Thursday, May 16, 2013

A Thursday Thought Experiment


Here’s a little thought experiment for your Thursday morning:

If you worked for a bakery, if your livelihood depended on the sale of delicious pastries packed with fat and calories that are terrible for you but nonetheless scrumptious, then you would have a vested interest in promoting the increased popularity of said pastries, wouldn’t you?

If your ability to feed your family depended on the survival of the newspaper business, you would most likely not be a huge fan of the new media of internet news sites that are killing your industry. You would quite naturally be a rather passionate defender of the good old fashioned “dead tree” media.

Similarly, if you ran a large energy company whose fortunes were made extracting oil and natural gas from the ground, your biggest nightmare would be to discover that some teenager in a garage in Buffalo had just discovered how to power a car engine for 500 miles on a single drop of some substance he invented by accident one day while fooling around with some junk he found behind a storage shed out back. For although the world would be a far better, cleaner place because of this kid’s discovery, your energy company, and its fortunes would be thrown in the dust bin of history.

I say all of this to illustrate a point about the IRS scandal now consuming Washington. Why should any of us be surprised to learn that the Internal Revenue Service, the most powerful and feared agency of our government has been harassing organizations who are ideologically opposed to big government? Why should we be shocked that the one agency of government charged with the relentless collection of taxes, the unquenchable pursuit of the fuel that powers the mechanism of the State would be hostile to groups whose goal it is to reduce the size of said government?

This quaint notion that government employees are completely apolitical, evenhanded administrators of the public trust is a delusion and always has been. By and large, the great hordes of public employees who run the bureaucracy have an unavoidable bias towards keeping their jobs. Like all other workers in this country, they have a vested interest in their own prosperity, and why shouldn’t they? When I hear about survey after survey after survey that finds that 60 or 70%, or whatever the latest number is, of public employees vote Democrat I always think, “well…DUH!” I know very few conservatives or libertarians who sat around as kids thinking, “Boy, when I grow up I want to go to work for the Department of Housing and Urban Development!!”

Here’s the truth. The Democratic Party in this country is the party of government. People who are invested in government tend to work FOR government. It is an irrefutable, undeniable fact of life. Since conservatives and libertarians generally support some form of rolling back of State power and all its accoutrements, few of them go to work for the State. Sure, there are exceptions to every rule. I’m sure there is come cadre of conservative, low-tax, low-regulation types huddled secretly at the water cooler somewhere in the bowels of the Justice Department, but as a rule, displaying a Tea-Party flag in the cafeteria of any agency of the federal government would probably be a bad career move.
I'm sure that there are some very fine people who work for government, and God bless them everyone, but, the next time you hear any politician describing a government agency as “independent”, just remember, that’s not how the people running the place vote.