Call me quaint, but I believe we are obligated to conform our beliefs to the actual world around us. It was chiefly on account of this that I felt compelled to take a perspective that we today call ‘conservative.’ There is the world we wished we lived in and there is the world that we actually live in. Another way of putting this is: people are as people are going to be and no social engineering will ever change what people are.
I begin this way as a response to those in the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ crowd. Let me acknowledge up front that I take many of them to be sincere in their desire to help humanity (over against the ‘elite’ progressives and Dems who I think are chiefly concerned with power). I also agree that many of the problems they cite are legitimate problems. It is the nature of their solutions that I am chiefly take issue with, and it is there that we see that they are fundamentally out of touch with reality.
Let’s say you are a wealthy business owner and the people in your town think that the way you’re making your money is not socially acceptable. The OWS folks, and leftists and progressives and liberals, etc, have one basic solution: pass a law to regulate that person’s business to require social compliance. At this point, the business owner, being an actual human being, will consider whether or not to comply with the law, or move to a jurisdiction where the law does not apply.
Now, for most of us, when faced with a burdensome law, we do not have the flexibility to simply pick up and leave. Indeed, since most of us are busy just living out our lives, minding our own business, we are rarely even aware of a burdensome law until after it is too late to do anything about it, and frankly- if we’re honest- we usually couldn’t do anything about it, anyway. Why not?
Again, the facts of reality set in. We’re busy. We have jobs. We have families. We have obligations. We don’t have the time and resources to keep track of everything our local municipality is up to, let alone the state and Federal government. Ah… but our wealthy business owner, if he is sufficiently wealthy, can position himself to be aware of what is happening to him legislatively, and more than that, can hire people whose sole jobs are to attempt to influence that legislation.
Come on, admit it. If you had the money, you’d do the same thing. But since you don’t have the money, you chafe at others doing it. But the business person is only doing what a human in that situation can be expected to do. Now, does the liberal mind recognize this fact and note well how in passing the first round of legislation the actually incrementally disenfranchised themselves? Ha! No, sir. Obviously what is necessary is another round of legislation, another layer of bureaucracy, another committee, or whatever. Right?
Now, each time this happens, another lever of power is created, and hence another point in the system where someone with means can attempt to influence how that power is asserted. They, naturally (being humans acting as humans always will!), will attempt to influence this new legislation and this new level of bureaucracy in a way that will benefit them. You would do the same, if only you had the means.
But here we recognize a new phenomenon. As each new regulation is added on top of previous regulations, and new layers are created on top of old layers, and new oversight committees are created to oversee previous oversight committees, it becomes the case that our wealthy business owner will reach a point where he is no longer able to finance the kind of operation necessary to remain fully involved in the processes directly affecting him.
However, other wealthy folks- a corporation, perhaps- can. And they do. And this spawns yet another new phenomenon: the ability of these more deeply connected entities to influence legislation so that it not only represents their interests, but can directly or indirectly undermine competitors.
What does the leftist say to that? “The horror! The horror! What we need is a new law! A new oversight committee! More regulation!” And our politicians, who never tire of pressing the levers of power and creating new ones to play with, happily comply. The actual result is that the organizations they are trying to stick it to- big corporations, most notably- are presented with one more rung of the ladder that they, and probably only they, will have the wherewithal to climb. At the same time, note what has happened to the individual, the sole proprietor, and the small businessman: he has been left behind, disenfranchised by legislation by a thousand cuts, and subject to regulations that were influenced by competitors who no doubt protected their own interests.
In short, the Wall Street Protesters, and the left in general, has in its rage (at possibly legitimate wrongs), brought about the very circumstances that they deplore. They brought the corruption on their own heads and in their mindless lashing about and emotional frothing at the mouth call for even more of what put them in that state in the first place.
Examples of these phenomena are rampant and everywhere, and bear all the marks of how the real world works. For years, Microsoft did their worst and then the government got involved- next thing you know, Microsoft got involved in the lobbying business to the tune of millions and millions of dollars. No wonder the new tech firm starting up in the guys garage had trouble making headway. Google does the same thing. You can be sure the huge toy manufacturers protected their interests when the new lead testing requirements went into effect (nearly putting out of business every thrift shop in the country overnight!) Monsanto, perhaps the most evil corporation that has ever existed, continues to trample on whomever they wish- and you can be darn sure that in the Food Safety Modernization Act they made sure their interests were preserved.
Who of you, my friends, have the resources to make sure that your interests are protected and preserved while the big boys were doing the same? And you really think the solution is yet another layer of legislation and bureaucracy?
In saying all this, I am not necessarily arguing for no regulations at all. I am highlighting the real effect of trying to solve problems in that manner. I’m talking about the real effect on average Americans and small businessmen in determining their own course and making sure their own interests are protected and preserved. People will be people, and will do what people do. People with money who want more money will do the things that people will do when they have money and want more of it. People without money and want more money may want to do certain things but will not be able to afford it. By turning to additional layers of bureaucracy, they actually harm themselves- and worse, make it even more difficult to reverse the harm.
Nor do I wish anyone to think that Republicans have been all that great at resisting this trend. But that’s another issue.
I conclusion, I would like to point out that there are people out there who understands how this works: the advocates of the central planners. What is communism except the acknowledgement that people will be people unless other people put their boots on the necks of others to prevent them from doing what they would otherwise do?
But at least they recognize the reality of how people will actually behave if left to their own devices. That’s why they won’t leave anyone to their own devices… by using a gun, rather than a law.