It’s the Constitution, Stupid!
That’s the de facto cry as Republicans, conservatives, libertarians, Tea Partisans and others slam President Obama for ruling by executive order and bureaucratic regulation, bypassing the legislature and accruing unchecked power to the executive branch and its apparatchiks in the bureaucracy.
But this alarm falls on deaf ears, because the average American attended Democrat-union-run schools and all he knows of the Constitution consists of a jingle of the Preamble from Schoolhouse Rock.
The sum total of all living Americans who have both read, and understood the purport of the Constitution, could meet today in the room where Freedom’s Charter was drafted and hold a Pilates class without rubbing elbows or bumping exercise balls.
In any case, in this postmodern era, the argument from principles (argumentum super capita sua) has been supplanted by the argument from emotion (ifita fils güd du itum). So, my readers in ye olde tricorne hattef, might want to attempt a different tactic.
Listen, we could get all lathered (rinse & repeat) about the yawning ignorance of our founding documents, lamenting that the Constitution lies dormant among the dust-bunnies of history under the futon, or we could face reality and figure out a way to communicate that connects with who people are, what they feel, and even what they think, when the rare occasion arises.
The thought struck me this morning while reading William Easterly’s “The Tyranny of the Experts.”
Having experts in charge of solving society’s problems turns things over to agents who face neither a market test nor a democratic test. If they get the knowledge (including localized feedback) wrong, they suffer neither economic nor political penalties. If their solutions should happen to work, they get neither economic nor political rewards. So there is nothing to spur them on to scaling up successes any more than there is anything to motivate them to kill off failures.
Set aside the Constitution for a moment. (Just pretend you’re Ruth Bader Ginsburg.) This is why Obama’s rule by decree and lawmaking by bureaucracy is so bad for America. There’s no carrot and no stick, and no finish line for the lethargic donkey. That may sound like a mechanistic argument, but it’s a step in the right direction, and more effective than the argument from principles, the dearth of which is abundant.
However, we’re not there yet.
Keep in mind that we live among a people who think kids should not keep score in soccer — worse, that kids should play soccer, rather than actual football.
So, the idea that folks require some kind of tally to remain motivated, may escape them, like a soccer ball soaring past a pre-adolescent texting goalie and registering a null in the record books.
In effect, the mechanistic argument says, “Government bureaucrats can’t make it work because they don’t care. And they don’t care because there’s nothing in it for them.”
It’s like asking someone to take a selfie, without letting them post it to Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter.
Wait…now, I think we’re getting somewhere.