Every good Magician makes a big show of providing his audience 'Full Transparency', in fact he relies upon it,
"Look closely ladies and gentlemen, there's nothing up my sleeve and nothing in my hat, in fact, why don't you sir, come up and pat me down... you agree I'm concealing nothing? Yes? Excellent... and by the way, what were you doing with this marble behind your ear?"
... and out pops a marble 'as if' it were behind your ear all along.
Here's a tip: it wasn't.
It is part of the act, 'providing transparency' is one of the magicians chief techniques for misdirecting your attention so that he can perform his trick without your noticing how he is actually accomplishing it.
No different with Uncle Sam. When Uncle Obama offers 'full transparency',
""The American taxpayer will benefit from full transparency at
each step of the process as these funds are disbursed.""
... in most cases we'll remain better informed by not looking at where he is directing us to look.
Where Else Not To Look
Don't look at the 'successful performance', or lack there of, of Govt programs. Those do nothing but stand in for 'nothing up my sleeves...', don't bother looking for infrastructure improvements (remember 'The Big Dig'?), or initiatives to 'improve education'... they will accomplish nothing of the sort.
We tend to make the mistake of viewing Govt as if its 'product' can be looked at, viewed and measured, in the same way as we would a business whose 'output' is the product produced - but that is not the case.
With a business such as Ford, the product is obviously a Mustang, or an Explorer, etc, and the machinery of the business; workers, managers and executives, are there to design, build and sell that product, and the relative health of such a business can be gauged by the sales of, and satisfaction with, that product. Which is very true... though we tend to forget that the purpose of the business and its product, from the shareholders perspective, is not the 'Mustang' or any other product, they are merely means to an end, and the end purpose of the business is ultimately to earn a profit.
Similarly so with Govt.
Profit is the result paid to shareholders, from a business that is run efficiently and creates dependable, functioning, products. But 'efficient', 'dependable' and 'functioning', do not describe the products which a Govt is in the 'business' of creating, for there is a corollary to profit in Govt, which we often overlook, because to most of us it has no value, but to the typical Govt person, it is THE value.
It is a mistake to think that the 'products' of business and of Govt can be evaluated in the same way, because their purposes are so different. The soundness and dependability of a business's product, serves to increase profit, but the soundness and dependability of a Govt's product, whatever the program or 'service', does NOT serve it's end purpose. And even those who do look past the 'products' to the end purposes of creating them, they tend to think that YOU, the Public, are viewed by those in Govt, as the equivalent of 'shareholders' to a business. But just as the products can not be viewed the same, neither can the 'customers' be viewed in the same way... and lest you do think that YOU are considered by those in Govt as if you were on a equal par as a business's shareholder, let me just speak for them... NOT!
With Govt, the output we see, and typically take to be its Product, is only a minor visible component of their 'business model', and in actuality it is but a means to the real ends, that which takes the role that 'profit' does in private enterprise, which is the maintenance, distribution, and expansion of Power.
When you have a budget, stimulus plan, etc, which have line items within it such as 'upgrade infrastructure' or 'education'; upgrading infrastructure and education, ARE NOT either the point, product or purposes of that budget. A more accurate, but still flawed interpretation would be to say that the purpose of the budget, is to
- 1st, reserve for some Govt administrator the power to control the allocation of the power that will be needed to do this item, and
- 2nd, to name other people, dept's and committee's, etc (expanding and enhancing power), and so on, for implementing that power
- and power MUST be exerted, it must be released, kinetic power in Govt is worse than useless, it is wasted. But that diverts attention away from the true primary requirement for steps 1, 2 and so on, which is transferring power from the populace, principally through taxation, and also through directives and regulations, to the Govt.
Any 'Budget' or 'Stimulus' plan in a Govt which has escaped its restraints, such as ours has, is NOT a plan to improve 'infrastructure' or 'education' or even to fix the economy; it is only a development plan for further enhancing, spreading and increasing power and entrenching the powerful. It's more akin to a plan for planting weeds, than wheat.
There are only two purposes for selecting how and where to exert power. Either for the sole purpose of Power itself (and you should forget about eliminating them, it will never happen, such people will always be among us, the best that can be hoped for is to control their excesses), or to accomplish some goal which the powerful desires to do (and these are far more dangerous than mere power luster's), whether it be because of grudge, whim or worse, 'morality'.
Govt Slipping the Surly Bonds
The only thing that has been discovered in all of human history that has had even a chance of controlling and directing power in such a way that benefits all of the people, not just the powerful, is a written constitution and a system of law which is based upon, bound to, and harmonized with, the higher laws as directed by that written Constitution.
This written constitution produces an irritating restraint upon those who have the reins of power. In even the best of societies, those in power, seek it in order to DO that which they see to be necessary and right, and a written constitution hampers and inhibits them at every step of the way. The constitution was barely dry, before the congress was seeking to 'upgrade infrastructure', to create what we today would term a 'Highway Bill', but there could be found no way past the still clear and un-fractured constitution and body of laws, to permit it, and so Madison and others (for a time), vetoed them.
It's instructive to read from President Madison's Veto Message for the 'stimulus' and 'infrastructure' bill of his day, the first 'Bonus Bill',
"I am not unaware of the great importance of roads and canals and the improved navigation of water courses, and that a power in the National Legislature to provide for them might be exercised with signal advantage to the general prosperity. But seeing that such a power is not expressly given by the Constitution, and believing that it can not be deduced from any part of it without an inadmissible latitude of construction and reliance on insufficient precedents; believing also that the permanent success of the Constitution depends on a definite partition of powers between the General and the State Governments, and that no adequate landmarks would be left by the constructive extension of the powers of Congress as proposed in the bill, I have no option but to withhold my signature from it, and to cherishing the hope that its beneficial objects may be attained by a resort for the necessary powers to the same wisdom and virtue in the nation which established the Constitution in its actual form and providently marked out in the instrument itself a safe and practicable mode of improving it as experience might suggest.Madison did think that the goals of the bill were worthwhile, even necessary, but he knew that doing so without amending the constitution, would be destructive to the constitution - it would break its restraints. He urged Congress to begin the process of amending the constitution. It should be noted that the constitution never was amended to allow for such things as 'upgrading infrastructure'.
President of the United States "
Because, 'upgrading infrastructure' was never the purpose of the bill, or at least that wasn't the purpose of those who sought to push it through despite the obvious unconstitutionality of doing so, which Madison pointed out.
Amending the constitution would have strengthened the constitution, and would have made ignoring it even more difficult, and doing that, was the real purpose!
Various forms of that 'highway bill' would surface and resurface through the centuries, seeking a way through those restraints, but it would take over a century and a thousand nicks, paper cuts in our body of laws under the Constitution, to support the 'nothing up my sleeve' flourishes needed to give the illusion that it could be allowed within the constitution.
Once that wound had been opened, the constitutional dam began to crumble, and more and more bills to 'do right' were shoved through the gap, until eventually the point was reached where the constitution could, except in the most shallowly obvious ways, be ignored and subverted almost at will, needing only nebulous polls of public opinion to accomplish it.
That is where we are today.
Looking up the sleeve
Another key difference between private enterprise' products, and Govt's 'products', is that private enterprise gains from a functioning and effective product. Govt, except when fully under constitutional restraints, almost never benefits from functioning and effective 'products'. An 'educational' system which actually educates children, is a dead end for the power monger... where, within a functioning and efficient system, do you think you can find an opportunity to expand power? If something is working to everyone's satisfaction, why would it require more services and funding and people & groups beholden to you?
A successful Govt Program, is a complete dead end, from the point of view of the power monger! And especially with education, if the public is actually educated, they are not going to allow those in Govt to do whatever the hell they want to do... and who wants that?!
Only within a written constitution, whose laws are in conformity to it, and whose purpose is to preserve the individual rights and property of the people, and to protect them from enemies foreign and domestic, and where those in power seek to exert their power only to accomplish those goals, only within that narrow scope, can a fully functioning and efficient Govt, be deemed successful... but we've slipped past that stage, long ago.
It only takes one leak in the Constitutional dam, beginning in the merest trickle, to spread and grow into the full crumbling flood we are experiencing today. It's been my contention that the earliest and most significant breach, was the Morrill Act, which was the first federal action which fully transgressed the defined constitutional scope and powers of the Federal Govt, even though it appeared to be just a wee bit and for a good cause - education -, and with those good intentions, began the diluting of Education with Proregressive purposes and theories, which has been central to the American public losing sight of what the Constitution originally was and why it ever even existed.
(As an example of the corrosive spirit of indoctrination that has taken over Educationists in particular, and modern philosophy in general, see this quoting of Richard Rorty, which gives a clear example of Goldberg's point from 'Liberal Fascism', that the real face of fascism today, is a teacher with a leftist education. Sickening(Hat tip to Julie for the link that linked to this link).)
Within forty years of the first version of the Morrill Act, Education; it's meaning, content, purposes, structure and practice, were completely transformed, and the U.S. Govt was routinely doing what the Founders would have been appalled to see it do. The Govt was directly infringing upon the peoples property rights in the most blatant of ways, 'trust busting' and further ventures into 'protecting' monetary stability, which would culminate within another two decades, in the defacto loss (or at least legitimized abridgments) of our freedoms, through the creation of the Fed, the Income Tax, mandatory public schooling, Govt regulatory agencies, and the leveling of the Senate with the 17th Amendment.
Don't Look Where You Are Directed To Look
Don't bother looking up the magicians sleeve, at least not when he offers it, look at what he is actually doing; not his flourishes, but the actions he's hoping you don't notice. Focus on the purposive/philosophically motivated anti-restraint (constitutional) power monger, for that is the rabbit which will breed and multiply and overrun our garden.
At the surface level of the statist's policies (all of which are leftist and little 'r' republicans), you'll find that they seek to forcibly change circumstances in order to 'improve' the people. Whether it be through, from the left, welfare checks, hate speech codes or quotas - or from the little 'r' right: educational reform (instead of the obliteration of the entire system), values education, prohibitions, blue laws, etc - they think that by rearranging the distribution of wealth or insensitive words or numbers of melanin or gender counts, or through forced actions labeled as 'choices', that they will be able to improve and fix and pacify 'we the people'.
Look deeper into the statist's policies (both leftist and little 'r' right), and you're going to find them doing what is 'necessary' for the feeding and caring of the powerful, which means the expansion of bureaucratic programs, regulations and taxes, all excused as 'necessary' for 'Success!' and even when it becomes obvious that they are only rearranging the deck chairs on the titanic, they will persist, to keep their power base happy at their apparent 'progress' and 'action!', and keep them in power right up until the ship has sunk.
If you look past the surface to the root of the statist's policies (and leftist and little 'r' right are the same in kind, differing only in degree), what you're going to find buried in the motivations and justifications for their policies and actions, are their metaphysical first principles, which will be Determinism. They do believe that outward changes in the environment will mechanically cause inward changes and 'corrections', like one billiard ball bouncing off of another, in the 'people'. And such deterministic scenario's are one of the few times they'll refer to that dirty term 'cause', and then only because they can't figure out how to get around using it.
However, the denial of free will, which determinism entails and requires (and which leads to the complete inversion of morality), and which that mechanical billiard ricocheting 'cause' is meant to discredit and take the place of, requires of the powerful not only the willingness, but the necessity, for them to violate the rights of the individual (righteously so), in order to serve the collective, and that is what keeps the powerful in the business of developing power.
When you hear 'Look, nothing up this sleeve', you can bank on two things. One, that isn't where the rabbit is, and two, the rabbit, no matter how it appears to have appeared, will not be pulled out of thin air. No matter the appearance of the free-lunch rabbit trick, the rabbit exists in fact, it has mass, and it must be fed and cared for, and you are going to be made to pay for it... or more accurately for them, for you must never forget, rabbits multiply.
I was just reading a column from the excellent Thomas Sowell, called False solutions and real problems
P ("...No one asked how many hundreds of thousands of dollars would be added to the cost of an average home by "open space" laws, for example. Yet empirical studies have shown that land-use restrictions added at least a hundred thousand dollars to the average home price in dozens of places around the country. ..."), and then browsed to one of his columns from earlier in the year, which beat me to this post's punch by a few months, called What are they buying?,
"What are the Beltway politicians buying with all the hundreds of billions of dollars they are spending? They are buying what politicians are most interested in— power.
In the name of protecting the taxpayers' investment, they are buying the power to tell General Motors how to make cars, banks how to bank and, before it is all over with, all sorts of other people how to do the work they specialize in, and for which members of Congress have no competence, much less expertise.
This administration and Congress are now in a position to do what Franklin D. Roosevelt did during the Great Depression of the 1930s— use a crisis of the times to create new institutions that will last for generations."
Sowell is one of my Heroes.