Random thought of the day

I was listening to the audible version of A History of the English-Speaking Peoples: The Birth of Britain today and it was implied that the power of church of early Britain was restricted by enforcing vows of poverty. That might be a misunderstanding of mine because I was driving in heavy traffic at the time and wasn’t giving the book my full attention. But anyway, that suggested something to me.

I wonder if requirements of poverty and perhaps chastity for politicians would improve the character of those who seek public office. They currently take an oath of office to uphold the U.S. constitution. But that is ignored by 99+% of them. In part because what the constitution “really means” is subject to interpretation and opinion. It can’t really be measured with numbers all that easily. Income can be measured much less subjectively. The indirect bribes of “stock tips”, “loans”, and “donations to the foundation” would be more easily detected by the lifestyle they live if they were required to live a life of poverty after gaining public office.

Of course the downside would be that very capable people would be self deselected from the potential candidates. But if one is to claim that politicians are self serving and government is too large and powerful. Such a requirement would change the character of the politicians in many that is in the generally correct direction.

7 thoughts on “Random thought of the day

  1. power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.

    you want to be careful w/ virtue. if a person thinks that he is in fact virtuous, and therefore moral, sometimes he is “empowered” by his nobility to do great harm.

    always beware of the fellow who cleaned toilets with his toothbrush, and lived in absolute poverty. he sometimes is not driven by humility, but, of an arrogance stemming from his suffering. don’t think that ghandi was above a little conniving, from time to time.

    me, i like small towns. farmers, craftsmen, hunters & fishers, and some layabouts. they all argue over coffee. that, my friends is a civil society.

    you won’t find any skyscraper towers overlooking central park from the 90th floor. nor, any people aiming to work their way up from the basement to the penthouse.

  2. One of the things we learn by looking at the results of communism is that if you remove the profit motive, then the ‘means’ of power start to attract those who exploit others just for the fun of it.

    When it comes to controlling people, sex and money are some of the more innocuous ‘ends.’

  3. I’m sticking with “a maximum of 5 terms or portions thereof in elected office in the United States, no more then two of which may be in the same office.” As for Congress, how about a fixed office budget for each electee and living in a dormitory? Give each rep and senator a (minimal) fixed amount to operate on for their entire term, they get to spend it however they like: staff, furniture, postage stamps, telephone, or fancy dinners, fast cars and monthly trips to the Bahamas. Any increases in the amount budgeted must be approved by the citizenry at a general election. Each also gets a 3 bedroom apartment in an adjacent building within walking distance of the Capitol rent free. The apartments won’t get used much because we’ll also limit Congressional sessions to no more than 60 days per year, to schedule however they choose.

    Afraid the unelected bureaucracy will take over? (They already have, but….) Term limits for government employment – excepting the active duty military, no one may receive direct or indirect compensation (think contract employee or employee of a contractor) from a government in the United States for not greater than 15 years, any and all benefits, to include retirement, will be entirely employee-funded.

  4. Seems like the smartest most capable people are in general those that do the most damage because they can work the system the best. Maybe if we had a pile even dumber than the current lot, the express train to hell would at least slow down…

  5. There is no set of rules or laws that will make the unprincipled, the greedy and the power-hungry into good people. It’s almost as if you’re tired of having your house broken into and robbed, so your proposing rules to govern the specific behavior of robbers.

    In your scenario the graft would merely be shifted deeper into the shadows. Offshore accounts, nod nod wink wink book deals, “charity” foundations, sweetheart real estate deals, etc. all exist right now as ways of making pay-offs look innocuous to the inattentive. The billionaire Congressman living in a humble monastery, wearing a simple robe and eating porridge would become the next image of corrupt tyrant, is all. His sex slave dungeon made of gold, funded via his cozy relationships with America’s enemies would be slightly harder to find is all.

    No, Young Grasshopper; cultural change starts at the individual level, then the family, for a family is no good without a good father who is centered around good principles and, laws or no laws, a community is no good without good families. Cultural change works it’s way into the halls of politics much later. Any rules you can in your cleverness make, will serve only the culture that already exists or in the process of forming.

    Rules are the expressions of wishes. They can be useful but only as a reinforcement for those who would do the right thing.

    It has been said that laws are for criminals, that good people don’t need them, and without good people no law can work for the good. In other words; laws, like weapons, serve the purposes of those who wield them, for good or for evil.

    Posit; we indulge in frustration with the political class as a means of distracting our attention away from our own faults – faults which the political class merely reflects.

    If the political class is a reflection of our faults, we are thus in charge. We have been all along. We don’t want to acknowledge that discomforting fact, so we use anger, frustration et al like a drug to mask the truth. We prefer to suffer the injuries and humiliations from the political class than to face the responsibilities for our own faults, and the political class is only too happy to oblige. It’s an almost exact reflection of our often codependent, manipulative, “woe is me, you owe me” home lives. We’re addicts, and so the politicians of poor character, from city government and local courts to the whitehouse, Congress and the Supreme Court, are more than willing to take advantage of our weakened state.

    So as drunk men, we want to put more rules on the people running the liquor stores? “How dare they profit from our weakness! Damn them!” Is that it? Discuss.

  6. As a child of Missionary parents who effectively took a vow of poverty instead of seeking more gainful or lucrative employment – it does seem like a good way to curtail the instinct towards corruption.
    Sometimes it pisses me off that my dad basically denied me and my siblings certain material things, in that we never had the kinds of toys and frivolity and many of the experiences my classmates enjoyed, like cars and dirtbikes and vacations in fancy places. However the Missionary Life had other benefits and some enforced behaviors, such as we were Ambassadors and knew our behavior reflected back on America. And living overseas we traveled, though not in any sort of luxury – but by the time I was seventeen I had been around the world three times – which had it’s own set of problems in terms of relationships.
    But the vow of poverty (and chastity, and conspicuous moral behavior) did indeed influence our family greatly – and finally actually made me difficult to employ, strictly on a rewards-basis. So I think there is something to that, although the history of the Hawaiian Missionary-Children experience would appear to go against it…

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