29 October 2008

Morning dose of wisdom

... courtesy of Matt Welch, writing in the Los Angeles Times:
The Mission Viejo ordinance is a timely reminder of a perennial rule about governance: Whatever tool is used by government to pursue a goal you cherish will inevitably be deployed in a cause or manner you abhor. There are, as far as I'm aware, no exceptions.
Hear, hear!

Welch provides but a few examples:
So, Bill Clinton sidesteps the United Nations to launch a war against a country (Serbia) that poses no threat to the U.S. (good, if you supported it), but then George Bush turns around and uses that lowered bar to invade Iraq (bad, even though it was on much firmer international/legal footing than the Kosovo intervention). Labor favors secret ballots for union elections to thwart intimidation and pressure tactics (good), then labor favors abolishing secret ballots for union elections to, uh, thwart intimidation and pressure tactics (good?). Richard Nixon, in an act of vengeance against the Washington Post (bad), helps create the newspaper/TV station cross-ownership ban, which former Nixon-haters eventually embrace as a last stand for "people of color, the working class and rural citizens" (good perfect).
Call it the Proliferation Postulate: Once you create a new tool for the state to wield it is only a matter of time before it falls into the "wrong" hands.

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