Nov 19, 2009

Self Interest: How Many Degrees of Separation are You From Placing Yourself Ahead of Your Country?

A number I'd like to have, if the AP or the so-called reality media could ever get around to it, is the number of all the people who constitute those gears you find yourself jammed in. First we'd have to identify their various teeth in the cogs, as Andrew Breitbart has been so tirelessly undertaking with his BigGovernment and BigHollywood websites.

Start with what I call the "thin, brown line" that exists between you and total anarchy. That would be the public services sector, which is sustained by your ability to go to work and pay taxes so that you can enjoy the civility of clean running water, a toilet, and the convenience of garbage pick-up at your curb. We must have these things, but those who work these jobs ostensibly, would never vote for someone who would require more efficiency, productivity or accountability that would result in the loss of one job.

So, we have decent people who are tempted by the fact of their vital services, to make every political decision based on their self-interest. Is that wrong? Isn't it healthy to secure one's survival?

At the cost of another's?

There's the gritty little, tedious truth about our so-called Democracy. It's been summed up in the "ability to vote largesse unto themselves" observation, and summarily lost in translation in the trickle-down of verbal lore. It lives quite openly, however, and robustly right next door to you. I don't think there's a need to belabor how far-reaching the self-interest has blossomed and who started it. I think Cain did.

So as we enter into more political seasons, let's calculate the number of people who are providers to the largesse--let's call it the common purse-- and those who have a self-interest in procuring a lifestyle of any sort from the common purse. From the sewer worker to the city-builder to the FDIC, to the DMV and NASA, nobody wants to lose their job. In fact, many want to create more jobs (not just the politicians) in order to demonstrate their worth to an agency or bureau. It's the order of things, and is quite acceptable among the cogs of the wheel. In fact, if you pointed it out to them as a selfish and self-interested practice, they would be dismayed, so far removed are they from the reality of where all the money to support their ambition comes from. (I know! I know! It comes from Obama, he's got a stash.)

Last year, while working for a very high-profile and saintly non-profit organization my eyes were further opened to this. I watched as the satraps and footling managers scrambled to acquire more employees and programs and government money in order to raise their own stature within the organization. It was mergers and acquisitions, just like Wall Street, all in the guise of doing good for the less fortunate.

Self-interest so artfully disguised that even the do-gooders embrace its practice.

Think. Think of the number of self-interested (in the generic, non-judgmental sense) people employed by your tax dollars. Now consider how many small businessmen, builders, makers of products and services, generators of wealth there are that do not rely on the common purse for their success.

I suspect the numbers have moved well past the middle mark. It's not the yawning abyss of a deficit that will define the mid-point because it only takes a Congressional handful of people to spend us into perdition. No, the tipping point is the sheer number of people you can attach to the Borg-like machine that will assure your tenure. Which is why we have Ivy League Borgs, Entertainment Borgs, Art Borgs, Law Enforcement Borgs, Infrastructure Borgs, Illegal Borgs, and Charity Borgs.

The personal tipping point is when you tire of the rat race, the grindstone, the taxes, the burdens of providing to the common purse, and go in for a sweet and secure bit of survival: a city/county/state/federal job or even just a non-profit museum job supported by government grants. Maybe you do vital security work or invaluable infrastructure work, or maybe you are just one of five supervisors watching one man dig a ditch. Either way, you have moved across the line into a procurer from the common purse. Whatever the intangible worth of your existence, you are mathematically a political entity at odds with diligent oversight of the common weal.

None of this makes anyone a bad person. It's just a political reality that when we cross the line in numbers great enough, when a politician can secure enough constituents either by outright welfare or government jobs and charitable grants, there is NO WAY that the providers and wealth-generators and small businesses can remove the self-interested from their own sense of survival. The house will divide against itself in the most crucial way, and will fall.

This is the math I want to see: How many singular people provide, how many singular people take.

ACORN knew the numbers were close enough to activate a full-on effort to drive the tipping point in their favor. Much good may it do them, and us, when the crossover is reached.

So, Tipping Point. We there yet? Or did we cross it during the Bush administration? I hate to blame the simplest of political nightmare scenarios on a rush to secure something so insipid as a GOP majority at the cost of our national fiscal security, but George Bush never met a spending bill he could veto. This will redound to the worst of his legacy: it appears that he put Party ahead of country, thinking it populated with better people than it apparently is.

Obama is making sure the teeter totters over to Left permanently by driving the last productive members of society into the arms of government security, making it easier to live off the dole of services and welfare than to actually work at something productive.

No matter who you voted for, we all still got the government we deserve.

Anybody know someone who can score a sweet government job for me?


Van said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Van said...

"So, Tipping Point. We there yet?"

Still teetering back and forth, I think. Note - those who aren't actually acting to help it tip to the right, are actively allowing it to fall apart... which to the left is just as useful as tipping left.

(deleted last... learned grammar in public school. sigh)

Anonymous said...

“Last year, while working for a very high-profile and saintly non-profit organization my eyes were further opened to this.”

Yes. My wife worked for one a number of years ago. Once I saw how much the highest-up was making, I just couldn’t get past that part anymore. Clearly, even if only 10% of a large pile of donation is more than I can do to help the needy, it is a good thing. But maybe “help thy neighbor” really means “when you see a starving man in the gutter, you give him something to eat, or take him to a hospital, or have him stay the night…” is the better one than dropping $50 in an envelope and thinking you met your call. If you can do the $50 it is good, but it’s much better to do the other if you are going to decide between the two.


PeggyU said...

Here is the thing that gets to me: budgets. When a government agency gets its appropriated allotment for the year, it must make sure not one penny is left unspent by the end of the fiscal year. If there is money left over, the agency's budget may be cut for the next year.

Naturally, therefore, there is wasteful spending. We have an unnecessary 2-million dollar roundabout in our town that is (I believe) the direct result of a government entity trying to spend in order to maintain its level of funding. Of course, the city had to match the funds to pay for the damned thing, which meant our state AND local taxes went to pay for it. 85% of people polled by the town paper said they didn't think it was needed, with another 7% undecided. Yet it still got rammed through. I think that speaks volumes to the self-interest problem, even at the local level. At least the mayor and a few councilmen subsequently lost their jobs at the next election because of it.

Human behavior is one of the biggest problems with health insurance as it is currently provided. I don't know about you, but if I reach the annual deductible for the year, I go for it and get other things out of the way - things I might otherwise have let go - since if I save them for the next year I'll have a new deductible to meet. I think a lot of things would sort themselves out if insurance were not tied to your employment, and if people could limit themselves to high-deductible, low-premium catastrophic policies and pay for the ordinary stuff out-of-pocket. Sorry about the rant. I'll shut up now!

Joan of Argghh! said...

No problem, Peggy, rant all you like. I still think you should have your own blog, y'know!


mushroom said...

This is off the topic, but I couldn't help thinking about what is implied here. It's kind of Joan meets The Postman.

When the city can no longer pay their wages (or pay with something worthless), what will the guy down at the powerplant, the garbageman, and the boys down at the waterworks -- not to mention the policeman and the firefighter -- do? Are they going to keep doing their jobs because they live on the lines, too? Will any keep doing what they do just because they care about the folks who depend on them? Are they going to load up and head for the hills?

PeggyU said...

Sorry, Joan! If I could write, I would! I appreciate your letting me vent. :)

a said...

What happens is that as more people lose their jobs in all sectors, they are forced to join those vying for what fewer opportunities are out there, willing to accept less and less for their work. It doesn't matter what sector it is - private, public, non-profit. Less jobs = more opportunity for those still holding thew purse strings to offer less. Take a spin through Craig's List in any city to see the appallingly low wages being offered compared to this time last year.

So, n o, we haven't reached the tipping point yet. How low can we go?

I went from $75.00 oper hour to $15.00 per hour quite literally overnight.

Ban kruptcy is now my only option but the feds still get their pound of flesh.

I wonder if enough people declare bankruptcy because they are forced into it, will that cause the collapse of banks despite our government's willingness to throw our hard-earned tax dollars at them like a drunken sailor on shore leave in a whorehouse?

What is the Tipping Point?

Armed revolution?

Bob said...

Gravity isn't the only force at work here -- the public sector has more than the weight of its dependent constituency pulling for it. There's also the magnetic attraction of elitism. High-level bureaucrats are compelled by more than their own self-interest; they also see themselves as the enlightened saviors of society. Such self-righteous certitude is a powerful motivation to use every opportunity to extend the reach of government.

spanky said...

And let's not forget the Union Borg. 51% of who's members are now in public employees unions which use member's dues to spend hundreds of millions to elect more sympathetic politicians, and the cycle continues.

Joan of Argghh! said...

Consider the retired employees on city pensions, as well. No one can begrudge the firemen, policeman, etc., but the city wonks and admins and politicians who collect a king's ransom well after their tenure. Why should a congresscritter get a lifetime pension after one term? Wait. I know the answer! Because they can vote one unto themselves. And put their agenda ahead of their country's.

The J. R. thinks I'm wrong, thinks we're millions and millions of people away from the midpoint. I'm not so sure.

GUYK said...

The economy is going to collapse before too many more years. A government just can't spend its way to prosperity...

I figure that within five years the economy will collapse and the standard of living for the majority of us will collapse with it. Those of us who have a large stockpile of precious metal, ie full metal jacket type of metal, will have something valuable for bartering and to protect what assets we manage to keep. The rest of the nation will be in deep trouble