the first place, and mostly as the anti-Gore. It was Congress that had the mandate and Congress that screwed it up.

And all for the want of a reset button. If only we could establish that laws passed only applied to those who passed them! "Every generation needs a revolution," Jefferson said. What would be nice is to figure out how to completely clean house and start from scratch, maybe every ten years. Erase all Federal law. Maybe relocate the capital in a random spot.

It wouldn't work, of course. Plenty of laws have timeouts and they're just re-upped without a single debate. Maybe if our representatives were chosen at random?

It's the same problem I have with the whole test-driven concept: in code, we have very simple tests and objective answers about what right answers to particular inputs are to be. In politics, I see people looking at "3 + 4 = 6" and yelling that six is the right answer, and that seven is an oppressive neocon Jewish-controlled conspiracy.

I don't know. I've never been able to crack this nut, even with the benefit of 200 years of hindsight Jefferson didn't have. Though sometimes I wonder if the American Confederacy didn't have the right idea.


  1. *sigh*

    I keep going back to this to give me hope.

    The stimulus passing has me really depressed. I am honestly more worried than I was when the Iraq War was going badly and I was afraid we would pull out. I am more worried for my country than at any time I can remember, excepting 9/11. But even that seemed like a "solvable" problem ... I don't see how this one gets solved, outside of your and Freeman's predictions: war or revolution.


  2. Yes, I keep thinking about the '70s, when it seemed like Communism was inevitable. Wage controls and price fixing seem almost inconceivable today (but maybe that's just me, maybe others would welcome it).

    And then I think of the last time I despaired this much and it was when Hilary was hell-bent for health care.

    My main concern is that they'll continue to rig elections. I don't think it mattered that much this time, but the system can be broken. In fact, like many of our systems, it's predicated on people being mostly honest.

  3. And then I think of the last time I despaired this much and it was when Hillary was hell-bent for health care.

    This was my worry when it looked like it was predestined for H. to win the nomination. Now that seems like a lark! I'm afraid we've ended up with much worse.

    Have you seen this? It's like something out of a movie. I can't even tell if I'm supposed to take it seriously! Can it be true?

  4. I did see it, but I confess I don't understand it.

    I truly think centralization is the enemy here. The whole "too big to fail" thing has to be choked out.

    One reason I think this recession doesn't have to be as bad as the Depression is because we have a much more diverse economy. A lot of people work for themselves or small businesses.

    That's something we need to duplicate across every level of the system: you can compare it terrorist cells, if you like.

    The CPISA is a good example of how government doesn't get how the economy works and will try to strangle the little guy.


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