Policy

(Re-post from June 4, 2010)

……..

What is up with this partisan politics nonsense? Why is it that we can bash one president for his policies while we praise the next guy from the “other side” when he does exactly the same thing? Why do we see one person’s policies as for the little guy when the next person’s policies look much the same but are labeled “elitist”? The answer is that America has become a nation of policies instead of laws. While laws are perfectly understandable in their own right and need no explanation, policies have to have a motive. So, one guy says, “My motive for giving the rich a tax break is so that the rich can create more jobs.” Then the next guy comes along and says, “I’m going to tax the rich more so that I can take their money and allocate it to help fund startup companies and create jobs.” Side A says “You are letting the rich be too greedy,” and side B says, “You are making government too big and inefficient.”
Wouldn’t we be able to agree that both sides can talk a good motive? Wouldn’t we also agree that both sides could fail to see the downside of their policy? (And isn’t that why we need pundits now, more than ever? After all, someone is going to have to spend all day helping the poor, huddled masses decipher what all the fuss is about. Besides, how else are we going to fill up 500 cable channels. There are only so many anime cartoons and Gilligan’s Island reruns to go around, after all.)
Governor Chris Christie is navigating into deep waters these days. Already the Democrats–yes, the Democrats!–are throwing the state constitution in his face, telling him he must use due process of legislature, and not simply use his gubernatorial powers to slash and burn the New Jersey budget. And I think we would all agree with the Democrats that Governor Christie has to be careful not to be a reactionary and throw aside the Constitution.
Ahem. Can you say FDR? I know he was a nice Democrat. But isn’t that exactly what he did? Isn’t it true that we are still running the same emergency government plan today that FDR set in motion in 1932? And there is the rub, my friends. Every president since FDR has had a total conundrum. That is, how do we talk about upholding the Constitution, how do we take an oath to that effect, when the Constitution has been reduced to a sidebar? The answer, or course, is that we don’t talk about the Constitution. We talk about “public policy” Why, since FDR, we’ve managed to come up with forty-some volumes–tomes, mind you–of public policy. We have so much policy that nobody even knows what all the policies are. This year alone, we’ve added thousands of pages of public policy.
Once upon a time I undertook a little study of just section 7700 of the Uniform Commercial Code–public policy–which deals with IRS definitions. Did you know that, by definition, the only people who live in taxable states are residents of D.C. and the territories? I tried to point this out once to the IRS. They sent me a nice reply that I should just let them tell me what the Code says because I am not qualified to read it. Now, if I can’t figure out what is plainly written in the definitions section, how do they expect anyone to be able to file a tax return?
The question is no longer how to return to the Constitution, it now is how we are going to skew public policy to garner the most votes for the next election. You see, by now a whole culture has grown up around the entitlements that public policy grants. Of course, there are strings attached with every entitlement. For instance, if you want to be an electrician, you can only get there by apprenticeship to a master electrician, which means you will have to join his union. If you don’t, good luck ever getting the “title” of electrician. I’m not saying that a good electrician isn’t worth his pay. But there is a game to be played to make the system work for you. There are toes to kiss.
I, for one, would like to go back to the Constitution and just throw out the whole Raw, er, New Deal. But, for every one of me who has no entitlements, there are probably ten others who have entitlements that they don’t want to give up. Some, like electricians, worked long and hard for them. How do I convince them to give up their nobility? How, indeed, do we shed the scales from the eyes of so many, so that they see that the only way to restore this country is to start over, with no entitlements?
Entitlements cost money and require bookkeeping. Bookkeeping costs money and requires more bookkeeping, plus auditing, plus managers, who, in turn, require more managers, and so on. At one point within the last decade or so, every man, woman and child on welfare was getting about $10,000 in goods and services. Unfortunately, the administrative machine to “fairly and legally distribute” these entitlements amounted to about $40,000 for each man, women and child. That’s only a 25% efficiency. Wouldn’t we be better of just giving every single person in the country a $10,000 check and not having any welfare agency? Just think of how many cars we could buy and doctors we could afford with an extra $10,000 a year. Plus we could use that money for startup businesses and create jobs for all the out-of-work government administrators…
Welfare is just the tip of the iceberg. You have business licenses, fishing licenses, auto licenses, driver licenses. The Hotel you stay in on trips has to pay room taxes for each room. The gas station has to pay a guy to put a seal of approval on the pump. The surveyor has to be paid to make sure your new 6″ change of grade in the back yard isn’t going to kill the spotted owls…
Good luck to you, Mr. Christie. I hope you can fix New Jersey’s problems. But, of course, you will still be part of the corporation of the US, with all its expectations and demands and its royal decrees. I’ll close with a little music, now. “Yes I’m proud to be an America, where I pay my license fees. And I wish that all those men who died had really kept us free. But I’ll gladly stand up next to them and proclaim the truth today. Though I am a slave, I love this land. God bless the usA.”
For an excellent treatise on the state of the Republic of America, read U.S.A. The Republic Is The House That No One Lives In by Lee Brobst
I Googled it and found it in no less than six places. It’s been around a long time, and it’s still good.
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