The Great Debate
I was over at Harry’s house last night for dinner (He cooks, I don’t, and Mary is gone he’s a real friend). After our meal, Harry and I got into our usual discussion/debate about the state of the world and how we will fix things when we are declared emperors.
Harry has this theory, which he picked up from someone else during a dinner meeting in Washington, that people at the top of many governmental organizations are little more than uninformed figureheads. His thesis is that the titular heads are too busy going to meetings, making speeches, running for office, etc., to keep up with the mundane duties of their office, so they end up delegating these duties to assistants and office staff.
These people in turn digest and filter the incoming data and pass it along to the top people. Jonathan Swift in his book "Gulliver's Travels" parodied this with his notion that assistants had to flap bladders against the mouths and ears of their superiors in order to get them to hear and speak.
Today’s assistants not only get the attention of their bosses, they decide who gets access to the boss. They decide what information reaches their boss and what doesn’t. They set policy. They interject their own personal opinions in numerous ways. Not only that, they form alliances with other assistants of a like mind to further their own views.
Harry, the cynic, takes this a step further. He believes that not only do the assistants manage their bosses, but that civil servants several layers below the top actively subvert those at the top with false information and reports. If a new director, of say the FBI, comes in and a fifteen-year career veteran firmly entrenched in the organization doesn’t like his politics, then it is easy to make the boss look bad.
This discussion on how un-elected people wield so much power led to the more general topic of corruption in government. Harry thinks that the US government is completely corrupt from top to bottom. I told him I’d go him one better. My opinion is that the entire northeast coast of America is rotten to the core starting with New Jersey and Massachusetts.
I then told Harry that I was going to advise my children to leave the US as soon as they completed college. Harry countered with the argument that all countries had corrupt governments. I argued that in Mexico there was enough governmental inefficiency that one could escape the corruption. In Mexico one could start a business without getting fifty different permits first and without a vast multitude of laws to labor under like affirmative action or being closed down because some endangered minnow or red-legged frog might be hurt. And the frosting on the cake was that you didn’t have to worry about some tort lawyer suing you for everything you owned.
Harry argued back that it was not possible to escape a corrupt government. I thought about it for a minute and then I remembered the comment that Harry had earlier made that there was real money in Mexico. I reminded Harry of his comment and then blew him off the map with a simple observation.
"There’s real money in Mexico, but it’s in private pockets. The Mexican government obviously hasn’t figured out how to take it away yet."
Those two simple sentences tied together a lot of what I’ve written about in regards to Mexico the lack of belief in the idea of a common good the lack of welfare, Social Security, alimony, child support and other income transfer programs operated under threat of imprisonment the street vendors who operate without permits or police interference the lack of vengeful laws that tax you for ten years and bar you from the country after you change citizenship.
It all adds up to freedom. The US does not have it. Mexico does. I can prove that just by showing where the money is. The Mexican government wants to privatize the water distribution system because it doesn’t have the money to fix it. The people have it. It’s in private pockets. End of argument.
President Fox is trying to Americanize Mexico. Someone has drawn his attention to the fact that Mexicans pay less in taxes than the citizens do in most other countries. So he is sending out the police to force vendors in the small outdoor markets to get permits and keep records and pay taxes. I’ve seen the police myself three of them walking up the street to a market. Reportedly they confiscate (steal let’s not be polite) a vendor’s merchandise if they are not on the books.
I understand that Mexico needs money for infrastructure, but the way to do it is to stop the stealing by politicians. Taking more money from the people is not the solution. If you’ve got a leaky bucket, you need to fix the holes first not fill it up with more water.
Anyway, I’m going to advise my children to come to Mexico where the people are still free. Thanks for the discussion Harry.