- (1) Easy. We are getting the Nanny State because we want
it. Most people want to be taken care of. If asked, they might genuflect
to residual self-respect, to the largely imaginary American virtues embodied
by Davy Crockett, and say they favored self-reliance, initiative, and
independence. They don't. They want nurturing, want to shed the burden
of personal responsibility. The mothering can be accomplished through
welfare, social security, nationalized medicine, maids, union contracts,
immigrant grounds-keepers, police, or workman's comp, but they want it.
Most people who don't want to be taken care of by the state are rich enough
not to need it. The increase in wealth occasioned by technology makes
the Nanny State affordable. Since we want it, and we can pay for it, we
will have it.
- (2) The upcoming election is of little importance. Either
candidate will move the country in the same direction, toward the Nanny
State, toward extension of entitlements, and with it increased governmental
intrusion into the lives of the citizenry, and the dissolution of conventional
morality, which gives people fun things to do while being taken care of.
Al Gore would promote these things a bit faster than George W. Gore.
- (3) We do not have candidates, neither Al nor George.
They are illusions. Each is in reality the aggregate of two speechwriters,
a gestures coach, three pollsters, an ad agency, a make-up man, a holder
of focus-groups, and several political technicians. They test one position
-- Al is going to be a centrist -- and take a poll. If the polls drop,
they take a new position -- now Al will be a left-liberal and compassionate,
or conservative and manly. In fact, Al doesn't exist.
- (4) People do not want the things they say they want.
Most, for example, do not want freedom. They want security, prosperity,
bowling, television, and vacations. Having these things, they will accept
without demur, without really noticing, the tightening control over the
press, the narrowing of political choice, the diminution of influence
over schools, the reduction in independence. The trick is to bring these
about gradually, by imperceptible steps, in the name of compassion or
some similarly marketable virtue. It's working.
- (5) People care no more about education than they do
about freedom. The deepest human drives other than sex are, first, to
obtain prosperity; second, to avoid work; and, third, to escape their
sense of inferiority. Schooling both requires work and produces invidious
distinctions between those who have it and those who don't. Consequently,
most people are happy with schools that provide the forms of education
without requiring the substance. Thus the resentment of standardized tests,
and the inflation everywhere of grades. Soon everybody will go to college,
nobody will have to learn anything, and everybody will get a diploma.
- (6) People are not opposed to welfare, but to welfare
for others. Whites object to welfare for blacks, imagining that they themselves
embody the ideals of hard work and self-support. Actually most whites
don't like work any more than blacks do. A chief aim of civilization has
been the avoidance thereof. If whites could continue to receive their
salaries without again going to the office, they would spend their lives
fishing. Which would be sensible.
- (7) There will be no election in November. To elect is
to choose, but we barely have a choice. We do not have two political parties,
but rather one party with two divisions. The principle of American politics
is to allow the electorate to decide between Candidate A and Candidate
A, which encourages them to believe that they have determined who is to
be President. It is a system that keeps the incumbents in power, though
they take turns being in the minority. Your choices are to vote for either
of two largely identical candidates, to throw your vote to a fringe candidate
in a gesture of romantic futility, or to preserve your dignity by staying
- (8) The genius of our system lies in maintaining the
appearance of representative government without actually having it. One
technique for doing this is the election-without-a-choice. Another is
the concentration of power in distant bureaucracies that in principle
are subject to democratic influence, but in practice are not. If, for
example, fundamental educational decisions were made at the local level,
parents would wield influence. But if policy is made far away, in the
state capital and in Washington, parents will have no influence at all.
The effect is to keep power in the hands of unions and the ruling elites.
They understand this perfectly.
- (9) We do not have a free press. We maintain the illusion,
because the government does not control the press. The trick is that the
press and the government are in the hands of the same people -- or, if
you will, the press is an informal branch of government. They allow the
expression only of approved views. We all know what they are. The more
important the subject, and the more sensitive, the less we can say. Is
this not so?
- (10) The chief function of the Supreme Court is to allow
the ruling elite to thwart the public will. Having absolute power, and
being in addition beyond recall, the Court acts as a Ministry of Culture
while pretending to fulfill judicial functions. The justices make by fiat
the decisions that truly transform the country, decisions that could never
be passed legislatively -- abortion, integration, pornography, the gradual
abolition of religion, the upcoming elimination of self-defense by firearms.
Its decisions issue in Constitutional garb, but in fact represent the
views of the elite. The court has the power to impose its will, and does.
The people passively obey.
- (11) Presidential elections are not about policy, but
about the division of power. Electoral victory determines the apportioning
of various spoils. Neither party, however, will address crucial matters
of policy. For example, neither will do anything about the abysmal state
of education, the precipitous decline of the military, the unchanging
morass of racial relations, unchecked immigration, crime, or the perfusion
of drugs through the schools. Eight years hence, things will be as they
are now, except that various freedoms will have been marginally reduced.
- (12) In sum, we have democracy that circumvents the will
of the people; a free press in which only certain things may be said;
education divorced from learning; and we have very nearly demonstrated
that if people have comfortable lives, they will care about nothing else.
Again, America is succeeding where the Soviet Union failed.
- ©Fred Reed 2000. All rights reserved. www.FredOnEverything.com
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