Wednesday, February 22, 2006

I Hate Politics

The closest I ever came to a political post on this blog was the Katrina post I did, since I used to be an agency employee and had some insight, but those darned Delians got my hackles up and - well - this pretty much explains my rose-colored glasses word-view.

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"I'm always reluctant to get into these kinds of discussions, because I usually find myself as a minority of one when other artists are involved. It's going to take me a while to make this point, so be patient or delete this e-mail now.

In a nutshell, I believe that a libertarian society with the least amount of government and as free a market as possible allows for the most fair, orderly, and natural system of social stratification. People may be born equal under the law and with respect to natural rights, but levels of talent and ambition vary widely.

For example; left to their own devices, people with extraordinary ambition, talent, and success in the areas of commerce and politics will support "the arts" without the government's prodding, because those types of people are the primary consumers for high art: I see no reason for any governmental support for what we do, since the world does not owe us a living just because we create music, and telling Joe Six-Pack that some of his hard earned money must be skimmed off of his taxes to support something he may not understand, like, or even approve of is decidedly unfair. Many "serious" artists think that we are somehow "special" and deserve grants and such - and, so long as those grants come from private foundations and not the government, that is perfectly fine (And people who want to will have more money to contribute to those kinds of things if the government would only end the idiotic policy of taxing productivity (income) instead of only consumption (spending): You want people to save more money Mr. Government Man? Then end the larcenous practice of taxing income and only tax spending. You know - as the founding fathers of this country intended.) - but I see artists as just another cog in a free market machine: We provide a service, and that is entertainment. That those of us with altruistic musical goals receive less compensation than mass-appeal pop stars is just the market at work, and there is nothing inherently unfair about it. In fact, that is a fine example of truly objective fairness. Call it social or economic Darwinism if you want, but it is objectively fair. Heartlessly so, but I'll take heartless and objective fairness to some activist politician's idea of fairness any hour of the day, any day of the week, any week of the month, any month of the year, any year of my life. What I do appeals to a smaller audience that what Steve Vai does: Since I provide my entertainment service for a smaller group of people than he does, I get compensated less accordingly. I'm OK with that, because it's perfectly and objectively fair.

The citizen is not the responsibility of the government, it is the other way around: The government is the responsibility of the citizen. When you upset this natural arrangement, you end up with myriad social ills. And they are that exactly: Illnesses that afflict the citizenry. The glue that binds communities together is interdependence: I need the food Joe sells, and he needs the entertainment I provide (To be simplistic about it), and so we have a symbiotic social relationship. Communities left to their own devices are also effectively self-policing where matters of conscience are concerned. You may not like that idea, but it has been a natural fact since man first identified with tribe. When the government interferes with this social symbiosis, this self-policing and the resultant self-restraint mechanisms fail to function. To take the most brutal example I can think of: You want to end teenage pregnancy and absentee fathering? End all forms of welfare (For the mother and the child), and force the communities to deal with their own behavioral problems. Since it has been generations now since people were compelled to do that - and they have forgotten how to as a result - it wouldn't be pretty, but it would happen, and the community would be better off for it in the long run. That more people don't equate welfare with slavery or at least servitude never ceases to amaze me. Welfare - each and every form of it - is social poison. It is a malefactor that acts as an infective agent to a community, and it creates the disease it purports to treat. What were once just a series of societal bouts with influenza have now become a chronic viral infection that can only be managed by the welfare programs that created it, but not cured by them. When the government effectively isolates people - makes them moral islands unto themselves - many other attendant social ills appear that range all the way from simple rudeness to petty theft, larceny, and even murder. Unfortunately, there is no glue binding most communities together anymore, because the government has dissolved it. Government grants to artists are welfare.

The primary responsibility of government is merely to protect the environment the citizens require to thrive. Number one on the list of ways that is accomplished would be by protecting the integrity of the borders. Living seventy miles north of the Rio Grande, I can assure you that our current government is an abject and utter failure in this area. Number two on that list would be to protect the country (Its land and infrastructure) from foreign aggressors. The US has the most overwhelmingly awesome military supremacy the world has ever known, and our citizens are probably better armed than some country's armies are, so I don't worry about - say - the Nicaraguan Army marching into Alpine, but I believe that a small group of well-financed terrorists could sneak in here and level the place with minimal resistance if it was a priority for them. I'm sorry, but that really, really, really pisses me off. I mean really. Really, really. For real. There is no excuse for that being the case. There is a reason, however. That reason is the right's fear of being labeled as racist, and the left's eagerness to label everybody who disagrees with them as racist. I call bullshit. On both sides. I have no dog in this fight, because I think both parties are equally idiotic, but the Democrats are certainly more equal. OK, much more equal.

As far as the law is concerned, I'm a Jeffersonian (Well, all of the founding fathers would be called radical libertarians in today's political environment, so I guess you could call me an originalist... or the epithet of your choosing). Tommy had a way with words:

"The legitimate powers of government reach actions only and not opinions" - Thomas Jefferson to Danbury Baptists, 1802

I find this quotation's situational birth to be highly ironic, because in my experience Baptists are the most small-minded and authoritarian-oriented of all Christian denominations. Yes, I live in a dry county in Texas. Yes, I'm a Missouri Synod Lutheran.

But this is my favorite, and it says it all:

"The error seems not sufficiently eradicated that the operations of the mind as well as the acts of the body are subject to the coercion of the laws. But our rulers can have authority over such natural rights only as we have submitted to them. The rights of conscience we never submitted, we could not submit. We are answerable for them to our God (I don't have a dog in this fight, but I do have a God in this fight - Ed.). THE LEGITIMATE POWERS OF GOVERNMENT EXTEND TO SUCH ACTS ONLY AS ARE INJURIOUS TO OTHERS. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg." - Thomas Jefferson: Notes on Virginia Q.XVII, 1782. ME 2:221

Read that ten times through. I double-dog-dare you. Now, explain to me how it's some cop's business whether I wear my seat-belt or not. Or if I use my turn signal or not. Or if I go out and have a few beers and drive home (So long as I get myself home safely). Or if I want to drive 85 on an open stretch of the interstate. It's not. That's a fact, not my opinion. Now, I wear my seat-belt because I think it's a good idea. I don't go faster than 70 or 75 because I drive a large off-road 4X4 pickup truck that really doesn't want to go any faster than that. When I ride my motorcycles, it's armored jacket, armored pants, armored boots, armored gloves, and a full-face one-piece helmet. My decision. My choice. I have no problem with Joe Harley wearing shorts, a t-shirt, a pair of Birkenstocks, and a pair of Oakleys when he rides if he wants, and if he also perches his SO in a dental-floss bikini behind him, but I'm surely free to opine that he is an abject idiot for so doing, and she even more so for being with such a dim-bulb.

Basically, we no longer have "a government of the people, by the people, and for the people" in THESE United States (THE United states is both grammatically and conceptually incorrect): We have a government of the lawyers, by the lawyers, and for the lawyers. Let's face it - some genuinely nice, good, and decent guys like Hugh Hewett excepted - but lawyers as a group tend to be the lowest form of human life on earth. There is nothing honorable or altruistic about what they do; their job is a necessary evil, and that's all. As I like to say (Only half-jokingly); "If the love of money is the root of all evil, then lawyers ARE the love of money." Of course, William Shakespeare has the all-time greatest "only half-joking" quotation concerning lawyers: "First, let's kill all the lawyers." Note that he says "First": It's the number-one priority. I just freaking love that. The situation in this country today is that all of the laws are made by lawyers. Just look at the composition of the state houses and the congress: It's all lawyers with a few tokens. Having lawyers making laws is EXACTLY like having a wolf as a sheepdog. They make laws that benefit lawyers, not the general citizenry. In fact, they make laws that allow lawyers to predate upon the general citizenry.

It is an obvious and blatant conflict of interest to have lawyers involved in the lawmaking process IN ANY CAPACITY (Even as "advisors" because you know what they will advise: "Write it so that nobody will understand it but a lawyer; that way they'll have to hire one!"). If the founding fathers would have known that their legal profession would devolve in to it's current mob of ambulance-chasing shysters, they certainly would have barred (Ha, ha. Get it?) them from serving in the legislative branch. Which is obviously what ought to be done. Can you actually watch any congressional or senatorial proceedings on C-SPAN without getting the feeling that those people are abjectly vile? I get nausea to the point of nearly vomiting watching those evil bastards. It's like massive carnage that you just can't look away from until you must. For me, anyway.

So, you can boycott Yahoo or Google or bitch about Dubai owning American ports, or Wal-Mart going to the dogs since Sam died if you want; that is certainly your bee's-wax, and not mine. Personally, I'd just be happy if more people were aware of the fundamentals here in THIS country. The US had great promise, and a bunch of ass-hats in the congress and the senate flushed it down the crapper. It would also be nice if 85% of all government agencies were dissolved and 85% of all lawyers and cops were out of bee's-wax.

What's the solution? F*** if I know. I'm just a scuzz-bucket guitarist. I just look on from a persistent vegetative state of amazed bewilderment... and feel somehow above it all.

P.S. Thomas Jefferson also said, "My grandfather was a farmer, so that my father could be a businessman, so that I could be a lawyer, so that my son could be a poet." No greater economy of expression has ever been brought to bear on the American Dream. Pardon the conceit, but I am - in spirit, anyway - the son Jefferson wished he would have had (And one of my grandfathers was a farmer: The other was first baseman for the Chicago Whitesox).

Holy mackerel! It's four-thousand o'-freaking-clock in the dad-burned morning!!!

So yes, I think we should move to an independent site and ditch Yahoo. ROTFL!!!

George

Ars longa, vita brevis: Carpe diem!"


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OK. So there is probably at least one law office I wouldn't mind visiting.

2 Comments:

Blogger dulciana said...

You know, I'm still undecided about this issue, but I'm leaning in your direction. I served a couple of years on a state arts council - went into the experience full of idealism about the value of govt. funding of the arts. By the end of my time on the council, I was disgusted by the degree of politics involved in every decision we made. We funded quite a few endeavors not because of the program or artist's value to the community, but because they happened to be in the voting district of a politician whose favor we wanted to curry. On the other hand, we did support some community programs that I felt were very valuable in providing educational opportunities that would increase the public's knowledge of and desire for more of the same, therefore creating a public that would be more likely to support the arts in a free market context. Here's the irony - in many of these communities, the need for those community arts programs existed because of the lack of arts education in the (government-funded) public schools. I suspect that if we took even half of the money that the government doles out every year and invested it in supporting quality arts education in the public schools - paying teachers attractive salaries and providing them with sufficient equipment and materials, we might not need additional government funding to keep the arts flourishing in communities.

9:53 AM  
Blogger Hucbald said...

I worked for the federal government for a few years. Same story: Filled with idealism at the beginning, disgusted by the politics by the end. I worked in a lot of neighborhoods most... well, most middle class white kids who grew up in the 'burbs never, ever see. Meething these victims of the welfare system gave me an appreciation for the principle of unintended consequences. You might THINK you are helping people with handouts, but you're not. Welfare programs of all kinds are degrading and demeaning, and government grants artists are no different.

9:22 PM  

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