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I think it was Lawrence Peter who popularized the idea that human
beings rise to their level of incompetence, and from that lofty position
of ascendancy they devote the rest of their careers to inflicting their
demonstrated incompetence upon the rest of us.

The example that Dr. Peter used (my apologies if this honor belongs
to another), and that has stuck so well in my mind, was this:

The Board of Directors for a power utility meets to approve
construction of a nuclear power plant. The consultant’s engineers
present their findings, followed by management with the multi-billion
dollar price tag. There are no questions. The project is approved
unanimously and off the agenda in half-an-hour. The second item for
discussion is erecting a bicycle shed for the employees. The ensuing
discussion lasts for three hours and everyone is heard, while no
decision can be reached.

Surely this model is an accurate depiction of our vaunted Congress,
federal bureaucracy, and President. We are daily living Dr. Peter’s
absurdity:

School children are murdering one another in public classrooms,
while Congress debates tobacco legislation that will “save children’s
lives.”

Schools are awash in illegal drugs, teenage gangs conduct open
warfare on school playgrounds, while administrators suspend children for
giving one another an aspirin, and Federal Food and Drug Administration
bureaucrats demand the right to regulate tobacco as a dangerous drug!

Homosexual perversion is touted as a “normal family life” by the
establishment thought police, the most obscene forms of violence against
other human beings are broadcast as “black” rap music entertainment and
played out on white suburban teenagers’ computer gaming screens, while
legislators stiffen the penalties for “hate” crimes.

One or both of our major political parties have likely committed
treason by selling America’s military secrets to a foreign power for the
cash necessary to buy reelection, while they take their seat in Congress
and debate the need for “tougher” campaign finance laws.

The list could go on, but you get the point — there no longer is a
point. Our government has become a House not of cards, but of fools.
They use endless amounts of public money to buy “spokesmen” whose only
job is to confuse the issues. They, however, remain blissfully unaware
that there are any issues. They use our money to hire carloads of
lawyers to assist them in lawmaking, only to claim attorney-client
privilege so they can hide their deeds from the light of public view.

The lot of them can agree upon only one thing: the desirability of
extracting ever-increasing sums of vote-buying monies through tobacco
taxes and other wild-eyed schemes, to placate a public deemed adequately
dumbed-down to gratefully accept their own debasement and ruin at the
hands of a paternalistic, ever- expanding, corrupt and elitist-favors
run state.

Can there be any doubt that the whole of Washington, D.C., from the
lowliest intern to the Most Powerful Man in the World, and every
bureaucrat and lawmaker in between, along with the beltway press is
certifiably and criminally insane? That these same people are convinced
daily by no more than half-a-dozen newspapers and television broadcast
networks that it is the American people, and not themselves, who have
lost their grip on reality? That these blessed and beloved American
people must — for their own good — and at all costs — be kept locked
safely in the large, comfortable asylum prepared for them “outside the
beltway,” until the keepers inside legislate us into nirvana, repeal the
laws of physics, and perfect perpetual motion?

Correction: Thanks to reader Richard Soderholm, for identifying C.
Northcote Parkenson as the author who should be credited with my
nuclear power plant and bicycle shed committee anecdote in “House
of Fools,” the above essay. I had, with nagging doubts, suggested
Dr. Lawrence Peter was the author.

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