Monday, March 31, 2008

Political Power


I’m coming to the conclusion that the thing we get stuck on is that political power exists and can be misused, and the only remedy for that is to institutionalize some of it (create politics / a democracy / a tax collection scheme) so that the misuse can be forced to the lowest possible level.  I use the term political power to mean the kind of influence over a person that makes them follow without thinking and choosing first.

I’ve run up against this in my own mind several times: people are dumb enough to think it is good and right for “rulers” to force us to pay for what they decide is “the common good”. My arguments mostly come in the form of saying that isn’t good and right. But I realize that it doesn’t matter whether it is good and right because as long as enough people think it is, there will be political power, and it justifies its own existence - as a check on its misuse.

But I think we as a species are slowly realizing that our own efforts (what we earn as individuals) should be used as we ourselves see fit - that capitulating to the demand for revenue from anyone (elected ruler or not) is bad for us as individuals and as a species. I hope to accelerate the pace of this realization. Or else…

If it just isn’t true - my “realization” - then I’d like to find my way to seeing how yielding to the coercive demands of others for any portion of my efforts (earnings) can be good. The alternative is that I decide myself how to use those efforts/earnings, and if my decision is good, that’s excellent, and if it is bad, I will suffer and learn. The idea behind rulers and taxes is to take that decision away from me and I just don’t see how that could be good.

Healthcare is interesting to me because it comes down to this: we will NEVER have enough resources to adequately care for everyone given the modern ideas of “adequate care”. One of the ugly truths we have to accept is that some people will suffer and/or die for lack of care that they could have gotten if someone else provided the resources - some will be under-served. Any policy is going to establish some kind of answer as to who will be under-served. Without a policy, it will certainly be the underprivileged and the poor. But I can’t accept that as a reason to create a policy. I see as much value (often more, in fact) in the lives of people who are not poor than in those who are. I am OK with the idea that any policy creates problems.  Having no policy allows some problems to remain, but hose remaining problems are what we should really, individually, be working to solve. This applies to healthcare and every other area of government.

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Old Comments

  • This is really really an important piece of writing! I absolutely agree that the formulation of a policy does not precisely stand for democracy. Choosing a person as a leader is altogether different from agreeing with that person’s policies (which are more of his own interests or those he is loyal to. We need a communal form of life. I can’t help agreeing with Karl Marx here. I wish he were among us and could somehow reconcile the freedom of capitalism with the concern for communal well being. Excellent Piece! Thanks for sharing!

    Posted by Prometheus  on  04/03  at  05:26 AM
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