"In Government, Scum Rises To The Top"

Authored by Walter Williams, op-ed via Townhall.com,

Some Ideas To Think About

Poverty is no mystery, and it's easily avoidable. The poverty line that the Census Bureau used in 2016 for a single person was an income of $12,486 that year. For a two-person household, it was $16,072, and for a four-person household, it was $24,755. To beat those poverty thresholds is fairly simple. Here's the road map: Complete high school; get a job, any kind of a job; get married before having children; and be a law-abiding citizen.

How about some numbers? A single person taking a minimum wage job would earn an annual income of $15,080. A married couple would earn $30,160. By the way, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, less than 4 percent of hourly workers in 2016 were paid the minimum wage. That means that over 96 percent of workers earned more than the minimum wage. Not surprising is the fact that among both black and white married couples, the poverty rate is in the single digits. Most poverty is in female-headed households.

Socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign garnered considerable appeal from millennials. These young people see socialism as superior to free market capitalism. Capitalism doesn't do well in popularity polls, despite the fact that it has eliminated many of mankind's worst problems, such as pestilence and gross hunger and poverty. One of the reasons is that capitalism is always evaluated against the nonexistent, non-realizable utopias of socialism or communism. Any earthly system, when compared with a utopia, will not fare well. Indeed, socialism sounds good but, when practiced, leads to disaster. Those disasters have been experienced in countries such as the USSR, China, most African nations and, most recently, Venezuela. When these disasters are pointed out, the excuse is inadequacies of socialist leaders rather than socialism itself. For the ordinary person, free market capitalism, with all of its warts, is superior to any system yet devised to deal with our everyday needs and desires.

Here are a couple of questions: Does an act clearly immoral when done privately become moral when done collectively? Does legality or majority consensus establish morality? Before you answer, consider that slavery was legal; South African apartheid was legal; the horrendous Stalinist, Nazi and Maoist purges were legal. Clearly, the fact of legality or a majority consensus cannot establish morality.

You might ask, "If you're so smart, Williams, what establishes morality?" That's easy, and you tell me when I make the wrong step. My initial premise is that we own ourselves. You are your private property, and I am mine. Self-ownership reveals what's moral and immoral. Rape is immoral because it violates private property. So is murder and any other initiation of violence. Most people probably agree with me that rape and murder are immoral, but what about theft? Some Americans would have a problem deciding whether theft is moral or immoral.

Let's first define what theft is. A fairly good working definition of theft is the taking by force of one person's property and the giving of it to another to whom it does not belong. Most Americans think that doing that is OK as long as it's done by government. We think that it is OK for Congress to take the earnings of one American to give to another American in the form of agricultural subsidies, business bailouts, aid for higher education, food stamps, welfare and other such activities that make up at least two-thirds of the federal budget. If I took some of your earnings to give to a poor person, I'd go to jail. If a congressman did the same thing, he'd be praised.

People tend to love a powerful government. Quite naturally, a big, powerful government tends to draw into it people with bloated egos, people who think they know more than everyone else and have little hesitance in coercing their fellow man. Nobel laureate Friedrich Hayek explained why corruption is rife in government: "In government, the scum rises to the top."


inhibi Thu, 08/02/2018 - 18:26 Permalink

$24,755 - your 'poverty beating' roadmap has a very low threshold to beat.

I wouldnt consider $25k "out of poverty" in the US even for a single person, if $53k in San Fran is basically homeless status.

Want to know why a massive amount of people want socialism? They look and see practically every other 1st world country offer free education and healthcare.

Bernie's supporters were mostly Millenials, the same (misguided) generation who all went to college on the behest of their parents and got reamed for it. Bernie is simply a man who, either by design or not, used the unrealistic hopes of the downtrodden generation as a way to get votes/popularity.


SILVERGEDDON inhibi Thu, 08/02/2018 - 18:37 Permalink

I guess moi is a scum for working 12 hours a day 7 days a week so I have some fucking choices in life in the second half. 

And, I am self employed. Sin number 2.

Go suck a bag of dicks, Walter, for writing a hack job on government that was obvious to the first man getting pushed around by the tribal chief. 

Same as it ever was.. 


In reply to by inhibi

Iskiab SILVERGEDDON Thu, 08/02/2018 - 18:47 Permalink

One thing I don’t understand about MAGA.  The rallying cry is to make America great again, but the actions are to revert the government and tax system to when America wasn’t that great.

The height of American civilization was the 50s or 60s, but all the actions are to bring the state back to how it was in pre-WW1 or the 1920s.  It was the stronger labour controls and high taxes of the 50s that coincided with American dominance.  The kind that if someone tried to introduce them today they’d be called socialist.

In reply to by SILVERGEDDON

Giant Meteor StackShinyStuff Thu, 08/02/2018 - 20:05 Permalink

I agree. Scum just simply floats on the surface sucking up all the oxygen. No rising involved, unless of course one attempt to sink the scum, re-releasing it to come to the surface where it naturally resides. But that's a bit far fetched because who does that?

No, scum just sits on the surface, Sociopaths, and psy·cho·paths however, always rising to the top ..

In reply to by StackShinyStuff

Itinerant Giant Meteor Thu, 08/02/2018 - 22:54 Permalink

One problem with your road map. It assumes all these hourly wage employees work full-time jobs. That's the rub. There's less and less full-time jobs (partly to avoid Obama care thresholds), especially at the low end. So your road map requires juggling multiple jobs, which could mean you're spending a large part of your week juggling and traveling.

In reply to by Giant Meteor

inhibi Iskiab Thu, 08/02/2018 - 18:58 Permalink

I agree. 

"Indeed, socialism sounds good but, when practiced, leads to disaster"

Im sure the author is thinking of Venezuela. But Venezuela, like all of South America, is a cartel infested, militaristic, corrupt country run by a megalomaniac. It's more oligarch than socialist.

He should ask the question: if socialism in a stable society, like say Sweden, means free health care & education, why do people say the US has a low tax rate? Just add that cost right to your taxes, and bim bam boom the US tax rate is probably more than a 100%, because, lets be honest, the average $55k/year for a family of 4 will NEVER EVER cover the $1 million it would take to send your kids to college debt free.

In reply to by Iskiab

nekten Iskiab Thu, 08/02/2018 - 20:40 Permalink

The places with "stronger labor controls" in the 50s, e.g., the Rust Belt, lost those jobs in the 60s when businesses moved South to a healthier business climate. It was the socialist-leaning politicians of those states that lost those jobs for the citizenry.

Unfortunately, the people of those states still haven't seemed to learn and elect the same economic morons to office.

And contrary to your assertion that the 50s and 60s was the height of American civilization, I'd claim the height was reached before 1912.

In reply to by Iskiab

Iskiab nekten Thu, 08/02/2018 - 22:42 Permalink

Height of American civilization before 1912?  Is that part of MAGA too, wild crazy assertions without anything to back them up?  Sounds more like religion then economics or policy.

The USA was over half of the world’s GDP post WW2.  What makes pre-WW1 even close?  Pre-WW1 the USA wasn’t the reserve currency and the UK was the dominant world power.

In reply to by nekten

Abaco Iskiab Thu, 08/02/2018 - 22:09 Permalink

You are a moron.  In the 50's and 60's we  prospered, in spite of the tax rates, for two reason.  One was that there were so many deductions no one paid the highest rate.  The other, and more important, is that we were about the only industrial nation whose economic base wasn't destroyed by the war. We had something of an advantage over the rest of the world. There is a third reason as well. We had a freer economy with government at all levels far less extensive and far less intrusive  If you think prosperity came as a result of the higher tax rates you are dumber than dog shit.

In reply to by Iskiab

Iskiab Abaco Thu, 08/02/2018 - 22:48 Permalink

Sure, I’m a moron.  It’s easy to say, but doesn’t make me wrong.  Saying the USA prospered despite those things is idiotic.  You can justify whatever you want using that argument, but the correlation between the union percentage of the workforce/strong labour laws and wages is undeniable.  The same can be said between the tax system, the more progressive the better the economy performs.  

Economists hate this simple fact because it undermines all economic theory, but that doesn’t make it untrue.  

In reply to by Abaco

OverTheHedge Abaco Fri, 08/03/2018 - 01:33 Permalink

The economic heyday of the US was after it had emphatically destroyed any and all competing industrial nations, during WWII. As last man standing, how could the US not be manufacturer to the world?

If you truly want to MAGA, just blow up all industrialised nations again. Luckily that would be the BRICS-T, not Europe, so we can all sleep easily.

(Disturbingly, this may well be the cunning plan that then neocons are embracing).

In reply to by Abaco

Art duTrait Iskiab Sun, 08/05/2018 - 16:11 Permalink

The US was dominant during that time primarily because most of the nations that could potentially compete with us were either bombed back to the Stone Age during the most recent world war, or being guided by the gentle hands of Communist dicators. All we had to do was fall out of bed, and we were on top. Also, the effects of the 1965 immigration reform act and political correctness were not yet being felt. The level of taxation had very little to do with it.

In reply to by Iskiab

StychoKiller inhibi Thu, 08/02/2018 - 23:03 Permalink

Those other 1st world countries can offer free education and healthcare because they're NOT paying for their defense(s).  If the USA would just drop out of NATO, I'm pretty sure those other 1st world countries would be forced to pay for their own security.  Then, we could find out at once that it's either Gunz or (free) butter, but not both!

In reply to by inhibi

GunnyG Thu, 08/02/2018 - 18:30 Permalink

On a shithouse wall in Iraq.

"Always remember that while cream rises to the top, so does the shit."

I dedicate the latter portion of that statement to Lt C, Capt S, and Major G, scumlapping incompetent fuckwads not smart enough to pour piss out of a boot with the instructions on the heel! 

Condor_0000 ElTerco Thu, 08/02/2018 - 21:04 Permalink

In Psychopaths we Trust


But in another sense the change of command is no change at all, because all that ever happens is that one bunch of psychopaths is swapped for another bunch of psychopaths. Thanks to a multigenerational selective breeding experiment, the upper echelons of all the social machines in the United States—be they corporations, the courts, government agencies or other bureaucracies—are stocked with psychopaths. In turn, putting one's faith in a bunch of psychopaths seems like a foolhardy thing to do. In Shrinking the Technosphere, I wrote:

Psychopaths—individuals who have no empathy or moral sense and are forced to simulate them in order to function in society—normally make up a small percentage of the general population. In a healthy society they are shunted to the margins and sometimes shunned or banished altogether. Sometimes they can take on an interesting, marginal role for which total lack of empathy or conscience is a boon: executioner, assassin, spy... In an environment where people take care of each other—because they feel empathy for one another—psychopaths stick out like a sore thumb. Even if they can simulate sincere expressions of empathy to some limited extent, they usually can’t fake them well enough to keep people around them from growing apprehensive, and just one or two episodes that demonstrate their indifference to others’ suffering or a sadistic streak is usually enough to “out” them conclusively.

But what to a healthy society looks like a terrible character flaw appears perfectly normal, even laudable, in the context of a social machine. Lack of empathy is seen as cool, professional detachment; a psychopath would never let emotion cloud her judgment. Sadistic tendencies (psychopaths hurt people in order to make themselves feel something) are perceived as signs of an incorruptible nature: the rules are the rules! Conversely, while a normal person feels alienation when thrust into an alienating environment, finds it painful to act like a robot and suffers pangs of conscience when forced to inflict damage on others by blindly following inhumane rules, a psychopath feels nothing at all. Because of this, social machines act as psychopath incubators. Psychopaths are not the healthiest of specimens, but because of their greater inclusive fitness within social machines, psychopaths tend to persist and thrive within them while non-psychopaths do not.

In turn, in societies dominated by social machines, one’s ability to thrive within a social machine is a major determinant of one’s ability to create positive outcomes for oneself and one’s progeny. Simply put, in such societies psychopaths do better socially, and are therefore more likely to breed successfully. And since, based on research on twins, psychopathy is roughly half-genetic and half-environmental, societies dominated by social machines selectively breed psychopaths. This, in turn, provides more human raw material for social machines, allowing them to grow and proliferate. After some number of generations of such selective breeding, society passes a threshold beyond which it becomes unable to return to health even once its social machines collapse (as they all do, eventually) until enough of the psychopaths have been winnowed from the gene pool—a process that can likewise require a few generations.

If having some psychopathic tendencies is helpful for fitting in within a social machine, having more psychopathic tendencies is even more helpful. Consequently, within social machines, pure psychopaths rise through the ranks and concentrate at the top. It should be entirely unsurprising, then, that when we look at the upper echelons of business and government—the C-suite, the boards of directors, the executive branches, the legislatures and the courts—we find that they are pretty much stocked with total psychopaths. This being the case, it seems rather clueless for anyone to think that a society that has been dominated, and sickened, by social machines over many generations can somehow be nursed back to health by its selectively bred psychopathic leaders. These leaders are the symptoms of the disease, and symptoms have never cured anyone of anything.

In reply to by ElTerco

DaBard51 Thu, 08/02/2018 - 18:40 Permalink

Supporting evidence:  the number of legal immigrants that arrive in the US with zero, and after 20 years own homes and businesses.

Not proof; but evidence that the system works as designed.  Usually.


When nine hundred years old you become, look this good you will not.

TeethVillage88s DaBard51 Thu, 08/02/2018 - 18:56 Permalink

When faced with Enemies in K-12, Nursing, Medicine, Universities, Politicians, Church Leaders, Salesmen, Wall Street, Insurance,... and Media... "Look this good you will not"... probably you will suck up the war narrative and parade around with the flag to support the Politician and Propaganda Apparatus

- You look Meshugada

(ooops I was too cagey, and people read this as attack, not sarc or irony, I mean all people, the many too many, the masses, the hoi poloi, will suck up the war narrative and/or parade around with the flag to support killing of 1-2 million Asians or Iraqis... so sorry... thanks for your interest in national security asshole)

In reply to by DaBard51