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 Finding the Flaws 

August 22, 2006 
[Originally published by the Universal Press Syndicate, March 25, 1997.]
indentThe former tennis player Ilie Nastase once had his wallet stolen, with all his credit cards in it. A friend was shocked to learn that he hadn’t reported the theft. Why not? “So far,” Mr. Nastase replied, “the thief is spending less than my wife.”

paragraph indent for Finding the FlawsThat’s what I call keeping your eye on the ball. Today's column is "Finding the Flaws" -- Read Joe's columns the day he writes them.And when I hear that the government of China was trying to influence the policy of the Clinton administration, I reserve judgment until I know what it was trying to persuade Mr. Clinton to do. For all I know, its influence might have been for the better.

paragraph indent for Finding 
the FlawsMy point isn’t completely facetious. Governments try to influence each other all the time. Our government hasn’t been shy about nudging Israeli, Russian, and other elections toward what it considered the right outcomes. Why should we affect Claude Rains indignation (“Shocked! Shocked!”) at learning that other governments do likewise?

paragraph indent for Finding 
the FlawsI don’t mean that we should approve of it, only that we shouldn’t pretend it’s a deviation from the laws of nature. It’s the most natural thing in the world, like air finding the puncture in a tire, or water finding the leak in a boat’s hull.

paragraph indent for Finding 
the FlawsGovernments are made to be bribed. The bigger they get, the more surely they will become corrupt. Power has a market value, and concentrating power increases the pressure, usually through the medium of money, on any leak. Nature finds the human flaws in any system.

paragraph indent for Finding 
the FlawsThe flaw in democracy is that people learn to vote themselves benefits at other people’s expense. And those benefits may become politically untouchable, as we know too well.

paragraph indent for Finding 
the FlawsThe worst twist in American democracy is that the voters have learned to pass the stupendous costs of the welfare state on to the next generation. It’s bad enough when some voters force other voters to support them. But the American voter has learned to force nonvoters to bear his expenses, by deferring payment to the next generation.

paragraph indent for Finding 
the FlawsThe next time you pass a playground, look at all those little nonvoters, oblivious of what awaits them, and ask yourself if it’s really honest to teach them that they will someday enjoy self-government. In what sense are they governing themselves, if, before they even enter the voting booth for the first time, they are already saddled with huge debts they had no part in incurring and will have no way of escaping? Is that what our ancestors meant by self-government — or is it more akin to what they called “involuntary servitude”?

[Breaker quote for Finding the Flaws: Every system has them.]paragraph indent for Finding the FlawsWasn’t the Constitution supposed to forbid such overweening power of one part of the community over another? No doubt. But as usual, nature has found the flaw in the system. The federal government has used a few clauses in the Constitution — notably the Commerce Clause and a few phrases in the Fourteenth Amendment — to virtually nullify the rest of the Constitution, turning a limited confederation of sovereign states into an all- powerful centralized government, always at the service of the greedy.

paragraph indent for Finding 
the FlawsAccording to the U.S. Supreme Court, the Constitution has “evolved” to mean just about the opposite of what everyone used to understand it to mean. In fact, modern jurisprudence has rendered most of the Constitution’s text superfluous, nugatory, or hopelessly confusing. Why should it list two dozen powers of Congress, when Congress exercises thousands of unlisted powers?

paragraph indent for Finding 
the FlawsWe might as well throw the old text out and adopt a simplified version that corresponds to reality: “The federal government shall be the 800-pound gorilla.” This would be easier for children to learn, and would spare them the need to understand archaic words like delegated, enumerated, and usurped. It would also eliminate the necessity for the judiciary to engage in the ceremonial pretense of reasoning its way to the preordained bottom line.

paragraph indent for Finding 
the FlawsAnd think how much easier life would be for our civics teachers! They could simply explain to the young, “The whole business of politics is to try to get the gorilla to take your banana so he’ll go sit on somebody else.” Only a few curious pupils would care to know how this Darwinian gorilla “evolved.”

Joseph Sobran

Copyright © 2006 by the Griffin Internet Syndicate,
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