"There are 10^11 stars in the galaxy. That used to be a huge number. But it's only a hundred billion. It's less than the national deficit! We used to call them astronomical numbers. Now we should call them economical numbers." ~ Richard Feynman
The Gods Make Crazy
For a long time past, those with some idea which way is up have been pointing out correctly that the electoral process is a farce, and we'll revisit some of the reasons below; but this year there has come a fresh one to confirm it, in the shape of Osama Bin Ladin. To the shock and horror of every talking head and pompous Pol, this wily A-rab released a tape which, they fumed, sought to "influence the US Election."
Oh, No! T-viewers were allowed to see only bits of what was translated from his speech, but I gather he wanted us to know that our safety was in our own hands; that if we want to live in peace with the Muslim world, we must stop electing governments that diss Muslims and support Israel. Sounds good to me; I said as much within a week of 9/11, and my words are still there.
Instant analysts tried to figure whether this means he wanted Americans to vote for Bush or for Kerry, and (surprise!) they failed. On the one hand, the tape's release favors Kerry, by reminding voters that Bush still hasn't found OBL and put him away, but on the other hand, it favors Bush by reminding them that trivial matters like stolen ammunition and job losses and health care don't matter much if the "war on terror" isn't won. Who knows; the pollsters' final word anyway seems to be that it will all be a dead heat. More on that below.
What struck me the most was that the key and central word "Israel" was mentioned only once, as if it had been read by Jim Carey in "Liar, Liar," or as if it had been forced through the announcers' lips as one of their industry's "seven dirty words" that ought never be spoken. Perhaps I can do the world a service by countering their reluctance here: 9/11 AND ALL ITS AFTERMATH TOOK PLACE PRIMARILY BECAUSE FOR 60 YEARS ALL US GOVERNMENTS HAVE FAVORED THE STATE OF ISRAEL. Go ahead, shout that from the rooftops!
So now, the filters through whom we have to perceive what's going on have told us that this enemy is "interfering," but are suppressing an understanding of exactly how. Is that crazy, or what? This latest absurdity is, however, no more than icing on the cake of my theme. The entire electoral process in irrational from soup to nuts. Let's review a few of the asylum's foundations.
1. The system falsely presumes that voters can delegate powers they do not have. You and I cannot morally (or even legally) confiscate property from our neighbor, yet the November 2nd shell game supposes that the government we elect, can. Crazy.
2. It falsely presumes that even if we did, the resulting Collective could make decisions that would honor all those scores of millions of expressed wishes. Try making one for a family of just four, if you're snared in that delusion! The notion is absolutely crazy.
3. It falsely presumes that government, once elected, can add something desirable to the mix of society instead of wasting and diverting its resources. However could it, possibly?! Crazy.
4. It falsely presumes that "government" even exists, in reality. Try to track it down, to give me its address and phone number. Tricky, yes? What precisely is it? The best definition I've come across is Anthony Alexander's: it isn't so much something, as the absence of something, namely the market. Government is that mysterious emanation that prevents a free market functioning smoothly. Crazy.
5. It falsely presumes that it is feasible in practice to count scores of millions of votes to any degree of accuracy that may be required. This is clearly nonsense; a computer can accurately count its on/off bits to perfection, but at several stages in any actual voting procedure, human beings take part, and humans are fallible--and occasionally malevolent. Yet the validity of the entire system rests on the assumption of human infallibility. Crazy! And now
(6) - it falsely assumes that elections make a difference. In 2004 more than ever, that falsehood is being exposed before our very eyes. Months of massive hoopla and hundreds of millions of dollars of wasted are (according to the pollsters) about to produce, what?--a dead heat, as in 2000! Yet if we think about it, that result is exactly what we might expect, now that fighting elections has been reduced to a science with banks of computers instantly analysing interminable poll numbers, and candidates fine-tuning their appeal to T-viewers accordingly later the same day. All are necessarily bidding for the Undecided Middle above all, and as knowledge about the whims of that Middle are revealed, each refines his bidding for its favors; so what else might we expect but a dead heat? The old days of imperfect information and the uncertainties it brought are well-nigh over. The mechanical perfection of the electoral process has already produced a total farce once, and this year seems poised to produce one again. If not now, then next time; a dead heat to be resolved by the courts will become the norm; in all future elections, our rulers will be picked not by around 85 million voters but by nine elderly men and women. Crazy, crazy, crazy.
All this is terrible news for the peddlers of democratic government, who have pretended for lo! these many decades that the process has some substance, dignity and value in the real world; but curiously, it's not all bad for the few of us who appreciate Points 1 through 5 above, and long for the abolition of the entire mess. The more obvious it becomes to the voting public that the whole thing is a farce, the fewer of them will continue to support it by voting and the sooner it will be tossed into history's ashcan. And then at long last, the market will be free to work its wonders, producing freedom and wealth we have hardly dreamed about. The Gods, if they existed, may well have planned to destroy us mortals by first making us crazy; but happily, they are as mythical as the government whose dissolution we seek. If we are patient a little longer in pointing out the increasingly obvious stupidity of the status quo, the madness may morph into sanity.