American Elephants


The Dismantling of American Culture and What to Do About It by The Elephant's Child

From David Mamet’s The Secret Knowledge:

Let us assume, then, that each party partakes equally of the human capacity for good and bad, for corruption, for misguided compassion, and of overweening cupidity; and that each will suffer failures of projects both good-willed and merely monstrously self-serving.

The question as posed by Milton Friedman, was not “What are the decisions?” — any human or conglomeration is capable of decisions both good and bad — but “Who makes the decisions?” Shall it be the Government, that is, the State, or shall it be the Individual?

In some cases it must be the Government, which is, in these, the only organ capable of serving and protecting individual  liberty and freedom; notably, in defense, the administration of justice, and maintenance of and oversight of Federal Infrastructure, e.g. Roads, Interstate Travel, Waterways, Parks, and so on. But what in the world is the Government doing meddling in Education, Health Care, automobile Production, and the promotion of dubious, arguable or absurd programs designed to bring about “equality”? Should these decisions not be left to the Individual or to a Free Market, in which forces compete, to serve the Individual who will be the arbiter of their success?

“But which system,” Mamet asks, “Free Enterprise, or the State, is better able to correct itself?”

Nothing is free.  All  human interactions are tradeoffs.  One may figure out a way to (theoretically) offer cheap health insurance to the twenty million supposedly uninsured members of our society.  But at what cost — the dismantling of the health care system of the remaining three-hundred-million-plus? What of the inevitable reduction, shortages, abuses, delay and injustice caused by all State rationing?

All civilizations need and get Government. But how much and at what cost? Many governments began as Welfare States dedicated, they claimed to distributing the lands abundance to all. And as redistribution  increases, so does resistance to those choices, and the Welfare State descends into dictatorship. The cost of all this benevolently intended redistribution is shortage, famine, murder, and the eventual collapse of the state.

We are in the process of choosing, as a society, between Liberty— the freedom to pursue happiness free from the State — and Equality, which can only be brought about by a State empowered to function in all facets of  life which means totalitarianism and dictatorship.

Does the State decide for the citizen? Or does the individual insist on a reduction of State powers to that point at which the power is reserved only for the application as specified by law, where one individual or group abridges the liberty of another?

The latter is the revolutionary understanding of government spelled out in that Constitution elected officials swear to defend.  They are elected as public servants, the public granting them only that freedom of action necessary to fulfill that oath.  Is it not time for a return to that revolutionary understanding?

David Mamet is the noted playwright, author, director and filmmaker, Pulitzer prizewinner, and former liberal, who awakened,  examined his politics seriously and at great depth, and wrote a highly entertaining and enjoyable book about his conversion.

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2 Comments so far
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Everyone has their favorite economist. Their are enough economist out their for every motivated reasoner, even myself.

Are we not a republic, a representative form of government? If that is the case is it not the people that are making the decisions through their vote?

Why is it that the wisdom of the crowd in the free markets is the greatest thing since sliced bread but when it comes to the wisdom of the crowd expressing their government policy choices through elections it is a failure. The system is broke. I do not buy into the conservative, liberal, or libertarian ideological arguments.

We have the government that we vote into office, own it. The problem is not government but people “rent seeking” advantages in society and the economic markets. Rent seeking is as old as man. We also live in a global economy.

Let’s not forget that government and the free markets are a tool of society to get what they want and need, the later used for the short term and the former used for the long term.

If conservatives want me to take them seriously then they need to walk the walk and quit talking the talk.

Comment by Mark Baird

Mamet is not an economist, he’s rather a famous playwright. He was a liberal and made a conversion, and like many who have had that experience was pressed to write about it because he is more eloquent than most, and thought and studied about it deeply. I posted that excerpt from his book because I found it interesting. https://americanelephant.wordpress.com/wp-admin/edit-comments.php#comments-form

Comment by The Elephant's Child




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