Last week, this column explained the divide between Americans and their “Overlords Who Art in D.C.” I asked that you quit invoking words too weak to describe that divide. “Disconnect,” “disrespect”: These are soft designations; they don’t begin to bridge the moat that separates you from your sovereigns.
Proper metaphors for the relationship between The Great Unwashed and the government that literally has them by the genitals is that of ruled and ruler, Rome and its provinces, Imperial China and its peasants.
If you’re a taxpayer – at least 50 percent of Americans are tax consumers – you are the Beltway’s b–ch.
So stop beseeching sinecured statists for “hope” and “change.” They will never know what it’s like to slum it in your neighborhoods. They’ll never experience the effects of inflation and rising prices as you will; they’ve voted themselves salaries twice as high as yours and pensions in perpetuity. You’re paying.
Think of yourself as a servant, your nose pressed against your master’s mansion windows. That’s how I felt as I drove through the suburbs of Northern Virginia, in October of this year. I saw what Peggy Noonan lushly described in her Wall Street Journal column, excerpted by John Derbyshire in his full and fair assessment of the tottering American experiment, “We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism”:
To drive through the suburbs of Northern Virginia is to marvel still at the widespread wealth, the mansions and mini-mansions that did not exist a quarter-century ago and that now thicken the woods and hills. It used to be sleepy here; it used to be horse farms. … The other night, the big houses were strung with glittering white Christmas lights … heading toward Great Falls, we saw a house with a big glass-walled living room that faced the street, and below it a glass-walled entrance room, and each had its own brightly decorated tree. “Two Christmas trees,” murmured a companion, and it captured the air of prosperity and solid well-being of the area. It reminded me: Government is our most reliable current and future growth industry, and the near suburbs of the capital are where those who run it, work it, lobby it, feed off it and finagle it live. “You have to go farther out to see the foreclosure signs,” said a friend.
Appropriately, John Derbyshire will tell you not to be taken in this season (or any other time) by cheery “smiley-face happy talkers,” by “temptations to optimism” and by “wishful thinking” – for “[t]here is little joy to be had from contemplating the current U.S. political scene.”
Disgust Derb has aplenty.
What are the proxies of state power?
We have elevated the president to an “omnipotent pharaonic priest-king,” writes our author. “Government office, even the highest government office, was a service and a sacrifice, not a path to personal enrichment. Until the Former President Act of 1958 established a presidential pension (originally $25,000, now $191,300), it was the rule for presidents to leave office poorer than when they arrived.” While he didn’t quite do the “full kowtow,” Bush’s chief of staff, as John tells it, would begin his daily briefing by turning to “W” and saying, “Thank you for the privilege of serving.” Never once did Genghis Bush tell his toady to “cut it out.”
Now, “as in the great imperial-despotic systems of old, power generates wealth.” Obama will likely be as wealthy as the Clintons, “neither of whom have ever done anything that ordinary citizens would recognize as a job.”
Duly, Barack Obama’s Cabinet (only slightly worse in that respect than Bush’s) is comprised entirely of “lawyers, bureaucrats and race hustlers who regard creators of wealth as the enemy.” The president has likened his “one experience of private-sector work as making him feel ‘like a spy behind enemy lines.’”
When you trade republican virtue “for a passel of gassy rhetoric, imperial grandeur, and promises of managerial competence,” this is to be expected. “The practical, provincial farmers and merchants of the founding era have given way to a professional political class.” Parasites, not one of whom “has ever created a dime of wealth … subtracters all, not adders.”
Other surrogates for state power are the well over 66,498 pages of “federal tax law and regulations,” and a stagnant Congress, in which, due in part to Census-generated “gerrymandering of congressional districts,” incumbents often serve longer than “presidents-for-life of Third World sinkholes.”
Having “yielded too much ground to our enemies” in D.C., we are indeed doomed, declares Derb. Our government is so big as to have accustomed its serfs to the word “trillion” “in speaking of single government initiatives.” Clawing back state power by a percentage or two as a new Congress might manage cannot save us.
Government now is the road to riches. The private sector is its “milch cow.”
To listened to the hosannas of “welfarized spirituality” emanating from media guardians such as Shepard Smith of the Fox News channel and Chris Matthews of MSNBC at the passing of more spending bills this week (all for good causes, of course) – is to know that the Great “Gluminary” is right.
If it’s any consolation, “We Are Doomed” is eloquent in its advocacy – John Derbyshire’s is pellucid limpid prose at its best.