Don’t Leave Political Reform To Glenn Reynolds

19 Feb

porn and internet libertiesGlenn Reynolds expresses what I find so questionable about libats – that their libertarian criticisms are scattershot, just as cogent or practical as any other interest group’s, and are based on a selective view of history.

Russ: Do you really think, though, that that trend, that there isn’t–don’t you think that’s a long-standing trend in American history, that they don’t trust the government? I think if you ask folks if they trust their own representative in Congress, they say: Congress is a bunch of bums, but not my guy. And they also say the same thing about [?] corporations: My boss is decent; most of them, awful. Isn’t that a common long-standing view of most Americans?

Glenn: To some degree, sure. Our country is literally founded on distrust of government. But Pew does say that the numbers are the worst they’ve been since they’ve been asking the question. So, the trend is not our friend. Trust in the Federal Government is at a historic low. And they say it’s the first time a majority of the public has said the Federal Government threatens their personal rights and freedoms. So I do think there is more than what I would regard as a healthy distrust of government. I think that it goes a bit beyond that. And I think one of the changes–in the column I quoted a science fiction writer named Jerry Pournelle, pretty old, he’s been around a while; and he wrote in 2008, he said:

We have always known that eternal vigilance is the price of freedom. It’s worse now, because capture of government is so much more important than it once was. There was a time when there was enough freedom that it hardly mattered which brand of crooks ran government. That has not been true for a long time—not during most of your lifetimes, and for much of mine—and it will probably never be true again.

And I think that is the reason why distrust in the government is so profound. Now people realize that if the wrong people are in power, they can really screw with you. The government’s got a lot of power; it’s got a lot of reach; it does a lot of things. And it’s no longer a case of the old Chinese proverb: Heaven is high and the emperor is far away. The government is in your face. And, the more powerful the government becomes, the more valuable and prized it is, so the more dirty and underhanded things people are willing to do in order to seize the prize. And the more afraid they become when somebody else has control. So, all of that I think contributes to a rational increase in fear of government that is independent of just a general sense that it’s a bunch of politicians who would sell out their own grandmother.

The Puritans didn’t distrust government, and it’s clear, that when YOU control the State, it’s a damn necessary thing – ask aristocratic Virginians in the seventeenth century. Rewriting the constitution will not happen, regardless of whatever pet economic or technological theory you want to use as the acid. Generally, I think those that want to tear out this piece or that would just sneak in their own advantage somewhere else. That’s why I prefer to expand democratic participation, by reforming districting, campaign finance, making voting easier, and reforming the Senate than subjecting the Federal government to neoclassical economic heresies about efficiency. Let voters decide the issue of the day, not the macro textbook very few college grads it seems actually read. The dirty secret libats like Reynolds don’t want to acknowledge is, that it’s a political economy, stupid!

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