Thanks for the comments, Elmer & Ed. They are good and interesting. Let me defend my reluctance to closely study / follow / participate in politics.
Each of us has only so much time. I’ve decided to spend it on wealth creation, entrepreneurship, and on enjoying life. I do not blog about my nascent entrepreneurship, but it’s been taking much of my time and energy.
Voting with dollars is stronger than voting with ballots. When I buy things I like, they become more available to others as well. The evidence of this impact is overwhelming. For example, I vote for L’viv’s best coffee shops almost daily, and customer service seems to be improving in leaps and bounds. It’s immeasurably better from when I first visited L’viv with my mother in 2008.
Politics is a violent game for thieves and scoundrels. Most Ukrainians are wrong in their belief that rampant corruption and abuse is a distinctly Ukrainian characteristic. Western politicians simply have better masks. They are better con-artists, while Ukrainian politicians are better thugs.
How many times should we witness politicians breaking their promises before giving up? At what point should we acknowledge that we can’t name a single government program anywhere in the world that hasn’t been a failure?
In the words of Thoreau, “government never furthered any enterprise but by the alacrity with which it got out of its way.” Though Thoreau himself may not have realized it, his statement encompasses even the enterprises of security, justice and transportation.
There are people who view the political process even more urgently than you, Ed. They consider it every citizen’s obligation to identify the correct political policy and devote themselves to its advocacy.
I used to think along these lines, but once the illusion of politicians’ legitimacy evaporates, once one recognizes them for the brutal, cowardly, narcissistic criminals they are, this messianic belief in the political process quickly becomes ridiculous.
It becomes a claim that one’s most lofty, noble goal is effective begging. The grandest aspiration for a human life is begging effectively enough, and convincing a sufficient number of fellow tax-slaves to beg effectively enough, that our masters decide to steal less of our money, and smother less of our liberty.
Keep the fucking money, I say. If I have to forfeit ten, twenty, thirty, forty percent of my hard-earned wealth to keep some thug from throwing me in a cage, then that’s what I’ll do — but I won’t legitimize it by begging them to return a portion of what they’ve stolen. That is beneath my dignity. Keep the fucking money. I will give to Cesar what I must, and that is all.
I prefer to vote with my feet — to escape from one tax farm to a more lenient tax farm. (Lately my income is low enough that there’s almost no difference, but I’m preparing for what I expect to be a successful future.) Voting with one’s feet, like voting with one’s money, is stronger than voting with ballots. Tax farmers hate losing their cattle, especially their most productive cattle, and will make concessions — either that, or they’ll erect barbed-wire fences. Escape while you can.
Consider too what you are asking of the common tax slave: to put reason ahead of regular checks from the government, to think (most men would rather die), to emerge from an indoctrination that’s coddled them since their first days of kindergarten when, scarcely capable of reading or the simplest arithmetic, they put their little hands over their little hearts and pledged allegiance to the flag of the United States of America. I’m 36 years old and I still don’t understand what that means. You’re asking them to stand instead of crawl, and that is way, way, way outside of both, their comfort zone and their abilities.
I don’t resent them for it anymore than I resent cows for not being better dancers, or cats for failing to be classical pianists. People are simply incapable of your expectation, and just as we erect fences to keep vermin out of our gardens, we should look to erect fences to keep the votes of the masses off our bodies and out of our wallets.
Democracy is the armed horde. As Hyppolite Taine foresaw in the dusk of the 19th century, as democracy gathered its strength for a final conquest of European monarchy (Americans marched into WWI beneath the banner of “making the world safe for democracy.”): “One puts in the hands of each adult a ballot, but on the back of each a soldier a knapsack: with what promises of massacre and bankruptcy for the Twentieth Century.”
Or John Adams: “. . . democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself.”
If you’re looking for salvation, unfortunately you must look for what may come after the collapse. Salvation, in my opinion, hinges on the ability of small groups of men to isolate themselves from the armed horde, on their ability to defend a system of property rights with guns as well as ideology.
Until such a time, my plan is to enjoy life, create wealth, brace for collapse, and promote an understanding of property rights, so, God-willing, such a group of men may emerge.