Saturday, August 02, 2008

Why Blaming Our "Leaders" Doesn't Work

From time to time, Chaos has noticed an interesting phenomenon: commentators attempting to shift the blame for the current predicament in which the US finds itself onto the political leadership, exemplified by a current editorial in the nation's paper of record. In light of candidate Barack Obama's latest ridiculous proposal (to send everyone $1000, paid for by windfall profits taxes on oil companies), let's check in with this pernicious idea:

"Americans would be using far less gas — and consumers and the automobile industry would be much better off — if Congress had summoned the wisdom and political courage 20, 10, even five years ago to impose tough fuel economy standards on the nation’s transportation fleet." (emphasis Chaos')

Let's think for a moment as to why "wisdom and...courage" would be required of our elected officials. Could it be, perhaps, that taking these actions would result in said officials being turned out of office? (Chaos hopes you know the answer to this question...) Is it possible, do you think, that these same leaders are well aware of this particular dynamic? In light of the extreme differences in fuel economy seen between the US and the rest of the Western nations, Chaos would suggest the following framework for analysis whenever you hear some version of this silly editorial:

1. Elected officials are still elected in the Empire, election manipulation and fraud notwithstanding. An elected officials' first priority is retaining the position; all else is secondary, and the "public interest" likely comes last, or not at all.
2. No leader will remain in the post for very long if viewpoints taken (regarding energy) are at odds with that of the character of the electing public. (Chaos is well aware of such anomalies as Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, but such is the exception which proves the rule)
3. If the character of the public is insane, stupid, delusional, greedy, short-sighted, etc., the elected leaders will reflect this, just as surely as if it were sane, intelligent, clear-thinking, prudent, etc. Such populations exist in the world; just look around (hint: Norway). One potent symbol of this principle is the nature of the political "conversation," i.e., is it intelligent, relevant, sober, or is it silly, lacking in substance, verging on ridiculous, and panders to voters' most base instincts? (Again, Chaos hopes you've been paying attention...)

In light of the above, it is simply unrealistic to excoriate so-called "leaders" for failing to do what the public clearly does not believe in. For the same reasons, changing the current crop of officials will not produce any better results. This also explains the incoherence of the political discussion, whereby gas prices must be reduced, and at the same time, the nation's thirst for energy needs to be curbed (if you think these two propositions aren't inconsistent, please read some more....). Best hopes for less delusional thinking...

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