Democracy and the Illusion of Freedom
“Democracy is an abuse of statistics.” — Jorge Luis Borges
If there is an idea too absurd for Modern Man to go in for…we have yet to hear about it.
Wacky cults… Doomsday conspiracies… Elvis sightings…
For every nut job theory and half-baked cause you come across, there are likely to be a dozen people standing in line, waiting to sign up for it.
In fact, it often seems as though the sillier the idea, the further the line stretches around the block.
And sometimes, in cases of rare and incomprehensible idiocy, you get a line that’s actually long enough to draw a crowd of its own.
Curious bystanders want to know what they’re missing out on. They close in on the scene, peering over one another’s shoulders, hoping to get a glimpse of what’s inside the Big Top Tent of BS.
At some point, the crowd may even turn into a mob. Then, things really start getting dangerous. Groupthink takes over…and clear thinking goes out the window.
Proceed along this course for long enough and, eventually, you’ll discover you’ve entered into the world of politics.
The New Hampshire primary races have been run and won…whether voters elsewhere like the results or not.
Now, we don’t usually pay any mind to the “Republicrat vs. Democratan” shenanigans…unless we’re in the mood for a good belly laugh.
That is to say, when it comes to being “into” political movements, we’re mostly into being out of them.
After all, a critical step toward achieving independence (our main beat here at Truth & Plenty) is to avoid becoming dependent on the government’s various handouts… bailouts… boondoggles and other such nonsense.
The 19th Century French writer and thinker, Frédéric Bastiat, was probably onto something when he said, “The state is that great fiction by which everyone tries to live at the expense of everyone else.”
Real independence means standing on your own two feet, proud of what you do and who you are…freeing yourself from the whim and caprice of blithering politicos, whose interests are in direct conflict with your own.
Still, the circus can hardly be ignored. Especially if you happen to be in its path! Which brings us back to New Hampshire…
One report we saw estimated the tiny, New England state suffered through more than $100 million dollars worth of political ads.
A weeklong media blitzkrieg of pandering… polling… promising… polluting… prestidigitating… prevaricating… posturing… pleading and politicking.
That’s a mighty governmental hullabaloo for a state that bares the motto: “Live Free or Die!”
To almost any private individual, $100 million dollars probably sounds like a good chunk of change. Especially considering that, according to figures cited by Yahoo Finance, only “about $2 million had been spent in New Hampshire by this point in the 2012 race.”
But in terms of total dollars greasing the political machinery, it’s a mere rounding error. Last year, for example, lobbyists dropped a cool $3.2 billion dollars furthering their pet causes inside the D.C. Beltway.
And that’s just money we know about.
Hundreds of billions of dollars are making their way from inside Interstate 495 to special interests, privileged insiders and shielded elites around the nation every minute of every hour of every day.
To really understand why so much time and resources are poured into these contests…to comprehend the fanfare that goes along with the whole production…we need to understand something about the nature of the democratic process itself.
It’s been variously described as “two wolves and one sheep voting on what to have for dinner”…as “an advanced auction on stolen goods”…and as “an abuse of statistics.”
All true, no doubt.
Here, we offer a slightly different take.
Elections are, essentially, based on hope. Hope…and delusion. We’ll get to the second part in a moment, but first…
To the voters… the masses… the hoi polloi. Ultimately, each hopes to gain something he didn’t have before the ballots were cast.
One man wants a candidate who will funnel more resources toward his own chosen field of interest or employment…
Another wants one to make life tougher for his competitors—typically by imposing licenses, permits, and other such costly barriers to entry…
A third fellow, peering covetously over his back fence, hopes only for a little slice of his neighbors’ dough.
“They have plenty enough already,” he reasons. “What about me?”
Theft…manipulation…hiring bands of thugs to transfer other people’s money to one’s own pockets.
Decent folk wouldn’t dream of such slippery, underhanded tactics in their own private lives. On a practical level, individuals don’t have time for meddling in the affairs of others. They’ve got hair to cut…lawns to mow…children to raise…
Ordinarily, the threat of shame and embarrassment tends to temper our basest impulses.
Ah, but election season is no ordinary time. And it’s certainly no time for shame and embarrassment. Just look at the candidates! Utterly devoid of both!
Which brings us to the other side of the fence…
The candidates are hopeful too. Perhaps even more so than the average voter. But they are hopeful in a different way.
Usually, the average Joe just wants a piece of somebody else’s pie. A modest enough form of dishonesty.
The aspiring candidate, on the other hand, hopes to take a good-sized bite out of everybody’s pie.
It matters not whether you vote for Candidate A…or Candidate B…or not at all! In every election, the government wins.
And with so much pie on the line, candidates are only too happy to pander to the hopes of voters everywhere…even if they have no intention of ever delivering on their promises in the future.
Money for nuthin’? Sure!
Goods and services for free? Why not?
Peace on earth and good will among men? Hey, we’ve got time for that too!
And here you begin to sense the creep of delusion…
Money that comes from nothing…eventually returns to nothing.
Goods and services not paid for now, must be paid for in the future…and with interest!
And as for the greatest obstacle to peace on earth and good will among men?
Hint: They’re spending millions right now, trying to secure your vote.
It’s the End of the World as We Know it (And I Feel Fine)
Although some drivers on my commute are already playing by Mad Max rules, we probably won’t be living in a post-apocalyptic wasteland any time soon. Still, it never hurts to be prepared and a well-stocked preparedness kit can mean life or death in an emergency situation. Here are our essential items for a potentially life-saving preparedness kit.
Food: You’ll want to pack enough non-perishable food to last three days (in case of an extended rescue effort). Granola bars, trail mix, candy, jerky, and canned meats are ideal.
Water: Water will be one of the heaviest items on this list but an absolute essential. It’s a good idea to have a gallon of water per person, per day, and to pack water-purifying tablets in case you find a water source.
Clothing: Clothing takes up a lot of space but it’s important to stay warm and dry. Pack two shirts, a pair of trousers, a jacket, under garments, and plenty of socks.
Equipment: Make sure to pack a light source—such as a hand-cranked flashlight—a thermal blanket, and comprehensive first aid kit like the Fully Stocked First Responder Kit from Ever Ready. It’s also a good idea to keep some money in your kit as ATMs might not work in an emergency.—Ed