Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Intellectual Entropy Wins Again!

The Republican Party seems to have taken on the character of the wandering Jew in Medieval legend: unable to die, roaming the earth, trying to find a home. Now there's worse news for the GOP: polls show that less and less voters identify themselves as Republicans; among the young, the label "Republican" is roughly as popular as "bookworm".

Of course, there's always room in one's diet for a large grain of salt; some of us old timers remember back in the bygone age of 2005, when they said that Republicans would have a "permanent majority" and the Democrats would likely never be in power again. Besides, it sounds to me like voters are now more likely to call themselves "independents" instead of Democrats or Republicans. And while I prefer a government that has, at least, two parties, I'm not convinced at all that they need to be these two.

Still the Grand Old Party just 'aint what she used to be. The irony is that the GOP's problems are fairly glaring if you're not a Republican, but if you're not a Republican, they don't want to hear from you! Nevertheless...

It seems to me that political platforms are created in the same way as works of art: by the interaction of the genius of individuals with the time and place that they find themselves. While this means that there's something timeless to great art, there's also something about them that is time-bound, and which can become dated and retro.

What struck me about the Republicans during the last election was that the party platform was basically unchanged from the days of Reagan: cut taxes, increase defense spending, shrink the government in some unspecified way, legislate morality, and make sure to protect individual freedoms while doing so! The problem is that Reagan had several pragmatic solutions to specific problems of that time and place- I can fairly easily historicize them if anyone so desires. Since then, these pragmatic solutions have become articles of faith. I think this is the problem.

This problem afflicts all political parties, I'd imagine. And, there are still some good ideas in there- if the national debt relative to GDP keeps increasing at the current rate, expect conservative ideas about government spending to roar back in popularity! But some of these ideas are outdated, irrelevant, and contradictory. I'm obviously not the one to decide which ideas should stay and which ones should go. And I'm no better at saying which parties should stay and which ones should go.

But it's worth noting that the undeclared winner of every election thus far seems to be entropy.


The Pagan Temple said...

The screwy thing is, there has not been a president of either party who has not presided over government growth, usually significant growth, since the 1920's. Military spending is off the charts. There is nothing conservative about that. They need to reign it in, but nobody wants to touch that live wire.

rufus said...

Right, well the thing is cutting taxes and "starving the beast" isn't a bad idea at all. It's just that none of them have actually starved the beast in any real way. Obama is either going to reign in the debt in the next few years or preside over extreme inflation and the collapse of the dollar. He's spending himself into a corner, so maybe the military will receive cuts. It's already larger than any other military on earth by quite a bit, but yeah, people always want it to be bigger.

As for the military, it does strike me as strange that every president is required to send the military somewhere to show they're willing to do it. The mammoth military made sense during the Cold War, when the largest country on earth was pointing thousands of missiles at the US. But it's harder to justify when the country's using its military on these Utopian, ill-conceived, and frankly stupid democracy-building projects in the Middle East.

And, I'd note that real conservatives would never have sent the military into Mesopotamia to see if we can turn the country into a democracy. Doesn't anyone read Burke anymore?

The Pagan Temple said...

Even during the days when it was justified, there was a large percentage of money that went to kickbacks, graft, and just plain waste. I bet you could cut forty percent from the military now with no or very minor ill-effects.

The most obvious effect would be in the civilian contractors sphere. They would be faced with a lot of lay-offs due to what would and should be the first obvious target for elimination, the continued production of outmoded weapons and systems.

That old joke about the two hundred dollar toilet seat and fifty dollar hammer ain't too far off the mark either. By the time all the different requisition orders make the rounds for signing by first one department head and then another, the time taken up for signing requisitions starts to add up.

They could cut billions just by streamlining the process, and they could easily do so. They just don't want to. It's the nature of all government bureaucrats to look for reasons to receive more funding-not less.

That's the real problem among many others with large government. It amounts to government by bureaucracy, which means any talk of spending cuts is almost an obscene, cruel joke which should be taken with a huge dose of Epsom salts.

Rufus said...

I had a friend in High School whose parents lived in the ritzier suburb in our area- and therefore one of the more expensive in the country- almost entirely because his mother had a small business painting offices in the Pentagon and repainting them on an annual basis. I don't know if you could find many painting companies doing as well as her's was.

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