Conquest's Law, Power, and Draining the Swamp 2

We've created a system that drives accountability away from power.

There is really not much that the people of these United States agree on anymore, but if there's anything at all, it's this: our government is not operating properly, either as desired or as designed, and is not responsive to the demands of either faction of The People who should be its masters.  Most of the unusual political events of the past several decades can be understood as attempts by The People to grab control of the reigns, and our elites unanimously collaborating to deny them their right to do this.

We could blame this on humankind's lust for power, but that's too easy: are people today more power-mad than Genghis Khan, Napoleon, or even Andrew Jackson or Woodrow Wilson?  Of course not.  Something has gone badly wrong in our national culture that's poisoning and degrading our systems.

In the first article in this series, we explored how power has become disconnected from responsibility, accountability, or consequences.  The American people desire to hold their leaders accountable for their manifest failures, but it's extremely hard to pin down that responsibility to any name on a ballot.  Power and responsibility have become so spread throughout our elite strata as to diffuse responsibility away from anywhere it can actually be assigned, personally blamed, and punished should the need arise.

Let's revisit an analogy from a striking article in Gray Mirror:

Yale has declined. Yale is made of people and ideas. It is quite implausible that psychometric tests would show a great difference in the intelligence of its students and professors between 1951 and 2021-and they might well come out in favor of the latter.

Which suggests that any problem is with the ideas-that bad ideas in the humanities have in some way flourished at Yale (and everywhere else)-like toxic green algae in a once-blue mountain lake. Now why would that happen?

It must be related to the pattern of selective advantage in this marketplace of ecology. Maybe a nearby pig farm has unleashed a flood of sewage into the lake. Pig manure is a nutrient which alters the pattern of selective advantage in the lake, making it easier to exist as a stinking algal bloom and harder to flourish as a happy rainbow trout.

Piled Higher and Deeper

Is power like pig manure?  In many ways, yes - it is highly beneficial to growth and productivity when spread around.  The closer power gets to the lowest levels of society where everyday people live, the more society thrives.  When power, like manure, is piled up endlessly in one place, it is utterly toxic and any sane person wants to be ten miles away from it.

Only people with no sense of smell - or psychopaths - can stand to be anywhere near such a festering pile, much less revel in its depths like Uncle Scrooge McDuck does with his money bin.  Is it any wonder that 99% of our politicians are either psychopaths or have no moral sense of the stink that surrounds them?

One of the mysteries that's distressed Scragged for lo these many years is how our Founders failed so utterly to predict the accumulation and concentration of power that we've seen.  The whole point of our Constitution was to separate power into different rival power centers and set them in conflict with each other to keep the power-greedy occupied and out of the hair of common folk.

So, we have states, and a federal government.  Our Founders expected the legislatures and governors of the states to be very jealous of their powers, thus providing a natural limit to how big the federal government could ever get.  Similarly, because the federal government was larger and superior to the state governments, if one state ever went wild in oppressing its citizens then they could appeal to the Feds for an intervention.

We saw an exact example of this in 1957 where the State of Alabama refused to provide equal protection for black American children who simply wished to attend a public school paid for by their families' tax dollars, and President Eisenhower sent in the 101st Airborne to enforce their rights.

But we don't see too much pushback in the other direction, and now we know why: for the most part, state legislatures and governors have allowed their responsibility to "leak" upward to the Feds via taxing power.  States have always held the power to build roads, for example, but when Eisenhower offered federal funds to build interstate highways, the states leaped at the offer to get visibly useful infrastructure paid for by taxes that they, themselves, didn't have to bear any political price for raising.

By doing so, they lost a great deal of their previous power over design, route, standards, etc.  In the case of transportation infrastructure this is arguably for the best, and it's certainly Constitutional given that interstate commerce is expressly the remit of the national government.

We can argue a contrary view, of course.  The first year after President Eisenhower signed the law, 9,000 miles of Interstate, or 36,000 lane-miles, were built.

More recently, the State of New Hampshire has been trying for 12 years to add 2 lanes each way to the southernmost 18 miles of I-93.  That's about 6 lane-miles per year, or one hundredth of one percent of what we were able to build years ago.  This is mostly due to government regulations which get in the way of the bulldozers.  Perhaps letting road-building authority leak ever upward isn't working out for the best anymore.

What about education?  Over the years, the federal government has increased the amount of education grants sent down from On High with an increasing cat's cradle of strings.

Now, Joe Biden has decreed that mentally ill individuals suffering from gender dysphoria must be allowed to dress, shower, change, and compete in sports teams of the gender they imagine themselves to be, rather than that which is objectively declared by their genetic chromosomes and visible physical equipment.  What gives him the power to do this?  The Federal dollars that will be withheld from any institutions that dare stand up for reality.

Any mayor, governor, principal, or university president is faced with a hard choice: protect the girls and ladies under their care from predators masquerading as the mentally ill (or, as the case may be, from genuinely mentally-ill people), and give up millions of dollars in Federal funding that they don't have to be responsible for the taxes to raise?  Or stick with what they know to be true and right, but shoulder the financial burden and accompanying political cost?

In other words - they passed some portion of their fund-raising responsibilities to the central regime, which is now demanding the accompanying power.

To his credit, Joe Biden personally signed this order, and when the inevitable horrors and disasters ensue, we will all know exactly who to blame, assuming that he knew what he was signing.  This is rare: as we move forward into the Biden administration, all manner of evils will ensue that don't bear his personal stamp, having merely emanated from anonymous bureaucrats backed up by supposedly independent experts.

Dr. Fauci or Dr. Faust?

How independent and expert are they, though?  In the last year, we've just seen a world-class illustration proving that "scientists" are no priestly caste, but rather, fallible men who repeatedly show themselves prey to all the avarice and self-dealing which is common to human beings.  Perhaps you have heard of Dr. Anthony Fauci, supposedly America's leading expert on communicable disease?  In reality, he hasn't seen a patient this millennium; he is a well-spoken medical bureaucrat, nothing more.

And a year ago, you'd never heard of him.  Then across his desk came reports of a viral disease being reported in Wuhan, China.

At this point, Dr. Fauci had a choice to make.  He could have told his political masters the truth - that covid-19 was a coronavirus much like many thousands of others.  Yes, it is contagious.  Yes, it kills people, just as the seasonal flu kills tens or hundreds of thousands of elderly or ailing Americans every year to little public concern.  Yes, trying to develop a vaccine would be money well spent.

But, generally speaking, once a virus enters the population, it is basically impossible to eliminate it or even stop the spread all that much; we just have to fight it with the tools we have and wait it out.

This, more or less, is exactly what Dr. Fauci himself did ten years ago, when a strikingly similar new disease emerged from the same part of the world, the swine flu.  He gave his then-master, President Barack Obama, and the rest of the country commonsense advice to use good judgment that every sane person can agree with:

"Parents should not send their kids to school if they're sick, if you're sick don't go to work . avoid places where there are people who are sick and coughing, now that's a difficult thing to do," he said. ".You can't isolate yourself from the rest of the world for the whole flu season."

It appears that tens of millions of Americans were infected by swine flu, and thousands killed.  Today, we are told that hundreds of thousands of Americans have died from covid, but that's known to be false.  Indeed, the provable trajectories of these two diseases are quite similar.

Johns Hopkins University posted a report showing that covid hadn't increased overall deaths measurably when compared to other years, "Surprisingly, the deaths of older people stayed the same before and after COVID-19," and that covid "wasn't alarming."  This report was quickly taken down, ostensibly because it might be "used to support dangerous inaccuracies."  We're convinced it was taken down because it was disproving dangerous inaccuracies endorsed by our power elites for political purposes.

Ten years ago, Dr. Fauci's advice allowed the swine-flu pandemic to pass through America causing barely a hiccup, in no way disturbing President Obama's march to re-election.  Dr. Fauci himself remained in national anonymity.

This time around, though, what a different response!  Dr. Fauci demanded, and got, the complete upheaval of America's life and economy - oh, and coincidentally, the removal of a Republican president who'd previously been cruising toward a landslide re-election.  On a personal basis, the role of Dr. Fauci has been played on TV by no less than Brad Pitt, and according to Forbes magazine, he is the highest-paid employee in the entire Federal government.  That's right: he rakes in more than the President he dethroned, had Donald Trump seen fit to keep his Presidential salary rather than donate it back to the government.

Dr. Fauci makes more than the elected President.  He holds more actual power over the lives of Americans than did George Washington, or any other President through at least FDR.  Yet does he bear any responsibility whatsoever?   Have his well-documented and publicly admitted lies affected his public esteem one iota?  No.

Does it disturb him that suicides and bankruptcies caused by his utterly ineffective mandates and closures have gone through the roof?  We can't see inside his heart, but he certainly doesn't act like it, and there's no chance he'll pay any price for the tens of thousands of needless deaths his actions caused.

Yet, understandably, the vast stinking fetid lake of abandoned responsibility has to go somewhere, and since Fauci won't carry his fair share, it leaks into utterly justifiable loss of trust in his CDC, the FDA, other health-related government agencies, and the government as a whole.

The True Meaning of Trump

Since The Donald descended his golden escalator what seems like a lifetime ago, observers have been trying to discern what Americans were trying to say by plumping for him.  Distrust of national institutions?  Of course!  Hatred for conventional politicians?  Certainly!  A deep desire to upset the applecart?  Without doubt!

But Americans don't revolt in the way other peoples do, with tanks and guillotines.  They prefer a more orderly, republican style of revolution - a true wish to solve problems, not just destroy.

And if you look at our collapsing institutions, sinking into the fetid manure-laden swamp of rejected responsibility, one can see the real message: America wanted someone who would rejoin the power to the responsibility that is its natural mate.

These days, that can only be found in the business world.  Like a bureaucrat, an executive vice president is expected to consult with outside experts on any number of subjects.

Unlike the bureaucrat, though, the executive is not protected from failure by pointing to a white paper that guided his mistakes.  He's judged, and fired or promoted, on whether what he does works - no more and no less.

It didn't matter whether developer Donald Trump dotted all the Ts and crossed all the Is - what mattered was that his buildings got built in the real world and that tenants were willing to spend their own hard-earned money for the right to occupy space in them.  He famously fixed ice rinks that a whole army of city bureaucrats could do nothing to repair.  He was a man who lived in reality, and molded it to his will without excuse.

Yes, he reveled in the esteem his accomplishments brought him, but that's the whole point - Americans are happy to adulate people of great accomplishment.  Techies know that the great greed of three men - Bill Gates, Andy Grove, and Steve Jobs, coupled with their creativity, imagination, and hard work, gave us smartphones.  Even lefties who think that these men don't deserve what we consider to be the just rewards for giving us such useful gifts enjoy their smartphones.

In contrast, we find it infuriating to be expected to kowtow to apparatchiks who demand respect and obedience simply by virtue of their position, without ever accomplishing anything of real value - which describes just about every other politician extant.

Of course, it didn't take long for Mr. Trump's enemies to take advantage of his strength by attempting to blame him for literally everything under the sun, most particularly their own actions - the infamous "children in cages" lie stretching straight through to the lie that Mr. Trump's speech incited the preplanned Capitol riot.

Americans, many of them, realize his unarguable worth - what sort of twice-impeached president could still hold an approval rating of more than half in the most consistently accurate poll?  Even combining all the major polls, with their known biases and utter failures of late, he still rants far higher than, say, George W. Bush when he left office.  NBC polls, not know for their fairness to Mr. Trump, found his approval rating tied with Joe Biden's and higher than Kamala Harris' on Inauguration Day.

As are we all, Mr. Trump is flawed as a man and as a leader, but Americans are on to something: he cares more about results and reality than the Beltway bandits, and less about form and flourishes.

The difficulty is that the swamp, having suffered a near-death experience that required them to cheat on such a vast scale that almost every independent-minded thinker believes they cheated, will move heaven and earth to prevent anyone competent from rising in politics ever again.  Soon after the 2016 election, the MSM realized to their horror that they'd created The Donald as a credible politician - the more they criticized him, the more thousands of deplorables who despised the establishment clung to him.

We've seen how Twitter and friends have deplatformed most of Mr. Trump's associates, and we've reported that even Forbes, which used to be a Capitalist Tool, has threatened to criticize any business that hired anyone who served in the Trump administration.

We look forward to seeing how Mr. Trump plans to get around those obstacles when he takes another bite of the apple.  The swamp is still there, ever festering and ever growing.  It must be drained, before it drowns us all.

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other articles by Petrarch or other articles on Partisanship.
Reader Comments

Why is this any surprise? Avoiding accountability is an art bureaucracies have been perfecting every since bureaucracy was invented. You said that was 5,000 years ago, give or take. They've certainly learned how to do it.

Is society collapse the only way to fix it?

February 8, 2021 5:14 AM

"It must be drained, before it drowns us all."

Yup, you are totally correct ... and there's not a chance that "the draining of the swamp" is gonna happen ... not short of the very real chance of the total collapse of the U.S.

Again, I'm glad I'm old.

February 8, 2021 12:28 PM

I'm looking forward to the continuation of this series. So far, off to a good start.

I was speaking with a friend this morning about one of the points in of this article... the lack of term limits along with no mechanism for we the people to hold politicians and swamp denizens accountable and apply consequences when they fail to perform satisfactorily. Seems everyone in government is exempt from the normal consequences that we have to live with daily. And when it comes to elected politicians, they are exempt from actual laws and any consequences. The headlines are full of examples be it Swalwell colluding with a Chinese spy, Omar funneling $100000's of dollars to her new husbands company, Hunter Biden shaking down Burmisa, Obama weaponizing the IRS, and on and on. All grifters above the law.
And we know damn well these people will never voluntarily enact any mechanism to hold them accountable. So we live in a two tiered system.... us vs them. We have Obamacare and 401ks. They have top shelf healthcare paid in full by us and pensions. The list of what they have and we pay for vs what they force us to have that we have to pay for, is long.
And therein lies the problem. The politicians will never enact term limits and they will never put into place a mechanism for accountability, let alone consequences. And as the article describes, they've set it up to prevent another Trump from getting elected pulling back the curtain and disturbing as Mitch McConnell recently said after Biden's inauguration "getting back to business". And don't kid yourself, Mitch doesn't mean our business, he means his and the rest of the uniparty's business.
My personal decision in response to this state of affairs is to move south to Tennessee in 2022 when I retire to be with more like minded people meaning Christians, conservatives, 1st & no amendment supporters. Or, as I like to call it "the 3 G's... God, guns and guitars. The other action will be to not vote again in any election unless or until Trump or another Trump-like leader comes on scene with the possibility for change. Voting is a totally worthless and futile effort therefore I will not vote. The faster it all goes to hell, the faster change will come. Me propping up the flawed system by voting will only keep it going.

February 8, 2021 2:31 PM

as pointed out in "The Confucian Cycle," the bureaucracy always exands, simply because of human nature. i have believed in term limits for elected officials for decades, and it hit me the other day while reading that perhaps there should be term limits for bureaucrats as well. if bureaucrats were allowed no more than 12 years in the bureaucracy, after which they could NEVER "serve" again in *any* capacity (including as lobbyists), perhaps the swamp could be drained. had the writers of the pendleton civil service reform act known about and believed in term limits, they could have included term limits for bureaucrats as well; perhaps term limits could have been added in the subsequent 2 or 3 decades. at this late date, however, especially given the dishonesty of the hard-core left and the ignorance of the nominal left, i suspect that civil war and breakup of the nation is the ultimate destiny of our once-great nation.

i will nevertheless champion the constitution (and term limits for *all* who "serve" in government) and rule by law for the rest of my life. unfortunately, i am *certain* that my life will end with either a leftist or muslim bullet in the back of my head.

February 8, 2021 5:08 PM

This is a decent list of ways to fight back

February 8, 2021 6:51 PM

Thanks Julia! God is good! My pastor reminds me every week to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus.

February 8, 2021 9:55 PM

@Rico - This is all we intended for this particular series. But, we did just publish an article discussing term limits:

February 12, 2021 4:55 PM
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