Never Waste a Crisis

Civic crises usually result in a public outcry from politicians and the media, followed by bipartisan panel discussions and hearings, speeches and posturing, anguished compromises, and finally, by public acceptance of a costly “solution”, typically in the form of taxes and fees levies borne by the citizenry. An alien observing United States government operations – city, state and Federal – might conclude that the principal function is the collection and redistribution of resources to favored groups which help politicians win elections. It’s a fairly straightforward quid pro quo. The welfare of the people who politicians supposedly represent, and the future welfare of unborn generations seem to have become a secondary consideration, if even a factor at all. The American political/democratic process can simply be considered a case of manufacturing consent, as Noam Chomsky observed, to comply with the formal requirements of the Constitution. Special interest groups, such as government employee unions control the Democratic agenda, while wealthy corporations, bankers and individuals are represented by the Republicans. The former  groups seek to continually increase their share of current and future revenue, while the latter groups seek to limit the portion that they are compelled to pay to satisfy that demand. Left unrepresented are those who cannot afford lobbyists, media and spin consultants, and election machines, and so they are left holding the bag. The least represented are future generations, leading to the well-recognized phenomenon of “kicking the can down the road”, ie borrowing, so that future taxpayers are left with the tab for current expenditures and distributions. Legislators beholden to the plaintiff’s bar have invented a new twist, by regularly manufacturing new torts and regulations with”attorneys fees” clauses, with the result that such fees greatly exceed any  actual or imagined damage to the supposed victims. In such cases, insurance companies which pay settlements are the collection mechanism to socialize the cost of such non-productive exactions from the economy. Of course, rationales have to be invented to justify funding the various programs that comprise the budget. When this is clearly understood, the (in)effectiveness of government programs and functions can easily be understood as efficiently providing the excuse for further expenditures. Most elections are simply a competition between the various interest groups for the division of the spoils, in the case of San Francisco, some $ 7 billion per year, in the case of California about $ 150 billion per year, and in the case of the Federal government, almost $ 4 trillion dollars per year. If crises did not occur due to mismanagement and unavoidable circumstances, perhaps they might have to be deliberately manufactured periodically, as needed, to satisfy the cupidity of those who control the machinery of government.

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