Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Regular Maintenance

Term limits. Hard money. Making service in government a hardship posting. All these ideas have I heard uttered across the wookiesphere. Government is the enemy, To get involved in it is to be inevitably and irreversibly tainted, and the people involved need to be changed out automatically and rapidly. And I scratch my head.

Government can be a terribly oppressive force, often with the best of intentions; that stuff they pave the road to hell with. But that’s not the be-all and end-all of government. Government, particularly the American system of limited constitutional government is a powerful mechanism for good. FDR, for all the damage that he did to that system (for example) also freed Europe from the Nazis. Lincoln established the primacy of the federal government over the states, and freed the slaves. I could keep going.

The US system of government, as expressed in the Constitution and amendments, is one of the safest forms of government yet invented – which doesn’t mean it’s safe. The original design was flawed, and had to be adjusted almost immediately. Since then we have made a few changes to the fundamental design, some well-thought-out, some not so much. Manyof the original adjustments are safety mechanisms that have been subverted in the name of power or speed, or for “temporary, emergency” reasons, or simple lack of understanding. The successors generally try and correct wrongs or imbalances in the original design.

As an analogy, lets consider another powerful tool of freedom, the automobile*. Constantly evolving since its invention over a century ago, every one is a deadly danger to its operator and any unfortunates in the vicinity. Powered, quite literally, by volatile substances whose explosions are kept in check and redirected by ingenious mechanicals; a modern automobile requires not only clever design and construction, but regular fuelling, inspection, maintenance, and occasional replacement of parts as demanded by circumstances. the environment it’s operated in and the quality of each part should be considered when performing maintenance and part replacement.  there are recommended maintenance schedules, but they ought to be treated as guidelines. Following them slavishly and exclusively (without actually inspecting the vehicle) will result both in spending a lot more money than necessary (particularly if you blindly take the car to the dealer for service or get major repair work done without shopping around, or replace a perfectly good part because someone else tells you it’s due), and result in a dangerous situation if a part fails early and you don’t see it. The same goes for governments – the mechanisms of government need regular lubrication, and the parts need to be changed out when worn, but blindly changing the oil every 3000 miles and calling that “done” is just as bad.

But what do I see in my RSS reader every week, and particularly in the comments? Suggestions on how to automate the process of maintenance. Calls to act that way with government, or worse. The extreme minarchs want a car-of-government that won’t exceed 25 miles per hour,or go slower than 5, has a turning radius measured in acres, and will empty the oil pan at 3000 miles on the nose whether it needs it or not. They don’t want to take the effort needed to take care of it. And then they wonder why it’s falling apart.

Tell me, when was the last time you did something useful in politics, other than bitching about it on the intertoobs. (Voting in the final election of the season doesn’t count – that’s the last part of the maintenance process.) When did donate to a candidate? Volunteer to work for his or her campaign? The choice between lizards on the first Tuesday after the first Monday of November is not the be-all and end-all of governmental maintenance. You want a real choice? Start with your town council, and your statehouse. Don’t just complain about a candidate; help his opponent. Volunteer for the campaign. You don’t like the choice of lizards? Where were you in the primary?

Government is not necessarily your enemy – neither are the people who work in it. How many of you want Rand Paul term limited out? (For that matter, how many of you would have preferred that the Republican Class of ‘94 who voluntarily term-limited themselves out as part of the Contract With American remained in charge of the GOP rather than the party hacks?) For all the aspersions cast at the SCOTUS, it was SCOTUS that got Heller and McDonald a chance to own firearms. It’s likely that SCOTUS will force NJ to recognize my right to self-defense not only in my lifetime, but within the next few years.

Sebastian and Bitter (among others) have banged on the drum of working for change before me, and are much more active in politics than I am. There are bloggers who have entered politics directly as candidates. That’s what this country needs, not half-baked radicals who would destroy the system to save it.

(My friend Elmo Iscariot lit the spark of this blog post. Pun intended- see my comment there)

* – did you think I’d refer to the firearm here? A firearm is a marvel of simplicity compared to an automobile and so painfully a unitasker when compared even to my Smart Car that there is no comparison. The single most powerful tool of freedom is the automobile, followed by electric lighting. The firearm simply doesn’t compare.

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