Monday, August 15, 2016

But Maybe It'll be Different THIS Time... Right?

There's a frustrating paradox... People understand that corporations will generally act in what they believe to be their own best interest... as will the people who make up those corporations...
... but then think somehow that government (which is made up of the same people who make up corporations) will not act in IT'S best interest...
... and further, somehow people don't understand, that the best interests of government, are NOT the best interests of the people.
Of course they're not. If they happen to coincide, it is a happy accident, or its because they are catering to a specific interest, to gain support, power, and resources.
Somehow, people seem to persist in this utterly irrational set of beliefs, that government is "looking out for them" against its own interests, no matter how much evidence there is... basically the entirety of history... to the contrary.
Even when they acknowledge that this was "sometimes true in the past", or sometimes they think "now it is anyway",  they blame outside factors like "corporate corruption" and "special interests"; rather than seeing and accepting, that the government simply acts in its own interest, and that when it doesn't, it's an exception, not the rule.
Somehow, they keep convincing themselves, that the "right people" will really "fix it", and  "look out for them".
Somehow, they keep thinking "this time, if we just get people who are good enough and smart enough... this time, it will be different".
No... it won't be.
Never mind the proof presented by all of history, it won't be, because it can't be.
What do I mean by that?
Well... this is going to take a while... but let's simplify as much as possible, and start with breaking down some core assumptions and fallacies.
Like this one...
"The government acts in the interests of the people".
It doesn't. And it's not because of "corruption" or "corporate money" or "special interests"... or at least not as most people think of those things.
The false dichotomy of "Corporations and special interests vs. Government, acting in the interests of the people", is so obvious, I really don't understand how anyone can possibly believe it at this point.
But they do... in their millions and billions.
The problem at core, seems to be that people confuse and conflate the government, with the nation, and the people as a whole, as if they were one thing, or at least always aligned together collectively.
This is entirely false.
They then believe that somehow "corporations" and "special interests", are some kind of other thing, acting against "the people", for which "the government" is their champion, advocate, and defender.
This is also entirely false.
These false notions, completely ignore the fact that the corporation itself, is a special creature of government, created and protected by the government. That without special status granted by government, and the special protection of government, corporations are nothing but a voluntary collective of individuals (theoretically acting in common or aligned interest), with no power or protection greater than any individual.
... That's also what a government is supposed to be right, except the "common interest" is supposed to be "the common interest of all the people", right?
Of course, that's also what a union is supposed to be right? Or a political movement? Or any other voluntary collective institution, which is granted special status and protection by the government. They're collectives of individuals, acting in common or aligned interest. They are in fact protected interests, as much as they are institutions or corporations etc...
... and this is where the fallacy breaks down completely...
Of course, by creating, protecting, and then catering to these protected institutions; the government, and those within it, secure their own positions, and gain power and control. With this power and control, they then create more protected interests and institutions, cater to them, and receive even more power and control in return, in a self reinforcing cycle.
"Corporations" are not opposed by government.
Protected institutions and interests, such as corporations, are creatures of government. Neither can exist, or thrive, without the other. More importantly, neither are acting in the interests of individuals outside of themselves... nor should anyone expect they would... their purpose is to act in the interests of those who make them up.
That's the very definition of "special interests" by the way.
So.. that's corruption right?
No, actually, it's not. It's corruption if there is a quid pro quo of cash or similar value, in exchange for a specific vote... But mostly that's just what politics IS.
People have interests, they gather together in groups, those groups act to further their interests; be it a political party, or a town historical society, or a private club, or a business, or a union. They try to get the government to act in the way they want, and competing interests try to get them act in the ways the competing interest want.
That's politics.
Here's the thing though... Government is just another corporation... another specially protected institution, and "special interest"... composed of the same people who make up every other corporation and "special interest". They are just another institution acting in their own interest, like all institutions do.
Yes, that's right, the government itself, is just another "special interest".
And the government, acts in its own interest. Not yours, or mine, or "the peoples"... It's own.
No-one is acting in the interest of "the people" as a whole, or of individuals, but those individuals themselves; and the voluntary collectives they form and join, in order to specifically act in those interests...
Those would also be "special interests" by the way...
So... how can two "special interests" created by, protected by, supported by, and supporting, each other; be truly opposed to each other, except in competing for power and resources with each other?
How can one "special interest" be acting in its own interest, and the other "special interest"... the government itself... be acting AGAINST its own interest; by instead acting in your individual interest, or in the interest of "the people" as a whole?
It should be obvious that it can't.
Now... here's the even bigger issue though... and this itself seems to be the core conceptual problem:
"The People" don't actually exist.
There is no such thing as "the interests of the people"... because there is no "the people", who all have the same common interest, beyond some very basic concepts and platitudes like "safety" "survival" "prosperity" "happiness" etc...
"The people" is a convenient fiction, to represent all the individuals within "the nation", all of whom have their own interests; sometimes aligned with the interests of others, sometimes opposed to them, sometimes competing with them.
"The Nation" as a whole can have unified interests, such as advantageous foreign policy, and national defense, and the overall safety and prosperity of "the nation" is in the common interest of all the people... but that's not exactly equivalent. In fact, often, what is in the best interest of the nation, is not in the best interests of many of the people.
So, it's not actually possible for ANY government, no matter how well run, no matter how well intentioned, and no matter how well structured, to act for "the people"; except in the broadest possible terms.
Yes, really... no government, of any kind, ever.
That's not a "broken system" or a "perversion of the system"... that's how any system will always be no matter what, because it cannot possibly be other way. There is no other way.
No matter what, that's the way it is, because there is no other way.
As an individual, at best, government can be a disinterested third party... or if you are very lucky, its interests can be aligned with yours for a time, on a particular issue or set of issues.
Often, government is just another "special interest" colluding with other "special interests", against your interests; lying to you about it, and stealing from you to pay for it.
At worst governments interests... or the interests it is catering to against yours, in order to gain more power and control... require you be made powerless, or removed; and it strong arms, bankrupts, imprisons, or kills you... And along the way,  maybe it steals everything you and your family had, and labels you as an enemy of all "good people".
Because that's what government is... it's not just a "special interest", it's a "special interest" that has the power and authority, to take from you at gunpoint, force you to comply with its orders, imprison you, and kill you.
Corporations don't have that power. Unions don't have that power. No other special interest has the power to use force against you, without reprisal, except government...
...Or any other interest, that can get government to do it for them. Which seems to be more common than one would prefer...
The true dichotomy, is the concentrated power and force of specially protected institutions and interests... including the special interests of the government itself... vs. the diffuse power and interests of Individuals.
By the by, this isn't some random theory of my own... I'm just simplifying it and stating it in plain language.
In politics, economics, and sociology; these are known as the agency problem, and the problem of concentrated benefit, and diffuse cost. They're inherent to all governments, and in fact in all other collective institutions and efforts, and they cannot be solved, only mitigated at best.
Unfortunately, we can't eliminate either concentrated interests (and concentrated power) in general, or government in particular. Even if we wanted to, it's not actually possible; because individuals with common interest will tend to act together to concentrate power to more effectively act in their own interest etc... etc...
In the extreme, this means that without some countervailing concentration of power to stop them; the strong will always tend to overpower the weak, and the majority will always tend to overpower the minority.
Also, we actually do need a disinterested third party to resolve disputes (courts), to administer property held in commons, and to coordinate collective efforts for the nation as a whole (such as foreign policy and national defense).
So... we can't get rid of special interests, or concentrated interests and powers general, and we can't get rid of government in particular.
Since that is so... Don't you think it would be best if we would give those specially protected institutions and interests, and those concentrations of power against individual interests... as little power as possible?
Because if we give them the power to act in our own interests today... aren't they just going to turn around and use that power to act against our interests, when it's to their advantage to do so later?
I mean... all logic and reason says that's what will happen... and the entire record of history says that's what will happen...
... but maybe it'll be different THIS time... right?