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  1. Standard member sasquatch672
    Don't Like It Leave
    17 May '13 16:07
    When Governments Go Bad

    By DAVID BROOKS


    Government, Clinton Rossiter once wrote, is something like fire: “Under control, it is the most useful of servants; out of control, it is a ravaging tyrant.”

    So you want government workers to be acutely aware of the ambiguous and perilous nature of their position. You want them to have a heart full of affection for the people they serve. They should regard the people as a mentor, respecting their wisdom, grateful for their trust and longing to serve them with deference and respect.

    As they love and respect the voters, you also want government workers to fear themselves. You want officials who are aware that they probably went into government in part because they have a desire to shape and help other people, and that this desire comes with its own form of immoderation.

    You want government workers who are alert to their own tendency toward bossiness; who ladle out their power carefully, gram by gram; who are aware that they are not really as benevolent and disinterested as they seem to themselves. Most of all, you want people with a strong sense of self-restraint.

    As a surgeon abhors sloppiness, the best government workers instinctively abhor any hint of domination. Knowing how power is liable to corrupt them, they tend to shrink back at any hint of their own overreach and desire for control.

    But we don’t exactly see this attitude in the big stories about government today, do we? Most government workers are amazingly dedicated and talented, and they put in a level of commitment that is far out of proportion to their salaries. But we’re also seeing government workers, who, far from checking their own desire for control, have taken it out for a romp.

    The I.R.S. scandal and Justice Department’s invasion of The Associated Press are just the most recent examples of overreach. They rest on top of the daily intrusions of the post-9/11 security apparatus and much else.

    It’s hard to tell now if the I.R.S. scandal is political thuggery or obliviousness. It would be one thing if the scandal is just a group of tax people targeting the most antitax groups in the country. That’s just normal, run-of-the-mill partisan antipathy.

    It would be far worse if the senior workers of the I.R.S. have become so isolated by their technocratic task that they didn’t even recognize that using the search term “Tea Party” was going to be a moral and political problem. If that’s the case, then the members of the I.R.S. leadership are suffering from a tunnel vision that turns outside reality into abstractions. When government workers lose touch with the normal human context of their job, that’s when the real horror show commences.

    Everyone is treating the I.R.S. issue as a bigger deal, but the Justice Department scandal is worse. This was a sweeping intrusion that makes it hard for the press to do its job. Who is going to call a journalist to report wrongdoing knowing that at some future date, the government might feel perfectly free to track the phone records and hunt you down?

    I would have thought a dozen Justice Department officials would have risen up and splashily resigned when they learned of the scope of this invasion. Aren’t there some lawyers in the Justice Department, and, if so, did they go to law schools where the Constitution is left unassigned?

    This scandal arises from a larger cultural virus: leakaphobia. Every administration centralizes power more tightly than the one before and is more paranoid about leaks than the one before. Every administration successively narrows the circle of debate, forsaking wide deliberation for the sake of reducing leaks (except the politically useful ones). Why do they do this? Because people who go into government not only have a tendency to want to control other people but also to control information.

    We clearly have a values problem in the federal government. We clearly have a few or many agencies where the leaders don’t emphasize that workers need to check themselves, or risk losing what remains of the people’s trust.

    The rest of us just have to be more wary. For example, I generally support the little behavioral nudges that Cass Sunstein describes in his outstanding book “Simpler” — the subtle policy shifts that induce people to save more, or eat healthier. I’d trust somebody with a minimalist disposition like Sunstein to implement these policies. But I wouldn’t necessarily trust the people at the I.R.S. or Justice Department to implement them. They’d take a nudge and expand it into a shove.

    And what are we to make of financial regulatory reform and the new health care law? In a culture of unrestraint, will federal regulators use these rule-writing opportunities to expand their reach beyond anything now imagined?

    People can only have faith in a government that self-restrains, and there’s little evidence of that now.
  2. 17 May '13 16:47
    Looking for a point in the article, but it just seems to be "it's bad when people do bad things".
  3. Standard member bill718
    Enigma
    17 May '13 16:57
    Originally posted by KazetNagorra
    Looking for a point in the article, but it just seems to be "it's bad when people do bad things".
    Mr. Sasquatch, there is some logic in what you are saying. So...may we please hear your solution to this situation?
  4. 17 May '13 17:22
    Originally posted by bill718
    Mr. Sasquatch, there is some logic in what you are saying. So...may we please hear your solution to this situation?
    The only real solution would be the existence of Democrats in the Senate who care more about this country than their political party.

    Since that isn't going to happen, the next best thing is to allow the Republicans in the House to block Obama at every point and have the nation right behind them.

    Unlike Nixon, Obama will not resign. Democrats do not have the sense of honor that would require them to step down once they are exposed.
  5. 17 May '13 17:27 / 4 edits
    I'm tired of regimes that try to "transform" society. I much prefer a government to let society "evolve".

    The only good role government can play from my perspective is to keep a civil society by making sure that people are not allowed to kill, steal, and harm others. Unfortunatly, government has become the one stealing, killing, and harming others without any checks and balances. in addition, they have assumed the role of insisting that they will make us all live "better".

    I think that most would agree with the premise that we should let other be free to make their own decisions so long as it does not harm others. However, we are up against an ideology that thinks that this would only lead to global destruction. In fact, my very existence leaves a carbon footprint that is helping to destroy us all. As a result, this is an ideology that targets human freedom as being "harmful". They focus on "collective salvation" rather than indivdual rights. Too bad that the collective inherently erodes my freedoms. Why not just bring out a ball and chain, or worse, and be done with it?
  6. Standard member bill718
    Enigma
    17 May '13 17:33
    Originally posted by Eladar
    The only real solution would be the existence of Democrats in the Senate who care more about this country than their political party.

    Since that isn't going to happen, the next best thing is to allow the Republicans in the House to block Obama at every point and have the nation right behind them.

    Unlike Nixon, Obama will not resign. Democrats do not have the sense of honor that would require them to step down once they are exposed.
    So...that's your solution. Gridlock??
  7. 17 May '13 17:41
    Originally posted by bill718
    So...that's your solution. Gridlock??
    If you can't get rid of corruption, then all you can do is block it. Since Democrats have no sense of honor, the corruption will stay in place.
  8. 17 May '13 17:43
    Originally posted by Eladar
    If you can't get rid of corruption, then all you can do is block it. Since Democrats have no sense of honor, the corruption will stay in place.
    How does filibustering everything get rid of corruption precisely?
  9. 17 May '13 17:55
    Originally posted by KazetNagorra
    How does filibustering everything get rid of corruption precisely?
    We can't get rid of the corruption until the next election.

    I don't think you need to filibuster if you have the majority. You simply vote everything down.

    As for how this works, corruption can't happen if the corruption gets blocked. Stop the effects of corruption by stopping the corrupt people from doing what they want.
  10. Standard member bill718
    Enigma
    17 May '13 18:28 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by Eladar
    We can't get rid of the corruption until the next election.

    I don't think you need to filibuster if you have the majority. You simply vote everything down.

    As for how this works, corruption can't happen if the corruption gets blocked. Stop the effects of corruption by stopping the corrupt people from doing what they want.
    I'm having a hard time convincing myself that replacing Obama with another President (which is going to happen anyway), will magically transform the American government into a squeaky clean machine. I'm also having a hard time seeing Obama's direct involvment in any of this. It's quite possible much of these (so called) scandals, took place without his knowing.

    I would suggest however, if these so called scandals are found to have less subsidence than they first appeared to have, the conservatives that are calling for a multitude of investigations and jail time, will simply cement their reputation as a bunch of obstructionists. I would suggest caution in going down this path...
  11. 17 May '13 18:31
    Originally posted by bill718
    I'm having a hard time convincing myself that replacing Obama with another President (which is going to happen anyway), will magically transform the American government into a squeaky clean machine. I'm also having a hard time seeing Obama's direct involvment in any of this. It's quite possible much of these (so called) scandals, took place without his knowi ...[text shortened]... eputation as a bunch of obstructionists. I would suggest caution in going down this path...
    If the scandals are as they appear, do you think Obama and his cronies should be thrown in jail?
  12. 17 May '13 18:36
    Originally posted by Eladar
    We can't get rid of the corruption until the next election.

    I don't think you need to filibuster if you have the majority. You simply vote everything down.

    As for how this works, corruption can't happen if the corruption gets blocked. Stop the effects of corruption by stopping the corrupt people from doing what they want.
    "The corrupt people" are Democrats, and Democrats alone? You can't seriously be that naive.
  13. 17 May '13 18:43
    Originally posted by KazetNagorra
    "The corrupt people" are Democrats, and Democrats alone? You can't seriously be that naive.
    I suppose corrupt is a relative term. We'll see if there are any Democrats worth keeping by how they react to all of this.

    It was good for Nixon to go, he was too corrupt. Now it's time for Obama and his cronies to go.
  14. Standard member sasquatch672
    Don't Like It Leave
    17 May '13 19:42 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by bill718
    Mr. Sasquatch, there is some logic in what you are saying. So...may we please hear your solution to this situation?
    It's a problem that goes beyond party. On this particular occasion, it happens to be Democrats that are awful, corrupt, and terrible. But there's a philosophy that is insidious and destructive. We simply do not need activists in government. We really do not need naïve people like Obama and his minions who engage in absurd and doomed-to-fail social engineering experiments on a national scale. Obama is trying to legislate human nature out of existence with policies that have caused the destruction of a society everywhere they've been fully implemented. Moreover, he is doing it in a unilateral way, therefore ensuring that the people affected by his rules who disagree with his rules are going to find ways around them. 30-hour workweeks mandate health benefits? Fine. Everybody gets 28-hour workweeks. You're going to demonize law-abiding, responsible gun owners? You get sheriffs across the nation and by the thousands publicly declaring they will not enforce the laws you pass.

    Obama is a fool. He is a child. His inability to govern and be the president of the entire country is costing this country dear.
  15. Standard member bill718
    Enigma
    17 May '13 20:01
    Originally posted by sasquatch672
    It's a problem that goes beyond party. On this particular occasion, it happens to be Democrats that are awful, corrupt, and terrible. But there's a philosophy that is insidious and destructive. We simply do not need activists in government. We really do not need naïve people like Obama and his minions who engage in absurd and doomed-to-fail social en ...[text shortened]... inability to govern and be the president of the entire country is costing this country dear.
    Well...you've done a nice job outlining what you precieve to be the problem...and your solution???