wombat_socho (wombat_socho) wrote,

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Thinking about the singularity and the government

I swear, sometimes when I read a GVDL post like this I think that Steven den Beste has returned to warblogging, since the style is so similar...but GVDL is a Christian, and den Beste is decidedly not, so we can be pretty sure it's not SdB picking up the cudgel again. The post itself makes me think about things like this in the wider context of the Red State/Blue State meme that seems to be obsessing so many people since the 2004 elections.

I think one of the things that's happened to the Democrats is that because they're an alliance of blocs, the leaders of those blocs exert clout out of all proportion to their actual support in the voting populace. The Republicans, on the other hand, are a more feudal party, made up of a bunch of people who are who they are because they were able to convince a bunch of people to support them for some office at the state or federal level. There's a lot of difference between convincing various governors, Congressmen and local party officials to back your candidacy and jumping through the hoops erected by the NAACP, AFL-CIO, Human Rights Campaign and sundry other players in the Democratic Party. This kind of kowtowing to TPTB in the Party has raised a string of losers to the top level of the Democratic Party, as you can see from their Presidential candidates. Clinton was able to game the system, but he was no kind of party leader and was completely unable to prevent the loss of Congress to the Republicans; it's significant that his anointed successor, with all the advantages of incumbency and an apparently sound economy, was unable to defeat his Republican challenger. Since then, things have only gotten worse. The Democrats have only briefly controlled the Senate, and that because a nominal Republican became an "independent"; this advantage soon disappeared as well.

About the only places Democrats can count on their policies being carried out at the national level are the bureaucracy, the judiciary, and the media...though the latter, held in increasingly low regard by the general public, doesn't have nearly the influence it had just twenty years ago, when there really was no alternative to what is now disparagingly called MSM, the mainstram media. In a similar way, people are reacting to the increasing politicization of public education by pulling their kids out of those schools and either home-schooling the kids or sending them to charter schools not under the thumb of the local educrats.

What really worries me about the whole national culture clash, though, is that the Supremes don't seem content to leave bad enough alone. As the Wall Street Journal's editorial staff correctly says, "This was not a good decision for anyone who believes there are Constitutional limits on the federal leviathan." It's bad enough that the Feds have wandered far astray from the happy days when Madison could veto a highway bill (and make it stick) because building highways in the several states was no business of the Federal government, but the Raich case effectively means that the Bill of Rights' 10th Amendment is a dead letter - the Court has established that the Feds can exploit the Interstate Commerce clause to regulate anything they please, and the states be hanged.

This means, in the long term, that the gloves are off. The states will be left to deal only with whatever civil and criminal matters as Congress deigns beneath its attention; all meaningful decisions about our nation will be made in Washington. This is not what the Founders had in mind, to say the least, and I feel betrayed by Justice Scalia on this one. I thought better of the man. At least Justice Thomas kept the faith; all those nattering nabobs who accused him of being nothing more than Scalia's lackey owe him an apology, though I shan't hold my breath waiting for it; he, being far smarter than I, probably isn't even thinking about it.

As for the idiots yammering about a theocracy, congratulations. Your last stronghold in government has just made it easier to accomplish, assuming for a moment that Americans somehow manage to fall under the sway of some religion that appeals to 51% of the voting population. The Chicken Littles who run around screaming about the Dominionists don't seem to realize that a healthy chunk of the observant Christians in this country think these people are a bunch of stone loonies. We won't even mention the Mormons, Muslims or Orthodox Jews, none of whom would be too thrilled about a bunch of fundamentalist gentiles/infidels taking charge.
Doctor Bob hits the nail on the head:
This theology has shallow, narrow roots in American Christianity. If this is what the Dowds, the Krugmans, the Gores, and the Moveon.org crowd dread, perhaps they should purchase a nightlight so that things aren’t so scary where they sleep, in the dark...Wildly hyperbolic accusations such as these about an American administration and those who purportedly control it–dark predictions of assassinations, Salem witch trials, or an Inquisition–do not possess even a remote basis in reality.

Which, bizarrely enough, ties in with concerns about the Singularity. One of the cool things about the Federal system is that states could play around with different ways of doing things to see what worked best. Ideas usually spread rapidly from state to state as their (apparent) success became evident, and by the same token ideas that didn't work quickly died out or were rejected as unsuitable by different states. Unfortunately, starting with Griswold v. Connecticut in 1965 and culminating with Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decided that certain issues were off limits to politicians...perversely enough, energizing millions of people to work towards the replacement of that kind of elitist judge with judges that would pay more attention to the Constitutional limits on the federal government. Jim Bennett, in his book The Anglosphere Challenge, talks about the rapid pace of scientific and technological development and suggests that a distributive form of government like ours might be best fitted to deal with that sort of rapid change. Unfortunately, if the Supremes have decided that the best thing for us is to be a superstate a la the Soviet Union or France, we may well have lost the opportunity to ride the wave of change and instead may tumble into the dustbin of history like our former enemies in Moscow, whose socioeconomic system collapsed under the strain of competition from the more advanced Western nations - specifically us and Japan.

With human lifespans expanding, it seems pretty clear to me that we need to find an alternative to lifetime tenure for both academics and judges. We are already dealing with the consequences of having politicians hang around for decades, long after the problems they were originally elected to deal with have passed and their thought processes have ossified. If we don't get rid of lifetime tenure for judges, we're either going to have to resort to impeachment, which has rarely been possible in a political sense, or the solution suggested by Randall Garrett in "The Hunting Lodge", which, while effective, is very much contrary to the American tradition.

In essence, we need to reform the Federal government and return it to its roots: distributed, enumerated power, without any permanent political class, whether it be elective or bureaucratic. Civil service reforms were a good idea in the 19th century, but in an era where literacy is widespread and public attention is more easily focused on governmental screwups, the civil service is a liability we can't afford any more than tenured academic and judicial castes...yes, I'm arguing for a return to patronage, but with a reduced Federal government, there'll be far less scope for it. And that would be a good thing.
Tags: culture & politics

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