Thursday, December 20, 2012

Our Government: Stupid and Industrious

Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.  -- George Washington 
Progressives insist that times have changed. We need a more interventionist government, and politicians and activists of all parties frequently employ moralistic arguments and appeals to Christian virtues to make their case. This is a logical misstep.

Charity is a moral virtue God demands of His followers. Progressives commit a category error when trying to apply moral virtues to the congeries of soulless, faceless government bureaucracies.

A corporate entity or government cannot by definition possess virtues.  Only human beings can.

In fact, discussing virtues and morality in the context of government turns the Utilitarianism vs. Deontological ethics debate on its head.

Christianity is a deontological religion. We owe duties to God and to our fellow man.

Utilitarianism, according to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, is “the view that the morally right action is the action that produces the most good.”

Utilitarianism is logically coherent, but it can lead to very immoral acts: Final solutions, euthanasia, telling individuals where to live and what job they will have.

When discussing what the role of government in peoples lives should be, liberals or progressives argue from the deontological point of view (We have a duty to help the poor!), while conservatives and libertarians argue from the Utilitarian corner (Do what works. Stop doing what does not)

This entire discussion on the role of government is premised on a false belief: If government does not dole out mercy, none shall be doled out. This is nonsense. We are a very giving nation, and reasonable arguments can be made that the multi-trillion dollar war on poverty has destroyed our cities and the nuclear family, consigning even more people to a permanent underclass.

So should government be deontological or utilitarian?

Both. Lawmakers and government bureaucrats have a duty not to God nor citizen, but to the US Constitution. That is the only guide to right and wrong in governance. Government at all levels could also use a shot of utilitiarianism, within the framework of constitutionality. Simply put: If it doesn’t work, stop doing it.

German General Kurt von Hammerstein-Equord is said to have made the following observation in 1933:
"I divide my officers into four classes; the clever, the lazy, the industrious, and the stupid. Each officer possesses at least two of these qualities.
Those who are clever and industrious are fitted for the highest staff appointments. Use can be made of those who are stupid and lazy. The man who is clever and lazy however is for the very highest command; he has the temperament and nerves to deal with all situations. But whoever is stupid and industrious is a menace and must be removed immediately!"
My purpose of this post is not to skewer Obama, but I think he fits in the clever and lazy category. This would not necessarily be a bad thing if he had the experience of a Reagan,  Eisenhower, or Truman.  Good advisors would also help him out, but instead, like the vast majority of the political class, his minions are in the stupid and industrious category, compounding our troubles.

24 comments:

Jack Camwell said...

One quibble I have is with to what the government has a duty.

The government has a duty to the people. The Constitution is merely a set of rules to ensure that the government is acting in the interest of the common good.

We can't believe that government's duty, our duty, is to the Constitution. We do not serve the Constitution--it serves us. Believing otherwise allows for people to use the rules as an excuse for doing nothing and for allowing people to suffer.

Silverfiddle said...

I'll accept your quibble and raise it to a valid observation.

It's probably semantics more than anything. The reason I said it like that is because doing things 'for the people,' has gotten us to the parlous state we now find our nation in.

Trillions of dollars of government-inspired destruction has begun with the cry of 'Do Something!'

So while I agree with you that the constitution serves us, we do not serve it, my point was that politicians have a duty to follow the constitution, remembering that the document does mention the general welfare, but circumscribes their actions towards that end.

conservativesonfire said...

This is why I love this blog so much. I am always being educated.

Government should be an extention of the people, which is a collective of individuals. We create government to do what only the "collective we" can do and nothing more. As you say, governments do not have morals; people do.

Finntann said...

Yes the government has a duty to serve the people. The constitution is the rules under which it operates in the execution of that duty.

If you wish to change those rules, there is a process for doing so. By simply ignoring the rules because it is more convenient to do so than to attempt to follow the process to change the rules does a disservice to us all and violates the social compact which we operate under.

Cheers!

Jack Camwell said...

Yes, they have a duty to follow the constitution, but should they do so at the ruin of others?

It's sort of like the whole Jesus and the sabbath thing. He performed a miracle on the sabbath, and the pharisees got all hot and bothered. "You're not supposed to work on the sabbath," they said to him.

Then Jesus came down from the top rope and said "do you really think that 'no work on the sabbath' means that we're not allow to do good things for others?" Sometimes, you can't allow the rules to prevent you from doing something good, especially if that good outweighs the evil of breaking the rule (if breaking the rule itself is the only evil that comes out of the act).

I'm not suggesting that we just throw out the Constitution and do whatever we please as long as we "think" it's right, but in some cases the rules have to be broken in order to do what's right.

Aleviating the suffering of others is never, ever an unworthy pursuit. But I think your "industrious and stupid" thing comes into play with that. It was a good idea to help those who could not help themselves, but those in government went about it in an entirely stupid and unproductive way.

And for the record, the Constitution says that Congress can spend money on just about whatever it wants. Welfare--although horribly executed and ineffectual/unsustainable in the long run--is not unconstutional. I'm not sure if that's where some people were going with that, but I thought I'd just throw that out there just in case.

skudrunner said...

As we mature into a declining society we allow our elected elite to make life decisions for us.

The progressive movement is all about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. They preach these virtues while they support regulations on what you can eat, drink, drive, smoke and shoot. They believe people are not capable of making rational decisions and they are content to have the government make our decisions for us.

We have leadership that view the constitution as an obstacle not as the doctrine we live by.

Jack, Welfare was originated to provide assistance to those who cannot provide for themselves. Neither welfare or unemployment were meant to be a career path for the uninspired.

Silverfiddle said...

Jesus taught that the pharisees were interpreting God's commandments in an overly-narrow manner.

No one could accuse our politicians of that, and the debate still rages regarding what exactly the constitution allows. Even given that it allows government to redistribute income (which is what government is in fact doing), government has done it in an incredibly stupid manner.

Jersey McJones said...

What is this fetish you cons have with misrepresenting what other people believe?

"Progressives insist that times have changed. We need a more interventionist government..."

No. We don't believe that. That is a sweeping and simplistic characterization. In many ways, we progressives would like to see much less "interventionist government." In other ways, we see a need for more.

And no, this doesn't fall just un the utilitarian 'what works/what doesn't work' rule. But rather what must be done and can only be done by the government. Whether it "works" or not is another matter. If it doesn't, than you find another way, not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

"They (progressives) believe people are not capable of making rational decisions and they are content to have the government make our decisions for us."

And that is just a stupid and sleazy thing to say. NO progressive believes such a thing. A stupid, sleazy, scummy, dopey lie.

JMJ

Silverfiddle said...

@ Jersey: "stupid, sleazy, scummy, dopey"

You left out grumpy, happy, sneezy, sleepy, Bashful and Doc ;)


And don't run away from the consequences of your progressivism.

Of course progressives want to grow government. That's all they've done since Woodrow Wilson, and Obama has grand plans that put FDR to shame. It is clear: There is never enough government for you people, so stop insulting our intelligence and own it.

Jersey McJones said...

Silver, you guys have a cartoonish view of reality.

JMJ

viburnum said...

JMJ: " Whether it "works" or not is another matter."

Should we take that to mean it's an irrelevant one? Does government not have a responsibility to be both efficient and economical?

Silverfiddle said...

Jersey: Go look at the trend line for the federal budget over these past 100 years, look at the trillions in debt, and then tell us who has the better grasp on reality.

Finntann said...

@Yes, they have a duty to follow the constitution, but should they do so at the ruin of others?

YES!

This relativistic bullshit is what got us here in the first place.

@"in some cases the rules have to be broken in order to do what's right"

Really, they must be broken? As opposed to what? Changing the rules?

Seriously, if you don't like the rules, why don't you change them.

Changing the rules isn't hard, it can be drafted and offered like any other law... it simply involves a 2/3 vote in both houses and ratification by 3/4ths of the states.

So to answer my question. The reason you don't change the rules is you lack the necessary support to do so.

A government, any government that operates outside of the rules that define its role and powers is a tyranny.

@The government has a duty to the people.

Yes, and that duty is to operate within the rules and limitations established by the people.

Cheers!

Finntann said...

@But rather what must be done and can only be done by the government.

Can only be done by the government?

Like what? Limiting soft drinks to no more than 16 ounces?

Regulating the amount of sodium chloride in food?

Preventing people from eating trans-fats?

Well maybe that's a good one, fries have tasted the same since they stopped cooking them in lard ;)

@"They (progressives) believe people are not capable of making rational decisions and they are content to have the government make our decisions for us."

So, how exactly, was that statement false?




Jersey McJones said...

"Jersey: Go look at the trend line for the federal budget over these past 100 years, look at the trillions in debt, and then tell us who has the better grasp on reality."

Silver, look at the way the debt was managed over the past 100 years. Notice how lousy Republicans were at managing it.

Finntann,

"But rather what must be done and can only be done by the government.

Can only be done by the government?"

Are you really telling me that you can't imagine what must be done and can only be done (at least in a realistic, safe, and affordable way) by government? Really???

"Like what? Limiting soft drinks to no more than 16 ounces?

Regulating the amount of sodium chloride in food?

Preventing people from eating trans-fats?"

really, that's the cartoony kinda things that come to mind for you there, huh?

"@"They (progressives) believe people are not capable of making rational decisions and they are content to have the government make our decisions for us."

So, how exactly, was that statement false?"

Because it is not how any progressive thinks. It's a lie. And, it's typical cartoony con-think.

Just because you want to believe we think that way, that doesn't make it so.

JMJ


Finntann said...

@Because it is not how any progressive thinks

Then, may I ask, why do they promulgate laws like those cited? And those were just a few, it's not hard to find more examples, try googling "Nanny State".

@Are you really telling me that you can't imagine what must be done and can only be done (at least in a realistic, safe, and affordable way) by government?

No, but what can and should be done by government is captured by the enumerated powers section of the constitution.

Outside of the enumerated powers, what can the federal government do that the state governments are incapable of doing? Has Education improved since Carter's Department of Education?

My main problem with progressives is their overwhelming desire for national-level policy on matters outside the purview of the federal government. I've said this before and I'll say it again, the interests of the people of Colorado differ from the interests of New York, Massachusetts, et. al.

The difference between us is that I recognize the limitations of national policy, and for progressives it is a panacea. Let the people of the states decide what is best for them, not the people of a few states deciding what is best for us all.

Let me turn this around a bit.

What do you think is outside the purview of the federal government?

Anything?

Anything at all?

Silverfiddle said...

Jersey: Are you smoking something?

Do you really believe it's all the Republicans' fault?

Woody Wilson, FDR, LBJ and BHO are all Democrats, all power grabbers for big government, all big spenders.

I will concede they had plenty of help from Republicans, who have a progressive infestation problem of their own.

Rational Nation USA said...

Progressive infestation problem, is that like termite infestation?

FreeThinke said...

Your opening quotation is the most eloquent, adroitly phrased statement I've ever read from the pen of george Washington, whose use of the language from what I have seen (The interminable Farewell Address!) is notable, despite the wisdom of its content, only for the awkwardness of its style and the clumsiness of its syntax.

Where did you find today's quote? It's a beauty. Short, snappy and profound.

~ FreeThinke

Ducky's here said...

Doing anything to celebrate the end of the world tomorrow?

viburnum said...

@Doing anything to celebrate the end of the world tomorrow?

No, just hoping it holds off until after the department Christmas party.

Rational Nation USA said...

The world is going to end tomorrow? Not much time to do everything I always wanted to do but did't have the balls. :-)

Finntann said...

@Doing anything to celebrate the end of the world tomorrow?

Hey, they were only off by 315 years.

I think as far as the Mayan are concerned, their world ended in 1697 with the fall of Tayasal.

FreeThinke said...

"Doing anything to celebrate the end of the world tomorrow?"

Unfortunately, fantasies of this sort have a determined habit of not coming true.

I know you must be awfully disappointed, since you identify with the faction that constantly asserts life is not worth living -- unless WE get OUR way.

As the housekeeper from hell, Mrs. Danvers (Judith Anderson) murmured to the poor huddled, befuddled Mistress of Manderley (Joan Fontaine), "Why don't you jump? Go on. You've nothing to live for. You could never take her place. Go on jump.”

It's very good advice -- for leftists --, Canardo.