26 Dec '15     home | previous

Government Intentionality

Gallup reports that since 2005, Africans and Asians it has polled view world leadership provided by the US government as having declined. Regarding US government initiatives and opinions of US citizens, Gallup finds 65% of Republicans and 32 percent of Democrats believe their government too aggressive, in other words a threat. There is the complaint that the federal government is too big and too powerful, that there are too many laws, that government is too intrusive and too nosey. Some complain that government wants to deprive people of their right to have guns. And everybody complains about taxes.

Coinciding with Gallup's findings is a George Will column in today's Washington Post. He complains of "government enthusiasts" and presidential campaigns inflating expectations that "power wielded from government's pinnacle will invigorate the nation." He complains of people assuming "that social complexity requires an intentional design imposed from on high by wise designers, a.k.a. them." George Will refers his readers to Matt Ridley's book The Evolution of Everything and says.

Matt Ridley refutes the secular creationists' fallacious idea that because social complexity is the result of human actions, it must, or should, be the result of human design. In fact, Ridley says, "Far more than we like to admit, the world is to a remarkable extent a self-organizing, self-changing place."

A comment that follows Will's article:

You can always count on Will to find some obscure academic in support of his enduring belief that the strong should have license to dominate and exploit the weak.

Perhaps with unemployment insurance or the works programs during the depression, another asks,

So what happens when the marketplace doesn't hire enough people?

About the Matt Ridley that George Will extols, someone at Amazon writes:

Western societies are all about Security and Control and predictability... about gaining control over the unknowns.

Another writes:

To Mr. Ridley's way of seeing things, virtually nothing of real consequence happens as a result of will, effort or intention – from the creation of the universe to the Battle of the Bulge.

And like all forms of maximalist argument, it comes with no shortage of absurdity. The world (and all that's in it) is as it is because this is the best evolution can do with what it's got to work with. The result is a materialist variant of the thesis that Voltaire so brilliantly ridiculed in Candide. "All things are as they must be, we live in the best of all possible worlds," says Dr. Pangloss.

With optimism, someone writes:

The Republican party is falling apart of its own weightlessness. Enter Mr. Will, to show us just how vacuous and mindless the leadership remains, as the GOP dissolves.

George Will looks sadder than usual these days. I don't know if his colleague at Fox, Bill O'Reilly, having scolded him and called him a hack to his face, on the air, has anything to do with it. George Will may instead be troubled by his concern for the Republican Party. In a column two days ago he wrote,

... a Trump nomination would not just mean another Democratic presidency. It would also mean the loss of what Taft and then Goldwater made possible — a conservative party as a constant presence in U.S. politics.

He may also be unhappy about another tangle. His view that the best course is just to let things happen puts him with Republicans who don't want the US to be the world's policeman – such as Rand Paul. The party seems to be more with its hawkish members, who complain about President Obama not having been aggressive enough in foreign policy.

Division threatens the Republican Party's hopes for 2016. It appears that if Trump wins the nomination, many who would have voted for the Republican candidate will not. If Trump is denied the nomination, many who would have voted for Trump may be angry enough to stay away from the polls.

Copyright © 2016 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.