An Appetizer on Accountability

As a send off for the weekend I thought I’d give you something to think about other than where you’re going to be taxiing your youth, avoiding those weeds, ingesting beverages or clearing ground for that chicken coop you might one day be legally allowed to put in your backyard in Bremerton.

It’s not that I want you to think about me, because Heaven knows you’re not on my mind all that much when the little guy asks me three times where the puzzle piece goes, never satisfied with my answer. But allow the Kitsap Caucus to offer some appetizers on accountability.

What first got me thinking about this was a news piece I read from the San Francisco Chronicle, detailing how the budget deficit is growing nearer to crisis proportions. The following, for me, were the money paragraphs:

Polls show rising public alarm – and public refusal of specific spending cuts or tax increases required to change course. A Field Poll last month showed most Californians do not want to cut the largest parts of the state budget, such as education or transportation.

The polling firm Democracy Corps recently warned Democrats that the deficit now tops unemployment as a voter concern. But it also found voters “unenthusiastic” about the options to close the deficit. Voters overwhelmingly prefer spending cuts to tax hikes but reject cutting specific programs.

P.J. O’Rourke, in the book I just finished reading, “Parliament of Whores,” writes about 200 pages to explain the reality that appears in the final sentence of these next two paragraphs, which comes after he writes about his experience in a very local town hall meeting in which actual decisions were being made.

Citizens may have hardcore beliefs in the right to do whatever they want on their property or smoke whatever they want in their home, until it touches them. That inner granite that was once bedrock to principled living starts to crack, and pretty soon they’re using legal means to stop others from doing something that will introduce a change in their lives that they don’t like, or will let them change others’ lives in a way that profits them. Principles get tossed pretty quickly when convenient, or possible.

“Authority has always attracted the lowest elements in the human race. All through history mankind has been bullied by scum. Those who lord it over their fellows and toss commands in every direction and would boss the grass is in the meadow about which way to bend in the wind are the most depraved kind of prostitutes. They will submit to any indignity, perform any vile act, do anything to achieve power. The worst off-sloughings of the planet are the ingredients of sovereignty. Every government is a parliament of whores.

The trouble is, in a democracy the whores are us.”

His first line is about authority attracting scum, but there is a quote about absolute power that suggests that authority doesn’t just attract scum, it creates it. We can point accusing fingers at the electeds all we want, but often they’re doing what they know we want, not what we say we want. Sure, they sometimes try to pull fast ones they hope you won’t notice, but for the most part they want your approval.

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