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Sunday, February 13, 2011

A Tyranny of Minorities

"I have scant patience with this talk of the tyranny of the majority. Wherever there is tyranny of the majority, I shall protest against it with all my heart and soul. But we are today suffering from the tyranny of minorities."

Theodore Roosevelt

The modern debate over government is based on offering Americans a choice between two minority monopolies of power. Government controlled corporations or corporate controlled government. Two extremes, both of which monopolize power in the hands of a small number of powerful and influential people. And deprive ordinary citizens of their rights. Because a tyranny of the minority is still a tyranny-- regardless of what its guise is. And either corporate controlled government or government controlled corporations mean a totalitarian state serving the interests of a small group. The only debate is over which small group will benefit the most from the oppression of the majority.

The debate between government controlled corporations and corporate controlled government is mostly irrelevant. Because we have both.

We have the ObamaCare mandate which forces Americans to buy a specific type of product from a specific type of company. It's not the worst such example, only the broadest. Companies have been using government power to force the public to buy their products, to outlaw competition and make it impossible for small businesses and independent contractors to earn a living-- for a long time now.

Take the recent ban on the incandescent light bulb for example. It's not as direct as the ObamaCare mandate, but it accomplishes the same basic goal. Even more indirectly, food safety regulations, such as the even more recent FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, helps push out organic and small farms, in favor of large industries. Paradoxically, or not so paradoxically, a great deal of the government legislation that is supposedly intended to protect the "little guy" has that effect. It's one of the reasons why the rise of big government has gone hand in hand with the decline of small business.

Then there are strategic ways to structure the tax code so as to push out small businesses and independent contractors from certain industries. Senators urged on by lobbyists have effectively destroyed competition entirely with such structured tax codes. Then there are huge subsidies, fortune poured down the gullets of companies and industries with access, all at taxpayer expense. Subsidies that generally do not produce anything of value. And of course there's the even more recent stimulus plan. Or Cap and Trade, which will reward some at the expense of the majority.

Is such behavior a symptom of corporate controlled government, or government controlled corporations? The damnedest thing of it, is that it's both at the same time.

Tyrannies are naturally oligarchic. Powerful men and women will find that their interests intersect more with each other, than with anyone outside their circle. It's why Democratic and Republican elected officials will  generally find more common ground in conference rooms, than at town halls with their voters. And why this phenomenon is more markedly so at the Senate level, than in the House of Representatives. The division between big government and big business is tenuous at best, because both have intersecting financial interests. Politicians need their lobbyists. And lobbyists need their politicians.

The tyranny of minorities is a melding of interests. Power flows horizontally, but not vertically. The line between government and corporations blurs. Politicians move back and forth between the two, between political office, non-profits, lobbies and regulatory organizations. Power forms its own complex. The melding of interests dictates its own politics. Ideology becomes a tool for monopolizing power, not democratizing it. And each attempt to monopolize power adds new layers to the existing power structures, and makes them less efficient and less accountable. Obama's czar madness is an excellent example of this kind of power expansion run amok.

Investing regulatory power in government makes it more appealing, not less. Which is why Democrats have rarely had any problems finding billionaires to support them. It does not lead to transparency. And it certainly doesn't help the little guy, because the larger a system is, the farther away it is from the little guy. Adding regulation makes a system larger, not friendlier or more transparent or more accessible. Just larger. And that makes it more compatible with other large systems. And with more comprehensive solutions that ride roughshod over everyone without access.

In 1912, Theodore Roosevelt's proposed solution to the impasse was direct democracy, public referendums, public recall of congressmen and judges as a check on the tyranny of minorities. But Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal instead ushered in a vast government bureaucracy which further disempowered the public, leading to the current state of affairs. The progressive plank is still a promise to stand against a monopoly of power by business interests, but their alternative is the monopoly of power by politicians who get elected only by taking and directing money to those business interests-- and an army of unelected bureaucrats who are not accountable to the people in any way, shape or form.

The liberal hatred of referendums shows up their claim that they fight for the interests of the people. If they really believed that, as Theodore Roosevelt did, they wouldn't constantly try to sideline, ban or ridicule direct democracy out of existence. As is the case in California. They wouldn't need to do that if they really believed that their agenda had the public's support. Direct democracy is a threat to their monopolization of power by politicians, judges and bureaucrats. It undermines their ability to fund the sources and institutions of their own power by constantly raising taxes.

Instead of direct democracy, liberals prefer to work through "community groups" which funnel aid money through their own local activists. Community group leaders and organizers then put on a show of representing the community to the politicians. And on election day, the community leaders use government funds to "teach" their community to vote for the party line. This sham is a key element in the Democratic party's hijacking of much of the urban and minority vote. It is a slight update and reworking of the old corrupt Democratic party's political machines.

Then there are the collective groups, most notoriously unions, which forcibly enlist members or solicit them on a non-political basis, only to turn them into the broader arm of a political party. And then liberals insist with a straight face that their plantation community groups and hired union protesters are somehow more representative of the people than a referendum would be. And when a referendum does happen, a Democratic party judge will find a way to strike it down because it violates his interpretation of what the law should be.

There you have the liberal monopoly of power in all its glory. Political machines, manufactured consent and hollow propaganda. The three legs of the stool of which the armies of bureaucrats who oversee its empire of regulations sit. Regulations that always fall disproportionately harder on those who don't have access to power.

Paying for those armies, not just in the system, but outside it, the public sector unions, the community based entitlements and the countless non-profits who suckle very profitably on the taxpayer teat, requires more and more money. Higher and higher taxes. Property values go up. The middle class ends up being squeezed out. And then all that remain, are the rich and the poor, the mansion and the housing project. While their political and economic murder of the middle class is yet another crime that goes uninvestigated.

But let's turn to the other side for a moment. Despite a strong consensus against illegal immigration, why has the Republican party refused to do anything since the days of Eisenhower. Why indeed, did Bush and McCain, the former President and the most recent presidential candidate, both push for legalizing illegal aliens. There are a number of answers, but the bottom line is because industries lobbies want is that way. Because they want cheap labor, whether it's Muslim tech workers coming to do the jobs that Americans would do, but for less, or Mexicans slipping across the border to work for less, it comes down to the money.

Then there's the terrorism question. Why don't we actually go after the biggest sponsors of terrorists in Saudi Arabia or Qatar or the UAE? That would be the same reason why we let the Saudi royals nationalize an American oil company, and compensated the company using taxpayer money. Or why after 9/11, we still haven't fixed the same broken immigration system that lets Saudis breeze through into the United States. Or why the Bush Administration was outraged that anyone questioned the Dubai Ports World deal that would have turned over American ports to a government with ties to Islamic terrorism.

No matter how much Americans might have wanted to see the Saudis slapped down, the invisible Saudi lobby is an American lobby, oil companies, security firms, law firms, retired generals and congressmen who happen to run companies that help our Middle Eastern friends do business here. And many of them have deeper roots inside the Republican party than anyone would like to think about. And they have gotten much further inside the corridors of powers than any grass roots Tea Partier normally would.

What the tyranny of minorities really means is that the majority is not represented. Its opinion is not solicited or wanted. It is expected to go out and do what it's told. And warned against stepping an inch out of line. It is regulated, litigated and exploited in a game of chess played by the powerful against the less powerful.

The tyranny of the majority should not eclipse the guaranteed freedoms upon which the covenant of government is based. But it should certainly be able to outweigh those tyrannies of minorities which insist on monopolizing power over the people in their own hands. And it is vitally important to remember that their best instrument for monopolizing power is government itself.

8 comments:

lemon said...

Money talks and Saudis pay off a lot of people.

Keli Ata said...

You said it all.

HermitLion said...

Few bother to go a century back in time to dig for the truth, Sultan. The insights that history teaches us are priceless, and one cannot fully understand a problem without first seeing what went wrong.

I know Israeli regulation strangles small businesses. It is sad to learn it happens in the US too.

Maybe all those loyal Saudi immigrants can help?

Paul said...

Our corrupt and derelict immigration administration has nothing to do with corporations and everything to do with the Catholic Church and Islam. The only corporate connection is where Catholics and Muslims control the economy and engineer the economy to create jobs for illegals instead of educated citizens. These illegals overwhelming come from Catholic and Muslim countries where the birth rate is necessary in order to secure global political power through mob rule.

Greg RN said...

Too bad the average American can't read this and lacks the cognizance to be pissed off, if they had an ounce of self respect and moral vision, they would not be so easily manipulated by Politicians.
At least Teddy had some testicular fortitude, America's demise started in 1913 with the creation of the Federal Reserve, that is when the Government was usurped, true evil and it's type of spineless men have been pulling the levers ever since.
Thanks again Daniel for saying it like it is, at least someone knows how to speak the truth, you are the antidote to stupidity and arrogance in Washington.

Anonymous said...

There are plenty of comments about the `Jewish Lobby' and how it helps Israel. We have all these books and papers by the ton about its `disproportionate influence' in Washington. You must have noticed how no one dares write the truth about the Arab lobby, or how the Saudi ambassador holds court in Washington and how the oil rich Arab states can get whatever they want with no questions asked. But then, it is safe to criticise Israel (no one hacks your head off), but if you dare question the Arab lobby - well, things are not safe anymore. We don't need enemies - our own will do more to finish us off than any enemies.

Walking Horse said...

The model described here, which I believe is a fair approximation of reality, is in fact a variation on an old theme - Fascism. The PC term employed today is "Crony Capitalism", and Mussolini's preferred term was "Corporatism".

One businesses and government enter the deadly embrace of intertwined interests, it is difficult to see how this is unraveled short of general collapse. This model is almost inevitable once government is sufficiently large and is granted powers to manipulate the business climate. For the United States, this inevitability was almost surely sealed by the passage of the Interstate Commerce Act in 1887.

Nobody should be surprised that foreign interests are players inside the US Fascist model as well.

Keli Ata said...

Re anonymous--yeah, I also wonder about the paranoia about the Jewish Lobby when Israel typically gets royally screwed.

Ditto for Israel controlling the media. Israel wouldn't be so desperate for good PR if it controlled the media.


Paranoia.


In any event, what a world of differnce between Teddy and FDR

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