Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Brief Tangent On Politics

I've indicated before that I harbor monarchist sympathies. Not that I harbor any kind of romantic idealism that they're perfect or anything. I just don't understand why so many are allergic and/or repulsed by the concept. Recent events here in the United States have served to solidify my views. Before I go any further, let me be clear that I also don't think there is any chance of the old monarchical systems being restored absent some kind of complete and total breakdown of the current order of things. Yes, I know about the Great Monarch. That's sort of my point. Anything permitting a leader like that is nothing short of a signpost directly to the End of Days.

Moving on.

As I look around, I see the United States, a republic, beset by a large number of problems. Ignoring the moral deterioration and social decay for a moment, the main issues contributing to the nation's instability are economic. In a nutshell, the country has developed an appetite for free stuff from our government and is now unavailable to pay for it. Lest anyone think I am talking solely of social safety net programs, I am including various aspects of our allegedly free market system that has encouraged the rise of monopolies and oligopolies (both public and private) and promoted the misallocation of resources (certain subsidies, for example). All of this has become painfully obvious in recent years with the collapse of 2008, the subsequent TARP bailout, the stimulus plan that has never materialized, and the more immediate conflict that erupted over the raising of the debt ceiling.

As with any republic, we citizens have elected legislators to deal with these problems. They have largely failed and in many ways have exacerbated our problems. The solution to all this, as a republic, would seem to be to elect new legislators more adept at solving the problems. Herein is the problem.

Looking around, it seems painfully obvious that the large majority of Americans have absolutely no idea what any of these problems mean. They don't know what cause the 2008 collapse. They probably don't even know what the debt ceiling is. Our populace has become well-versed in sound bites but without any clue of whether or not what they are saying is true. We have allowed our population to become so dumbed-down that the basic duties of a citizen are now truly beyond the reach of many. This is the real problem.

If the resolution to our problems rests with the choices of our voters, what happens when the voters are unable to grasp the nature of the problems, much less the plans for any remedies? It appears that we evolve into a constituency that really only knows and understands the immediate and personal effects of a given politician's actions. For example, if we receive some form of government aid or are engaged in an industry protected by the governmental aegis, we recognize harm if that assistance is taken away. On the flip side, we would welcome additional financial/legal goodies if they were promulgated in our favor. This is where the terminal short-sidedness comes from. It is worthless to hear debates about issues, as the only issue that remains is self-interest. This is why we hear so much complaining that Americans want spending cuts but are unwilling to pay more taxes or face reduced government benefits and services. Fewer and fewer people comprehend exactly what lies outside themselves in this very large and complicated picture.

Given all this, it seems to me that we've just about ceased to be a republic, since the whole mechanism for allocation of power has broken down. These days, the USA more resembles an aristocracy or oligarchy in which a few power brokers hold sway and no matter the name of who sits in the seat of authority, the same powers prevail. To be clear, there are people who don't know jack about what's going on electing similar people to office who are then easily controlled by other people (whether they are elected officials or not) who do know what's going on and manipulate things to their advantage. Moreover, I don't see any way out of this status quo. It will take decades to re-engage the population on a meaningful level. It's entirely possible that I'm being ignorant and naive by suggesting that it was ever possible and that we've always been this way. If so, let me then simply suggest that the current state of affairs makes it more difficult than ever to extricate ourselves from the very deep hole we're in.

My point in all this is that at least with a monarch you'd have someone who would most likely have spent their whole life being educated on the finer points of all these problems and various ways of dealing with them. Their whole childhood would be an exercise geared towards preparing them for the day when they would assume the throne. One would hope this would spare us from having powerful people concerned over such matters as whether or not Guam might capsize. Again, not saying that monarchy is a silver bullet, but should it really get the bad rap that it does?

As we've seen more and more centralization of power, both economically and politically, perhaps it's not monarchy that people have a problem with. Maybe it's monarchy without the illusion of self-determination that people don't like. As long as the perception remains that there is some level of popular check against "The Man," the citizenry will keep the existing system going. It's too bad that the perception seems to be what gave rise to the oligarchy and is what will allow it to remain. Whatever form of government you have, at least be honest about who is running the show.

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