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Author: warrl Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 454760  
Subject: Re: Poll: Totally OT: Asperger's Syndrome Date: 11/19/2012 11:19 AM
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Alexander Hamilton wrote: “It has been observed that a pure democracy if it were practicable would be the most perfect government. Experience has proved that no position is more false than this. The ancient democracies in which the people themselves deliberated never possessed one good feature of government. Their very character was tyranny; their figure deformity.” Hamilton also stated: “We are a Republican Government. Real liberty is never found in despotism or in the extremes of Democracy.”

Perfect democracy works quite well... subject to one condition.

Perfect socialism also works quite well... subject to the same condition.

In fact, perfect dictatorship works quite well... subject to, again, the same condition.

It's even hard to tell them apart by observation... if the condition holds.

The condition required for all three is: that the people be perfect. All of them.

If a small level of imperfection be allowed, in all three cases (and the case of all forms of government I didn't mention) the government will come to be dominated by the imperfect, and all three become corrupt.

The challenge is to come up with a system that works acceptably well in the face of the reality that everyone is, to some degree, imperfect; and while extremes of imperfection can be smoothed out by assigning authority to groups, that practice also smooths out extremes of perfection.

Or to put it away, a Congress taken as a whole will be less corrupt than its most corrupt member - but is guaranteed to be corrupt to some degree. In giving authority to an individual you might occasionally by chance pick an honest man; in giving authority to a group of 100 you will never pick 100 honest men. (Particularly not if you choose only from those who put themselves forward to seek the positions.)

So a system of government that is to succeed must be based on the assumption that every part of itself is corrupt, and devise means to deliver reasonably competent governance in spite of that corruption.

Pretending that the corruption doesn't exist - that if something passes Congress it must be good - doesn't fit that requirement.

The US Constitution tried to set up such a system. A Senate chosen by the state legislatures, a House chosen by the people, in hopes that they would garner rival controlling interests. A President who has authority to execute the law but not to make it, answerable to neither part of the national legislature. Judges answerable to neither legislature nor President, with authority to apply law to specific circumstances and identify when the law contradicts itself, but to neither execute the law nor to make it. All limited in their authority to a short list of enumerated powers, and then further bound with lines they may not cross in carrying out those powers.

Unfortunately, things have changed. We replaced the Senate chosen by state legislatures with one chosen by the people. Government has become so powerful that a new class has emerged - the governing class - encompassing not only the legislature and the President but a huge swath of government employees and more than a few judges; that governing class consistently governs in its own interest rather than the nation's interest, and all rivalries within it are dwarfed by the desire to expand the class's power and authority.

So the two parties may rail against each other's expansions of government power - but when one party has expanded government power, the other party never undoes that expansion. When it comes to budgeting, "zero" means "slightly more than last year, after adjusting for inflation and population growth". The President makes laws by executive order. We have instances of judges making laws and even demanding tax increases to fund court-favored programs. With little heed to any constraint on their powers as separate entities or to the overall power of the national government.
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