Monday, April 11, 2011

Mad Rant: Limitations of Politicians

The United States recently came to the brink of a government shut-down over budget cutting. How much was the proposal to cut, astronomical enough to cause a near shut-down of the government? All in all, a few thousandths of a percent of the overall budget. Yes, they sure are tightening those belts aren’t they! The USA is 14 trillion dollars in debt and they are going down to the wire of a government shutdown over a few billion. Well, I am sorry, but when the Democrats protested the idea of cutting funding for “cowboy poetry week” and National Public Radio I think it was pretty clear that they were not serious about cutting back on the flagrant over-spending. Likewise, the GOP talked a good game but they soon backed down from $70 billion to $60 billion to finally settling for about $30 billion in cuts. Again, we are $14 trillion in debt -$30 billion is peanuts compared to that. So why was it so difficult if the amount in question was so small? Two words my friends: special interests. In this case the bottom line was abortion.

Am I over-simplifying things? Perhaps, just a bit, but that is what the final sticking point was. The pro-abortion lobby has a sensitive part of the Democrat Party anatomy in their pocket and they were putting the squeeze on Obama and Harry Reed in a big way. It basically came down to a lobbyist contest and the Democrats’ abortion lobbyists were scarier than the Republicans’ Tea Party lobbyists. Every time something like this comes up, everyone can agree on how much they hate lobbyists and yet virtually every major interest group has them. You cannot cut funding for abortion or the feminist lobby will be on you. You cannot cut back on farm subsidies or the agriculture lobby will be on you. Want to cut funding on foreign aid? Sorry, there is the Israel lobby. How about cutting funds allocated for immigrants? They’re not even citizens after all. Nope, won’t wash either because the Catholic lobby will be on your case. Perhaps we could cut education, we keep spending more and more and yet test scores keep getting lower and lower -something isn’t working. Wrong again, the teachers unions will make you wish you were dead! How about the “corporate fat cats”, everybody hates them right? Wall street probably has more lobbyists than anyone outside the unions. And if you think you can get away with cutting back on government itself take a look at the chaos in Wisconsin. Lives will be endangered.

Turns out, everyone has a lobbyist but you. Yes, you, sitting right there in front of your google machine. This is when a monarchy (a functioning monarchy with some semblance of permanence) can come in very handy. Lobbyists have power because they have money and people behind them -usually more money than people (it‘s a very lucrative business to be in if you can get in) and that translates to votes and thus politicians take them very seriously. Not only can lobbyists deliver you all sorts of really nice perks if you are a cooperative politician, the special interests they represent can get you kicked out of office if you do not dance to their tune. A monarch, however, does not have to stand for election and does not have to curry favor with special interest groups to maintain their position. You cannot offer them any perks because, well to be blunt about it, they desire nothing because they already have everything.

A monarch, not being ‘one of the people’ can put everyone on an equal footing. Because they are beholden to no party or interest they can see all of their subjects equally with no partiality or favoritism. They have a vested interest in the success of their country as they will one day pass it on to their own child and, unlike the politicians who have sunk the western world into a bottomless pit of debt, they can take a broader view as they are “in office” for life. The reason the debt crisis exists is because politicians (and this is under ideal democratic circumstances) are temporary figures. They vote more money for their constituents and friends while they are in office to keep everyone happy and themselves popular, confident in the knowledge that they will be long gone when it finally comes time to pay the piper. That is also why cutting back on the spending is so difficult. Such unpopular measures pay off later whereas irresponsible spending pays off immediately.

The problem, of course, even in the remaining monarchies of the western world, is that we have allowed politicians to change the rules. No reigning monarch (outside of perhaps Liechtenstein or Monaco) is under any illusion that their position is permanent nor do any (again, outside of Liechtenstein and Monaco) have any real role in the actual government of their country. I would say it is no coincidence that Liechtenstein and Monaco are among the most well-off of all countries and have been the most unscathed by the current economic crisis in Europe and North America. For most, monarchs can no longer live up to their full potential because they know they are always only one parliamentary vote away from being shuffled off the national stage
 entirely. The German Kaiser Wilhelm II once said that, as monarchs are responsible to God for the nations entrusted to their care, it was best to carefully study public opinion before allowing it to influence their decisions. If that was true in the time of the Kaiser, it is certainly no longer true today. Monarchs must pay ever closer attention to the whims and fancies of public opinion because their positions are no longer regarded as sacred by the vast majority. This has robbed them of the ability to be of the utmost benefit to their nations and, as we are seeing now, it is the nations that suffer as a result. And that makes me a very sad … Mad Monarchist.


  1. Well the British Monarch still has power, doesn't she, such as to deny royal assent and even dismiss the government. The only thing stopping the Queen from using that power where it is necessary is the fact that she could be removed by parliament (AKA the government, since these days Parliament = the House of Commons = the government), or have her remaining powers stripped. But, I bet that if the Queen did, for example, deny royal assent to a bill, the government would be furious but they would not dare to abolish the monarchy. If they did, people would be outraged; there would be rioting in the streets. Their party may not win a single seat in the next election, and probably would not ever be elected again. The next government would come in with a promise to restore the monarchy, and they would make sure it's the first thing they did.

    I can't help but think that if the European monarchies adopted a constitutional mechanism like we have in Australia - that constitutional law (including the monarchy) can only been changed by a national referendum, not an Act of Parliament - we may see the monarchs acting as proper constitutional monarchs to which the elected government must always be accountable, rather than as rubber stamps. Parliament would lose that control over the Crown that it currently relishes. If Australia had not had that mechanism, Paul Keating would have eagerly foisted a republic onto us during the 1990s without bothering to ask for our agreement, perhaps before I was even born.

    Also they would also not be able to commit the kind of constitutional vandalism that Tony Blair did without the consent of their electors, when constititional law cannot be changed by mere parliamentary statute.

  2. I would like to think that's true but the public is easily manipulated and the masters of media spin (such as the BBC) are predominately republicans. If the Queen felt she had the security to deny royal assent I think she would have done so (as would past monarchs on various issues). Handing over power to the EU would seem to me to be the perfect example of when it was appropriate for the Queen to refuse royal assent if she had been able to.

    I agree though that Australia has a good model (though like any country it doesn't always work the way it is supposed to) because it makes radical changes difficult. However, even in the case of national referendums we have seen them ignored or trampled on in Europe more than once.

  3. Ah lobbyists. My brother (who I would describe as an old-fashioned Soviet-style communist - not one of those EU-style communists) and I agree on few political matters, but we both hate lobbyists and the overall corruption of the U.S. electoral system.
    I don't understand how they can all hate lobbyists so much, but when the Americans turn politicians, they end up indulging them as they have always been indulged.
    Which is why a monarch's personal fortune often comes in handy.

  4. Nicot, the American system is really corrupt yes, but Americans have a profound Moral Self Delusion about this. On the one hand, they will agree that Washington DC I corrupt, and Politicians are basically on the take from powerful special interest groups. They will hate them, despite the whole culture of Politics, and say it’s a despicable business.
    But then, when you offer an alternative, they balk.

    Upon suggesting any benefit to Monarchy, Magically Politicians transform from the Greedy, Ambitious Ideologues who sell their souls for Power, fame, and fortune, and become Paragons of Virtue and the only way we can have Freedom!

    While a discussion may include how we are loosing our Rights, our Freedoms Erode, and our Politicians are Greedy and corrupt, this all disappears if you suggest anything other than what we have now and what we have now becomes the best possible system ever devised.

    Monarchists like us believe in Tyranny and no Freedom, you see.

    It’s the sort of shallow thinking I fear has become too common even in Europe, though I do think a lot of Europeans have developed a Cynicism towards this as well.

  5. Don't worry. Dear Leader Obama has resolved the crisis with a fake coup.

    And Zarove, I expect you do a decent job of justifying monarchism as an alternative, but they still venerate an ideal, even if they hate the practical realisation.

    You need to demolish faith in the ideal. And that's hard, because it's held on to as dearly as their Christian faith.

    Point out that God is a king (seriously, who's His competition if there's a democracy?), that "res publica" means "The affairs of the public", and can easily apply to monarchy or democracy, that rights are natural, not determined by one's government form, and so on.

    In short, take out the legs of the theoretical, ideal democracy, and demonstrate the way that monarchy is actually preferable even as an ideal.

  6. Alas, Mr. Wells, that in the U.N. declaration of the rights of man, the freedom to choose a government is listed as a right. And this can and will be interpreted as pro-democracy, which the U.N. most certainly is.
    Of course, it could simply mean you're allowed to prefer the government of your choice, like we prefer monarchies or an 18th Century intellectual may prefer a democracy.

  7. Nicot, why should we concern ourselves with the UN's Charter?I've always wondered why texts like the Bible, Koran, and Vedas are seen as Religious, and thus not suitable for establishing a society, yet this document is. we can be mocked for slavish devotion to our sacred texts,only to have those who mock us slavishly devote themselves to the UN's Charter and Declarations, or the Humanist Manifesto, or the Rights of Man. (Which is the original inspiration for the UN's own document of Rights) What makes them "Not religious" and "Secular", and more important, what makes them rally a Binding Authority?

    Just something I muse about.

  8. I agree with you, and while I would prefer the U.N. and the E.U. as a mere forum for nations to voice themselves, a sort of diplomatic meeting room, I do not want them to pass laws (maybe non-binding resolutions approved by a large majority).
    However, most nations and people will refer to the U.N. document on the rights of man to counter us. We may not respect them as much (most of the other rights I have no issue with - I'd have to read it again), the vast public certainly holds this document in high regard.

  9. Ah but you must realise that “The Right to choose your Government” means “Democracy” to the United Nations. It doesn’t matter if the Majority vote for a Hereditary Monarchy to be erected or preserved as supreme Power, the UN will deem this a Violation unworthy of the Democratic System that is a Human Right.

    Besides, they will pressure anyone who doesn’t accept their goals and eventually a new Vote will be Held, and this will continue, with Sanctions and pressure placed on said Nation, till the “Right” Election results are Given.

    They aren’t interested in Real Democracy any more so than in real Freedom. Its about making sure their Vision becomes a Reality.

    Though I do have to wonder if their Vision is anything more than sweet sounding aphorisms and nothing else. It does seem it’s a shadow that changes with the mood of the assembly.


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