CONSPIRACY THEORY II
We can all agree that there is something rotten in the state of the State. Where we differ is in the nature of the rottenness, and the causes for that rottenness.
Let’s begin with Sanders’ declaration:
As a result of the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior on Wall Street, millions of Americans have lost their jobs, homes, life savings and their ability to get a higher education.
The question that needs to be addressed here is one of cause and effect. How can any problem be analyzed correctly, and solutions sought, if the causes of the problem are not properly identified? Sanders seems to believe that ‘Wall Street’ is the embodiment of those causes (without presenting any proofs).
Sanders’ explanation of the current ills of America from the progressive point of view is just as facile as is the explanation from the so-called conservative right: Blame it on the other guys – blame it on a conspiracy of the 400 wealthiest ‘families’ – shades of the mafia? – who are secretly forming an oligarchy in order to rule the country, presumably through bought and paid-for congressmen and women.
In fact, Sanders is part of the problem. It is he, and his congressional colleagues who have the theoretical power to just say no. That they don’t is testimony to the nature of human beings and the nature of power. Please pardon me for repeating this quote: Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely (Lord Acton).
The fact of the matter is that the entire political structure of the federal government and state and local government is corrupt. And the corruption is not due to Wall Street and corporations, nor to capitalism, nor to socialism and social justice. It is due to human nature and it comes down to the point where the very paradigms of our society must be questioned.
We speak of government and of corporations, but those are merely convenient fictions, concepts. In order to analyze the problems we must analyze the motivations of the individuals who compose these entities. Only individual human beings have motivations. Only individual human beings can act. And if you will permit me another bromide: Money is the root of all evil. And where is the money to be found? Where is the power to be found?
Sanders expends some words excoriating the ‘rich’. And he throws out a lot of numbers. (Of course, he has a large staff to help him generate those numbers, so who can possibly doubt them?). And he uses words like ‘evade’ and ‘manipulate’ and heaven forbid: ‘Unfair’. But is it not so that all of us, human beings that we are, evade and manipulate when it serves our own interests? Even congressmen and women are known to engage in such nefarious actions.
What he actually seems to be lamenting is the apparent fact that uncollected taxes mean less of others people’s money to spend. Or is it that it is a mere illusion that we ‘own’ our own money, or anything else, for that matter. Is private property held only at the discretion of our politicians?
But to get back to the point, if indeed the wealthy are getting wealthier, what is the cause? Blaming the rich for gaming the system does not seem like a constructive course of action. Does Sanders believe that by taxing the wealthy a bit more we are going to pay off the $13,000,000,000,000 debt that he cites?
After all, it is Sanders and his ilk (Democrats, Republicans and also the lone Independent) that are responsible for the system. Perhaps it is the ‘system’ that needs changing. There is a $13,000,000,000,000 debt, not because the government isn’t collecting enough taxes, but rather because congress is addicted to spending money that it doesn’t have.
And so, what does this have to do with Glenn Greenwald and his post on the secret government? Well, it is Glenn who is quoting Sanders, apparently buying into Sanders’ conspiracy theory. Is there really a secret clique of wealthy and powerful men (and women) in the private sector who control both Washington and Wall Street? If you believe that are you not becoming merely a leftist version of rightwing conspiracy nuts?
I maintain that there is something much simpler occurring. Why is ‘Top Secret America’ not drawing much attention, either from John and Jane Public, or from our public ‘servants’ in Washington, D.C.?
Well, if you consider public choice theory, then it becomes easier to understand why private individuals do not invest time and effort into becoming informed and active participants in the political process: There is nothing in it for them. It is perceived, correctly, that the individual can do absolutely nothing to change the course of the Ship of State. Therefore, it is better to engage in activities and discussions that are within one’s control and understanding.
One the other hand, our elected public servants are served perfectly well by doing nothing to change the situation. We have Diane Feinstein hundreds of times over. Why would any incumbent want to change the system? Look at all the power and perks associated with elected office. And if for some reason, a politician should leave Congress, then the job possibilities in the Lobbying Industry are practically endless. It is the game. Both political parties do it. And Bernie Sanders is also a party to it. Spend more, collect more taxes; go into debt to finance your favorite social hobbyhorse.
Yes, there is an evil symbiosis between big government and big business. But think about it: Who makes the rules; who passes the budgets; who has the real power? Cause and effect.
The cold turkey solution: Drastically cut spending. Drastically cut out bureaucracies with their voluminous and incomprehensible rules and regulations. Drastically cut taxes.
It is easy to say, but the reality is that in spite of all that you or I might say or do, there is no one in Congress with the cojones to do it.