Thursday, October 20, 2011

Augustine and Government

Christianity is held up by two philosophical tent poles, and one of them is St. Augustine.  He had a jaundiced view of government.
Justice being taken away, then, what are kingdoms but great robberies?  For what are robberies themselves, but little kingdoms?
He goes on to declare that the defining attribute of a kingdom over a robber band is "impunity", for only government can rob without consequence.

Every government loots the nation to feed its supporters, but some loot more than others.  Take Cuba, for example.  After the United States returned the government of Cuba to the people after the intervention of 1898, the free Cuban government quickly descended into the crudest corruption.  Writes Tom Gjelten in Bacardi and the Long Fight for Cuba:
Cuban politics had grown dirtier by the year, with electoral fraud practiced on all sites and widespread graft within the government itself... In the fall of 1905 Interior Secretary Fernando Freire de Andrade began dismissing government employees, even schoolmasters, who favored the opposition Liberal Party[.]
The Liberal Party withdrew its candidates from many races in the fall elections.  By August 1906 the Liberals had backed an insurgency that was marching on Havana.  By the end of September the government had resigned and the US took over again.

The more that people look at government for benefits and rewards, and the more that politics descends into a fight for spoils.

It's instinctive, of course.  People feel that the more the other guy has, the less than they have.  And it certainly applies for the agricultural age.  The more land that I have, the less that's available for others.  The more powerful my patron, the safer I feel, even if he keeps most of the loot for himself.

In the industrial age, things are different.  The more products that corporations make, the more that's available for everyone.  The richer the corporate CEOs get the more jobs they can create at their corporations,  And you never know when someone is going to invent something and create a whole new form of wealth: textiles, railroads, steel, electricity, autos, radio, TV, computers, internet.

The latest invention seems to be the horizontal fracking technology that is creating a boom in natural gas and is causing US domestic oil production to reverse its decades-long decline.

Here is the deal. We humans are programmed instinctively to believe in a fixed pie, with more for you meaning less for me.  Yet capitalism has produced a new reality.  The better I serve the consumer with better products and services the bigger the pie and the more there is for everyone.

When will President Obama get the message?

3 comments:

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  2. "The richer corporate CEO's get, the more jobs they can create at their corporation" Sounds good! Can I get some examples here in modern time America?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Sorry... that was a little snarky of me, wasn't it? I actually came to your blog to thank you for the tremendous effort you put into governmentspending.com
    I must admit that it gives me pause... because you are so blatantly conservative and anti-Obama... and seemingly anti-government. So, any statistic I quote from you is suspect... and must be verified.
    It appears that I disagree with just about every one of your political positions... but, I will continue to use the amazing resource you manage. I'll just keep a salt shaker nearby...

    Thanks again for all of your hard work!

    ReplyDelete