I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Edgar Allen Poe

The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- H. L. Mencken

Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so
-Bertrand Russell

What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me — that everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matter — except to show how very dull we are ...
-James Branch Cabell

August 31, 2012 - 12:47 p.m.

Shrinking Government or Brains?

I haven't written much explicitly about it but have you picked up that I've been having problems. I'm still having problems. I'm still not writing about them.

Instead I'll stick to politics. It's that time of the year.

Republicans set smaller government as goal, in and of itself. Shrinking government is at the center of their political rhetoric. It's a ridiculous goal. The size of the government is the sum of decisions made to achieve goals, not a goal in and of itself. Your life is not made better or worse inherently by the size of the government. Some government actions are good. Some are bad. Each action should be judged on its own merits. You don't see Democrats saying "We need big government!" No there are government programs they are for and others they are against. Are they for bigger government than the Republicans say they are for? Well of course as the Republicans say they are against all government other than the military. They talk as if everything the government does is harmful.

Grover Norquist said "I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub" Imagine the outcry if a Democrat said that? He HATES the government of the US. And this isn't some fringe character. The vast majority of the Republicans in Congress and Mitt Romney have signed his Taxpayer Protection Pledge. This is the House version of it.

I, _______________, pledge to the taxpayers of the _____ district
of the state of__________, and to the American people that I will:
ONE, oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax
rates for individuals and/or businesses; and
TWO, oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and
credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates.

Notice that it states it as an absolute. The two ideas go together, government and taxes are always bad. Always! To consider the alternative is to be an apostate.

Like all ideologies it's about not having to think. Why struggle to figure out if something is a good or bad idea. It's much easier to say, "It expands government so it's wrong!" Socialists would say, "The government is taking over a private function so it's good!" Ideologies have an emotional appeal. So many people hate to think.

Of course it is all rhetoric. When Republicans get in power they do no such thing. Sure they gut social programs for the poor but they weren't getting the vote from the poor anyway. But they don't cut the rest of government because people might say they want the government to shrink but what they mean is that they want what benefits other people to shrink while what benefits themselves they want to grow. And guess what a lot of things benefit lots of people. Is any Republican who is running for office going to say they think that the following were bad for the country?

  • The Louisiana Purchase
  • the Lewis and Clark Expedition
  • The building of the Erie Canal
  • The building of the Transcontinental Railroads (The government gave them huge grants of land)
  • The electrification of rural areas
  • The building of water systems
  • Social Security
  • The building of roads culminating in the interstate highway system
  • Building airports
  • Building harbors
  • Creating the Internet
  • Medicare
  • Medical Research
  • Public Schools
  • Public Universities
  • Fire Departments
  • Libraries
  • Police Departments
  • Sanitation Department

When people are asked for specific cutbacks they want they only one that gets majority support is foreign aid. Of course people think it should be cut to 10% of Federal spending. The reality is that it is about 1% so they are only against it because they don't know how little we actually spend.

No decisions should be made on a blanket basis except for moral ones and even there you should take time to think of the consequences. Mental laziness should not be the basis of a political philosophy.

I signed the Pro-Truth Pledge:
please hold me accountable.

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Horvendile August 31, 2012
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