Friday, November 10, 2006

Political Dualism

The human condition

Well the bums got thrown out (in Congress anyway) in the USA in this year’s midterm elections. In Eastern religion there is the concept of dualism, we are torn between our spiritual and material selves, or between lust and restraint, between good and evil and between the short-run and the long-run. Politics is the same. We keep thinking that one set of politicians will be better than another set of politicians, that one government will be better than the last set. But this is rarely the case, but we keep hoping (and that is good and quintessentially American).

Why keep setting ourselves up for failure? Reputable studies show that Americans are becoming increasingly less aligned with the main two parties, and this might be construed as a proxy that we are becoming more fed-up with government. Eliot Spitzer won the governor’s race in NY saying that “on day one everything changes” (here it is day 3 and we are still here ?...) . Yet we failed to throw out the entrenched in the state legislature.

Some say (convention wisdom) that it would’ve been better for a divided national legislature so there would be less chance of politicians’ programs to get passed. This hasn’t worked in Albany, where the divided government has just gotten more collusive. Yet again we failed to overthrown the power elite this election, despite NY state being known as a horrible overtaxed job-losing cronyistic structure. Both the NY Post and the NY Times (polar opposites in political outlook thus maybe on to something when they agree) recommended voting RADS (Republicans for the Assembly and Democrats for the Senate, eg the opposite of who is in power there now).

The dualism has a synthesis, that of a smaller government where the politicians can do less harm and corrupt behavior can only have reduced consequences. That is where economics comes in. James Buchanan and his fellow public-choicers showed how bureaucracies - and their supporters - enrich themselves at the public trough. The unorganized many get taken advantage of by the organized few. This will not change until the unorganized many step-up and minimize the power of the few at the polls by voting independently. Spitzer said he is independent, as of course did Leiberman.

It remains, and will be interesting to see, if the new Congress will listen to the discontented and this discontentment then manifests itself in smaller government, but I am not holding my breath. People will argue passionately about tax cuts, but there will be a deafening silence about real program cuts and real tax reform (eg removing tax breaks for the special interests eg the politicians’ supporters). It is the political game, it is dualistic, and consciousness will be raised if there is to be a new synthesis and progress.

Someone said that it'd be best if the wealthy - like Spitzer and Bloomberg - ran the country because then they wouldnt enrich themselves at the expensive of you and me (but then power can be a greed too, I dont need to mention names here), but that is even too cynical for me.

See you at the polls.