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Friday, January 30, 2009

Birth of Politics/Government

For background to this - see an earlier post - "Birth of Fear" from last August Forgive this - it rambles - Most of the villages, if you could call the gatherings of huts, tents, and such a village, in Og's time had a Chief that ran things. The villages had many ways of determining who would have that important role. Selecting the oldest, considered to be the wisest, was one way. Giving the position to the smartest, considered to be the most likely to find solutions to problems, was a similar tact. Later, as society developed, there was the son (typically the eldest) of the prior chief, considered sometimes divinely selected. Considering the original family member probably became leader based on one of these other ways at some point in the past, I always wondered how many folks questioned this idea of royalty - and family right to rule (but I digress). Another way of becoming chief, especially in early civilization was by might. If you could kick the butt of all others in the group you were chief. We are somewhere in that time. None of Og's group, nor Og, had become chief. (again, this may make more sense if you read the earlier post - Og had used the power of fear to usurp power from the chief. The chief still ran things, Og and his minions just lived in the circle of approval from the chief based on handling the people with fear. Og and his boys knew they could not win a battle with the chief. They were not fighters, nor real thinkers. Og's gathering had become the group that is always on the edges of power, living off the attachment to it - the posse, if you will of the chief/leader. This was/is a great place to be, because you have most of the benefits of the powerful, without the real responsibility (hey, I just work here!). Chiefs/leaders are blamed for the bad, and many can take credit for the good, if they are close enough to make a case. These people we now call bureaucrats and/or politicians. As this group became more entrenched and enamoured of their power and position, the more possessive of their position they became. As the time came for the selection of the new chief, they had a vested interest in getting a person in place that they could still draw power and prestige from. They began to lobby the population and or group(s) that would actually select the chief. If might was still the major determining factor, they would attach themselves early on to the biggest brute in the tribe, and insure he was ready for the challenge when it presented itself. Even if the big guy had no interest in the position, they would prime them and convince them it was something they needed to do. In fact, this was the perfect leader for them because they could be manipulated easier. Soon Og's group, or in reality - by now Og's descendants' group, would find they had challengers to their position. Others, interested in power and prestige, would find themselves a candidate and try to get them into power. They found that by offering promises of special treatment or rules to certain people or groups of people they could "buy" their support. This escalated into the two (or three, or more) groups of bureaucrats and politicians to offering more and more to the people that made the decisions. It became commonplace for a candidate for chief to offer special favors to a group prior to the choice or offers of special considerations if and when the candidate became chief. So, campaign rhetoric began. One candidate would offer something to the people and the other candidate would be force to offer something to another equal sized group, or to trump the first groups offer to the original group.

This caused more and more problems. Leadership positions, even when decided by "Divine right", as in a hereditary monarchy, required the support of the people governed. (or at least the leaders of the army or people that could raise an army) This was done by favors or rulings that favored those people. The problem with anyone who has a loyalty that can be bought, is they can be re-bought if you will by a higher bidder. A LOT of kings and queens in times gone by were taken down by the very people that had insured their position in the beginning.

Og and Og's descendants were not fools. They knew that to rule was to risk loss of everything if those you ruled did not support you. They also knew that to gather power from those who rule, while keeping an eye out for the next power move, was the key to real power and long term advancement. These bureaucrats became an important part of every government from the earliest times of man until now. Supporting these bureaucrats became a function of government that they themselves controlled and used to their advantage.

In one of my first posts (see -, I wrote a bit about the fall of the Roman Empire. The fall was caused by a LOT of different factors. However, one of the largest of those was the escalation of favors offered by the candidates for government office. They began offering more and more to "buy" the votes of the voting citizens of Rome until it was unsustainable. Making government the basis of support for as many people as possible is the way to insure a bureaucrat's and/or politician's survival. The more people you have looking for government for their needs, the better. Except for one thing - the money to support those looking to government has to come from someone. As I hope you have learned - there is NO GOVERNMENT MONEY! Even in a dictatorial setting, the money is produced by the working population. Government can only get money by taking it from the governed. We are in a similar situation today as the Romans were towards the end of their empire. We are approaching 50% of the population of our country that pays no income taxes. We have a large percentage of those that do not pay income taxes actually getting a tax "credit" from the government just for being alive. This is a dangerous area. I have railed against the escalation of the government debt - OUR debt in earlier posts. I have gone on and on with my concerns of a government that seems determined to head towards socialism and centralized control of production. That will not work! The U.S. has become the greatest economy and economic growth engine on earth due to the rewards that hard work and investment can reap. We have also benefited from the fact that weak, undercapitalized, and bad ideas have been allowed to fail. We cannot bail out of the mistakes of the banks, investors, mortgage holders and lenders, and others without helping to drag down all of those that were prudent and responsible. That is not right. Sorry for the rant, sorry for the length. I am not sure what date this will show when it posts, but I started this back in January. I have returned to it on many occasions and thought today was when I needed to finish it. I got off track a bit with my Og saga, but I hope you gleaned something from it; if only my passion for helping to keep this country alive.