September 06, 2009
Sunday morning relative nihilism
There are few things in life I detest more than enthusiasm for government. And as my luck would have it, last night I ate dinner surrounded by people who feel exactly the opposite way. Young, enthusiastic, left-wing policy wonks, who are simply drooling over the prospect of implementing government programs. It was a sickening experience, although I kept telling myself that I might learn something by listening. I learned nothing; it only reconfirmed my hatred for all things government -- and my loathing for the mindset that would tell people what to do.
And telling people what to do is what it's all about. These folks see themselves as benevolent dictators, working for the public good. I'd call them "self-appointed" except that they think they've earned it by virtue of their training (graduate degrees in proper subjects), and their enthusiastic attitude is roughly analogous to police academy graduates all set to go out and fight crime in the big bad world.
Depressing? I don't know if that's the right word, because they were like aliens to me. All of them were young enough to be my kids, and the universities are turning them out assembly-line style, and they're ready to go, like fully operational turn-key systems.
It occurred to me that there are probably a few conservatives who also get graduate degrees from the same places, in the same government-related subjects, but that thought did not comfort me in the least. Had I been surrounded by young conservative policy wonks, I'd have had a lot more to agree with, but the problem is that I deeply distrust all government, and anyone who wants to be involved in it is therefore suspect. It's that love of power that I find so disgusting.
Libertarians, of course, believe in the less government the better, and would agree wholeheartedly with Ronald Reagan's stated philosophy that "government is not the solution to the problem; government is the problem."
And good luck filling all the policy wonk spots with people who think like that.
Little wonder the conservative policy wonks invented National Greatness Conservatism.
Libertarians like me who hate government have nothing to offer.
I'd say "literally" -- except I might be accused of advocating nihilism, and we can't have that, can we? Certainly not on a Sunday.
In terms of government, nothingness is relative. If you're a federalist who believes in the 9th and 10th Amendments, to roll back the size and scope of the federal government to constitutional limits would mean completely shutting down virtually every federal department except for State, Defense, Treasury, Attorney General, and maybe Interior (which was added in 1849):
Here's a hypothetical hit list of what I'd slate for utopian annihilation:
Close them all. Including every alphabet soup bureaucracy that's within another department but which exercises power or jurisdiction that isn't specifically empowered by the Constitution.
Getting rid of all that would be a good start.
Not total nihilism, just relative.
posted by Eric on 09.06.09 at 09:12 AM
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