Originally posted at Monty Pelerin's World blog,
Neither American political party is worth supporting. Each has interests inconsistent with those of the American public. The claimed political differences are mostly cosmetic, designed for marketing advantage. Both parties act in their self interest which does not coincide with that of the citizens or the well-being of the country.
Each party behaves like a self-serving criminal gang. The quaint concept of serving the public exists no longer. Routinely they exempt themselves from the rules and laws they impose on the rest of the country. Their policies enrich the political class while the rest of the country becomes poorer.
Mark Twain described Congress as our ”distinctly native American criminal class.” Albert J. Nock went further, generalizing Twain’s somewhat parochial observation:
Taking the State wherever found, striking into its history at any point, one sees no way to differentiate the activities of its founders, administrators and beneficiaries from those of a professional-criminal class
Lest the reader think these two individuals confused or biased, a more complete collection of quotes on government is available here: Do Only Dumb People Believe in Government?
How The Game Changed
As government grew in size and influence, the rewards associated with political office grew. Sacrifice and service were displaced with the opportunity for personal spoils. The motivation subtly changed from service to the accumulation of wealth. Mother Theresa quietly morphed into Gordon Gecko.
Today, politics is considered a lucrative career choice, not service to one’s country. The rise of the professional politician was never anticipated by the Founders of the nation. Yet, had the Constitution been strictly adhered to, the improper incentives that drove the change could never have occurred.
Criminal activity always promises higher returns than legal activity, especially for the less talented. This form of monopoly profit always attracts the most ruthless. Prohibition, as an example, provided the opportunity for excess profits that attracted many a thug. The beginnings of US organized crime syndicates are widely believed to have started as a result.
Monopoly profits now are possible for the ruthless who enter public office. Furthermore, as lawmakers their risk of being prosecuted for wrongdoing is reduced. Is it any surprise that we have the motley cast of political leaders currently vying for dominance?
Once the potential for excess returns was added to politics, morality and ethics were displaced with the “whatever it takes” approach of organized crime. Today’s politicians abide by the same ethics and morality that characterized the old-time bootleggers. In two respects dealing with bootleggers was more satisfying:
- Dealing with a bootlegger was a voluntary transaction.
- If you chose to, you presumably received a useful product in return.
The New Role of Constituents
The concept of political service has been replaced by that of masked exploitation. The public is no longer viewed as clients or constituents to be served. Instead they have become political prey. Politicians see the public as a collection of wallets and votes, fair game to be hunted as the means to expand power and wealth. Constituents are now the Soylent Green of the political food chain.
The political class assumes the public exists to serve them, not the other way around. Public participation beyond the lightening of wallets or the provision of votes is unwelcome. It is considered “interference” that must be deterred by the ruling class.
The political class is now a huge, voracious parasite. Like the plant in the Little Shop of Horrors, its needs have grown to the point where it threatens anything productive. Its needs now exceed the willingness for continued sacrifice on the part of the productive. The parasite threatens the very existence of the host.
The political Ponzi scheme of tax, borrow and spend has reached its limit. Either it will die when citizens turn on it or it will kill the productive, ensuring its own destruction.
It perishes in the end. Whether it takes civilization with it is the bigger question.