Jane Haddam’s WordPress weblog

Ends and Beginnings

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I have a real tendency to inertia–I don’t think I always did, but maybe I’m getting older, or maybe I’m getting stale–it’s hard to tell.

At any rate, I just did a whole lot of paperwork, and I did another lot yesterday, and now I’m almost free up to not worry about much for a few weeks, except that we’re traveling and there are logistics with children at schools, and…

You know what I mean.

I finished the Kenneth Minogue book today, just before I left to come out here, and although it didn’t say much I wasn’t expecting it to say, it formulated a few problems more precisely than I’d seen them formulated before.  I don’t know if that helps or not.  My two big complaints with Minogue are that he tends to use “European” definitions of things that are significantly different from the American varieties, and then to ascribe them to the entire “West.”  In some cases, this causes a distinct rise in the confusion level.  Europe and Canada are free to legislate against “hate speech” as speech, but the US is not, and that has a definite practical as well as theoretical effect on how society is run.

My other problem with him is that he gives the people he calls the “politico-moral” way too much credit for good intentions.  People with real good intentions would inquire into whether the things they’re doing actually help or instead harm–if the result of giving billions of dollars in aid to some African dictatorship results not in feeding the people of the country but in enriching the dictator and causing the people to starve even faster, they’d stop insisting we should give billions of dollars that African country.

What strikes me as the prime attribute of the “politico-moral” is rather self-regard–the point of it is not to actually reduce worldwide poverty, or even poverty within their own countries, but to be able to preen themselves on their high virtuousness, especially in relation to all those people who make so much more money than they do.

And then there are, of course, the people who opt into the “politico-moral” for the sake of power, period–but Minogue gets them.  It’s the hangers on and followers he doesn’t get.

And I have less and less impatience with them, as I do with people who scream bloody murder about being searched at the airport while giving various regultory agencies the right to enter homes and businesses without a warrant, take anonymous accusations and act on them as if they were probably cause, refuse to reveal relevant information to persons accused of violations, denying the Fifth amendment right against self incrimination, denying trial by jury, and a host more that would have gotten Bush and company lynched if they’d even suggested it–and all because there’s supposed to be a “significant government interest” in enforcing a set of regulations that have not been voted into law by legislators in the first place.

And by the way, if you think I’m making all that up–that no government agency operates like that–go looking around the Internet. 

Oh, and did I mention?  If the agency screws up, no matter how badly–if the accusations were false and you’d done nothing wrong, if it turns out that the investigation was motivated by spite on the part of investigators or the anonymous tipster who started it all–you can’t even sue. 

Sorry, but I listen to the screams and hollers of both Democrats and Republicans on Bush’s fascism and Obama’s Communism, and what I see is both sides willing to sign on to the power of whole mountains of agencies.  The Tea Party isn’t for me, but if something came along that would directly target this sort of thing, I’d be willing to sign on in a minute.

And the Tea Party doesn’t matter, because they’re not interested in changing that situation, either–like the standard Republicans and Democrats, they only want to change which agencies have the right to pull that kind of crap.

Whatever.  I’ve gone on to reading some more Agatha, where at least when there’s a body on the floor, there’s also a proper Constable and a set of rules to play the game by.

Too often, in the real world, the rules come down to some bureaucratic’s “because I said so.”

Written by janeh

December 16th, 2010 at 10:09 am

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses to 'Ends and Beginnings'

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  1. Hey, hey–some of us have been screeching about all of that! Finding a politician to vote for who agrees is a little tougher….



    16 Dec 10 at 1:25 pm

  2. In broad outline, I’d agree, but I dispute the moral equivalency.
    I am not always at one with conservatives, much less Republicans, but there is at least an element of these overlapping groups which holds that government has the legitimate power only to do certain things, and that “doing good things for good people” is not constitutional justification. I have observed no such faction among liberals or Democrats.
    Libs & Dems are more likely to argue that the Bill of Rights prohibits something that has been done regularly for generations, and then to confuse whether government ought to exercise a power with whether it legitimately possesses one. And they believe the same method can be used to force governmental activity, though htey’ve been less successful generally, in propagating European “rights.”
    Still, if, for nearly 200 years, the citizens of the United States could be arrested tried and convicted without a “Miranda” warning, and for more than a century there was no such thing as a free court-appointed attorney, than the Constitution of the United States does not really require such things, however desireable they may be. To argue otherwise permits the judiciary to eliminate governmental procedures or impose governmental activities with no constitutional check I can see–and it’s the core liberal position.

    That’s the conservative stance, and I’m sticking with it.


    17 Dec 10 at 6:09 am

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