posted at 1:21 am on October 15, 2010 by Doctor Zero
Watching the polls in tight races fluctuate over the last few days conjures an image of frightened people racing around the feet of a blind giant. Blind giants are dangerous. They cause massive amounts of random destruction as they flail around. It’s very hard to convince them to change course, when they plod toward certain doom.
There is no question that our centralized government is gigantic. Those who support the idea of a gigantic State believe our affairs should be managed by a concentration of power and money, at the disposal of a brilliant and moral ruling class. Only a giant government, staffed with selfless and highly educated public servants, can prevent our economy from collapsing, or provide us with affordable health care.
Intelligence requires information. The most brilliant intellect cannot make meaningful decisions in a state of sensory deprivation. False knowledge passes through a perfect system to emerge as useless garbage.
Where does the leviathan State get its information? It relies on the testimony of “experts,” even though many of them – climate change advocates, lobbyists, political appointees with connections to aggressive outside interests – have agendas that make their input unreliable. The State spends a lot of time listening to the media, who are also unreliable sources, their data warped by agendas and preconceptions. The ideology of politicians tells them what should be true, and they proceed to cherry-pick data to support their prejudices. Very little of the State’s information comes from the kind of dispassionate scientific analysis it always pretends to be conducting.
The free market, on the other hand, has access to a rich stream of high-speed data, coming from the last input Big Government is willing to consider: you.
You have virtually no input into the decision-making process of the national government. You might reply that you wouldn’t expect to have very much to say, since you’re one voter among millions… but you would be underestimating the problem. It’s not just that you personally have limited input, any more than you personally control the behavior of Microsoft or Wal-Mart. Rather, we have very little input collectively. The desires of your family, plus everyone you know, plus the membership of every organization you belong to, can barely scratch the thick hide of a titanic central government.
This is not merely a question of arrogance or elitism. A single central authority cannot consider the input of all the opposed interests in a huge, dynamic national economy. It doesn’t matter how genuinely selfish or compassionate the executives and legislators of the State might be. There are too many people, moving in too many different directions, for the eye of the State to follow them all. Instead, compromises must be struck between the demands of powerful constituencies. Groups hostile to the ruling Party are marginalized, paying the price for supporting the opposition, as the Chamber of Commerce could tell you.
Small, eccentric groups and individuals have no input into the decisions of the State at all. This is not to say they are ignored. No one is ignored. Big Government is absolutely horrible at dealing with dissent. No one can be allowed to go their own way. No one can decline to participate in taxes and regulations. Certain large and powerful interests might be granted waivers from a horrible law like ObamaCare, but no such consideration will ever be extended to individuals. The passage of ObamaCare was the official end of the State’s interest in hearing your thoughts about the way health care should be administered. You will not be permitted to disregard the State’s opinions on the matter.
In a free society, even the largest businesses have competitors, and grow jealous of their market share. The biggest player in any industry can bet that small, hungry competitors are designing business plans to attack their weaknesses. The decisions of consumers become an incredibly powerful stream of data, which companies must interpret and respond to within a matter of days or weeks.
Decentralized, limited government can also tap into this data stream, in a more limited fashion, as populations and businesses abandon unfriendly environments and poorly-managed municipalities, or correct local governments with relatively competitive elections. Local voters can become truly informed about the issues. Popular will has a real chance to alter the destiny of towns and counties.
All of this priceless information is nothing but water lapping at the toes of the blind federal giant. Even massive “wave” elections, driven by the most passionate and informed electorate in a generation, may not be enough to reverse the effects of radical power grabs, or halt the feeding frenzy of lame ducks in a shallow congressional pond. The current ruling Party has taken to explicitly stating that voters cannot possibly understand the issues, and are not qualified to pass judgment on their betters in Washington. Massive bills have been passed over deafening howls of popular opposition… and in some states, the opposition has already faded away, leaving voters ready to re-elect politicians who hold them in open contempt.
It will take an incredible, historic election merely to slow the relentless advance of the blind giant. It has paused, in these last weeks before November. It can dimly hear the screaming of people with pitchforks and torches, far below. It must be cut down to its knees before it can understand a word they’re saying. The senses of the State are so dull that it only pays attention to miracles.
Cross-posted at www.doczero.org.
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