03 May 2010

Our Rulers: Made of Finer Clay?

Atomic Nerds | LabRat | Of The People, By The People, Unfortunately

No matter how you move the boxes on the org chart around, the government is always people. Smart people, dumb people, uninformed people, drunk people, blue-nosed people, amoral people, ideological people, apathetic people, people just like the people all around you in your neighborhood and at your job whose decisions you normally wouldn’t give any particular credit. [...]

We can’t trust the government to make better decisions than people because it IS people. [...]

If your plan to improve society depends on the right people being in charge of it and will fail utterly or actually make things worse if the wrong people are, the plan is a conceptual failure out of the gate, because not only will the wrong people eventually be in charge, the chances are that you don’t even have the ability to identify the right people from the wrong people when you see them.

[...] But no law or government will ever be able to get around the people problem- it’s not just a flaw in the system, it IS the system. This is not subject to legislation or philosophy.
It's turtles people all the way down.

This is one reason why I, despite being (or perhaps because I am) a humanist, do not fetishize democracy like most of my countrymen.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

If the natural tendencies of mankind are so bad that it is not safe to permit people to be free, how is it that the tendencies of these organizers are always good? Do not the legislators and their appointed agents also belong to the human race? Or do they believe that they themselves are made of a finer clay than the rest of mankind?
— Frederic Bastiat, "The Law"

Free government is founded in jealousy, not confidence... let the honest advocate of confidence read the Alien and Sedition Acts, and say if the Constitution has not been wise in fixing limits to the government it created, and whether we should be wise in destroying those limits... Let no more be heard of confidence in men, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitutions.
— Thomas Jefferson, "The Kentucky Resolutions"

Look at what government has wrought recently and tell me I should be confident in the wisdom and benevolence of our rulers.

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