The most informative page— (A-5), in the Weekend Wall Street Journal today is an advertisement. It starts off with a well-known quote from Alexander Fraser a Scottish Professor at Edinburgh in 1887: “A democracy is always temporary in nature. It simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government (we are a Republic—jl). Democracies will continue to exist until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasure.”
As noted in the article the average age of the world’s greatest civilization is 200 years. The cadence of the demise is well recognized:
From bondage to spiritual faith. From spiritual faith to great courage. From great courage to liberty. From liberty to abundance. From abundance to selfishness. From selfishness to complacency. From complacency to apathy. From apathy to dependence. From dependency to bondage.
Six pages later in an editorial Christopher DeMuth points out that the representative legislature was a uniquely American-British invention of the 17th and 18th century and is also in demise at all levels of government from our Congress in Washington DC to our State Houses, and maybe even more importantly in local government at the county and municipal level. There is actually very little open and transparent deliberation and debate on the floors of our legislative bodies. Unfortunately, much policy making goes on behind closed doors between bureaucrats in government and lobbyists or their agents (lawyers). The argument that we are living in the age of technology, and it is impossible to understand complicated issues as they come before the legislatures or city councils is an argument for the “expert” and against the wisdom of the citizen represented by their government officials. We want to be represented by wise compassionate citizens who represent our values, and not people who believe they must tell us what is good for ourselves. The tension between the “common good” and individual liberty is best resolved by citizens—not technocrats, lobbyists representing special interests, idealogues married to a “common good conservatism or liberal progressivism”. Individual interest and selfish interest are very different animals. How did a “common good” public health model do during the pandemic? How are modern day city planners doing building the “communities of the future”.
Look to our large cities like Portland, Seattle, San Francisco or New York, and now Boise if you want an answer to that question. We need wise decision-makers making decisions for We the People, not government bureaucrats at the National Institute of Health, or State agencies like the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, or Central District Health. We need our City Fathers making decisions on behalf of citizens not developers working in symbiosis with City Planners and Planning and Zoning Commissions. Doctors working with patients, Citizens working with city government. Governance by the deep state is more complicated ethically than the most complicated technical question that any representative in government at any level must answer or try to understand.
I agree with the late William Buckley:
“I would rather be governed by the first 2,000 people in the telephone directory, than by the Harvard University faculty.”
Too many “technocrats”. Too few wise representatives. I think we are at the apathy to dependence stage. What do you think?