Sunday, May 22, 2005

Isn't It Romantic?

The way people are blind to the shortcomings of government, says Daniel Klein in; The People's Romance; Why People Love Government (as Much as They Do)

Why are government officials and enthusiasts often hostile to leading corporations like Microsoft, McDonald’s, Wal-Mart, and Martha Stewart? Why are they often hostile to other bases for independent private cultural power such as private builders, private schools, and talk radio? Part of the answer may be that they are jealous in guarding their role as medium and focal point in [The People's Romance]. Why are they hostile to placeless “suburban sprawl,” private communities, private shopping malls, the private automobile (especially big ones), gun ownership and toting, and home schooling? Because these practices are means of
withdrawing from [The People's Romance] and creating an autonomous circle of authority, power, and experience.

Which is why all's fair in love and war:

TPR helps to explain why Americans who lived through World War II generally remember it as a good time, even a time of improving material conditions, even though, as Robert Higgs (1992) shows, it was a time of significantly declining material conditions.

TPR captures what William James sought in the “moral equivalent of war,” --namely “a conscription of the whole youthful population to form for a certain number of years a part of the army enlisted” to dig coal, make tunnels, wash clothes, catch fish. “[We should be] conscious of our work as an obligatory service to the state. We should be owned, as soldiers are by the army, and our pride would rise accordingly” ....

Love may be blind, but Klein concludes that technology, in the form of the internet, cable television, talk radio is making more and more people aware that the affair is only skin deep.

He also asks a question of some of our favorite people:

...why do Paul Krugman, Bradford DeLong, ...and others in their ideological quarters, including a great many who are not as prominent but just as settled in their opinions, almost never emphatically favor libertarian reform on any of the one thousand issues where such reform would plainly benefit society, especially the least well off?

A fine romance, my friend this is.

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