The Nature of the Thing

Things exist in accordance with their natures, and to the extent they act, they act in accordance with their natures. So…

We have a generation of politicians, of both parties and of whom Thompson is symbolic, who want to say "yes" to voters: Yes, you can have what you want, and you can have it now. The solution to this problem requires leaders to say "no" to voters: No, you cannot have all the retirement benefits you’ve been promised or desire, because we can’t afford them. Americans reject that message, and our leaders don’t dare deliver it.

In wealthy democracies — welfare states all — individual benefits once conferred are considered sacrosanct, but when their total costs threaten the collective good, they must somehow be controlled. There’s the paralyzing contradiction. The politics of "yes" must ultimately yield to the politics of "no" — and the longer it’s delayed, the more painful it will be.

That’s Robert Samuelson in the WaPo. So, as I was saying, things exist in accordance with their natures. To wit, McDonald’s sells burgers and fries and not cucumber & watercress sandwiches because it’s a burgers and fries fast-food joint. Duh. Babies cry, rub their food in their hair, and crap their diapers because they’re babies and not Washington Post columnists (though I might be drawing too fine a distinction, there). My Hummer climbs tall mountains, but can’t get me to Hawaii because it’s a great SUV, but doesn’t float worth shit. Duh. Duh. Duh.

So why is it that virtually no one can grasp the nature of politics in a Democracy, and instantly recognize that what Samuelson is proposing is as fantastical as me expressing a sincere hope that my Hummer will carry my wife and our respective parents to Hawaii for our trip in February?

But Samuelson is right about one thing when he says that "The politics of ‘yes’ must ultimately yield to the politics of ‘no’ — and the longer it’s delayed, the more painful it will be." What he doesn’t understand is that this change requires immutable reality to assert itself. When that happens in this particular situation, it’s not going to be pretty–and "democracy" is going to be the very last thing anyone’s worried about.

(link: Franks)

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