Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Frightened animals beset on all sides

Thailand's former Prime Minister has been found guilty of corruption for facilitating, “his wife's purchase of lucrative Bangkok real estate from a state agency in 2003,” and sentenced to two years in prison. Of course, they'll have to get their hands on him first since he fled the country months ago. This may sound somewhat familiar.

If you recall, Senator Ted Stevens is still defending himself against accusations that he failed to pay for a quarter million dollars in home furnishings. His defense is that the items involved in the renovations were put there against his will, and that they were just loans. “We have lots of things in our house that don't belong to us.” Of course. When you put it that way, it makes perfect sense. You can find more of this ridiculous argument here. Apparently politicians around the world share at least some similiarities of philosophy.

It's important to apply some objective logic to the argument in favor of central authority. If people are so corrupt that they need to be governed, then how can you possibly justify putting those same people in power over others. If greed and avarice are so pervasive that voluntary self governance is impossible, then how can one justify the idea of governing over others? The very arguments they use to justify the need for central authority are self defeating and contradictory. And even a cursory look at the history of government corruption shows that. Never forget Lord Acton.

I've spent some time recently discussing the issues in the voting system. Here you can find an article about a dead goldfish receiving voter registration papers. Here you can find an article which mentions in passing how election officials in Palm Beach county, remember them, they were at the heart of the 2000 election recount, recently lost 3,500 votes in a judicial election. Or rather, as County Administrator Brad Merriman puts it, “They weren't lost. They were in the warehouse. They just were never counted.” Oh, never counted. That builds faith in the voting process.

Of course, some people are suggesting that we could fix many of the problems with the current process by which Presidents are elected by simply eliminating the electoral college. In this article proponents argue that the electoral college is unfair because one person could win the popular vote and still not be elected president. The counter argument is that a popular vote in urban centers would leave rural voters at the whim of their city dwelling brethren. So no matter how the vote is tallied, some people will always be ruled over by other people who do not share their beliefs, desires, or goals, and will be forced to act against their will by force. Perhaps it is time to scrap the system.

Americans are scared. They don't understand what's going on, because they were never properly educated. Just like everything else, the government does a lousy job of that too. Ask the teachers themselves. How often do they have to supplement the curriculum? How often do they have to buy supplies with their own money? How often do kids fail classes, only to be advanced by administrators so that they won't feel bad? It's not the fault of the educators, it's the fault of the system itself. People aren't taught to be rational, so they act on emotion. People aren't taught to be logical, so they don't question what they're told. People aren't taught to apply sequential reasoning so they don't think about the future consequences of today's decisions.

So they're scared. And it's understandable. And equally understandably, they're hoarding food, gold, and guns. Because the animal part of them knows that as security decreases, they may at some point be on their own. They may have to feed themselves. They may have to defend themselves. And the money they use to barter with may lose its value.

So while the candidates continue to waste time discussing how they'll fix the problem, and the government continues to waste resources pursuing non-violent trivialities as though they were serious criminal offenses, things get worse and worse.

Liberals like those at the Huffington Post believe that McCain can't possibly make things better, and conservatives say Obama can't be anything but a failure.

Is it possible they could both be right?


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