via Throw the Rascals Out? – Thomas Sowell –
Polls indicate that the public is so disgusted with Washington politicians of both parties that a surprisingly large proportion of the people would like to get rid of the whole lot of them.
It is certainly understandable that the voters would like to "throw the rascals out." But there is no point in throwing the rascals out, if we are just going to get a new set of rascals to replace them.
In other words, we need to think about what there is about current political practices that repeatedly bring to power such a counterproductive set of people. Those we call "public servants" have in fact become public masters. And they act like it.
They squander ever more vast amounts of our tax money, and still leave trillions of dollars of national debt to be paid by our children and grandchildren. They intrude into our private lives with ever more restrictions, red tape and electronic surveillance. And they turn different groups of Americans against each other with class warfare rhetoric and policies.
None of this is inevitable. In fact, this pattern is largely the culmination of political trends set in motion during the 1930s, and reaching a climax today. During the 1920s, the national debt was reduced and the role of government scaled back. Unemployment went as low as 1.8 percent.
President Calvin Coolidge, with every prospect of being reelected in 1928, declared simply: "I do not choose to run." Later, in his memoirs, he explained how dangerous it is to have anyone remain too long in the White House, surrounded by flattery and insulated from reality. What a contrast that attitude is with the attitude of the current occupant of the White House!
The contrast extends beyond these two presidents. What we have today that we did not have in the early history of this country is a permanent political class in Washington — a Congress and an ever growing federal bureaucracy composed of people who have become a permanent ruling class.
The United States was not founded by career politicians but by people who took time out from their regular professions to serve during a crucial time in the creation of a new nation, and a new kind of nation in a world ruled by kings and emperors.
Read more: Throw the Rascals Out? – Thomas Sowell – part 1 and Throw the Rascals Out?: Part II – Thomas Sowell – Page full.
The public’s opinion of politicians of both parties seems to have reached a new low. But no matter how much the voters detest Congress — or how justifiably — that does not mean that there will be radical changes at the next election.
For one thing, \"Congress\" is not on the ballot. Only individual members of Congress are. Most voters like their own Senator or Representative, often because of special favors that these incumbents have done for their own constituency — at the taxpayers\’ expense.
Add to this the so-called \"campaign reform\" laws that restrict the raising of money that challengers need, in order to counter the millions of dollars\’ worth of free advertising that incumbents get through ordinary media coverage, enhanced by the incumbents\’ sponsoring of ever more legislation, expanding the role of government.
The very longevity of incumbents in Congress makes it expedient for them to treat each other as \"facts of life\" — people with whom you have to \"go along to get along.\" One of their common interests as incumbents is reelection. This can lead to all sorts of bipartisan log-rolling legislation to hand out the taxpayers\’ money in ways that benefit incumbents of both parties.
In short, longevity in office can create more longevity in office. Moreover, this longevity can attract campaign contributions from special interests who expect something in return — if only a lightening up on government restrictions and red tape.
Many among the intelligentsia prefer to think of special interests as corrupting our dedicated public servants with campaign contributions. But Peter Schweizer\’s new book, \"Extortion,\" shows what happens as the extorting of tribute by politicians in a position to do a lot of harm to businesses that do not pay them protection money.
via Throw the Rascals Out?: Part II – Thomas Sowell – Page full.