diversity is not, like differences, a fact of life.
It is a value judgment, NOT a fact of life.
This is one of your better pieces of late, and I find myself in agreement with most if not all the points you make.
The only departure I have from it, is this sense you continue to impart that there is some mandate to fix the human condition by means of some better-done approach to policy. This notion is where I find so many of the difficulties having their origins: trying to organize the human community by means of well-done policy is its own calamity. The very inevitability of the failures to bring humanity into compliance with any abstract notion of how it ought best to behave, is the source of the momentum which ultimately results in chaos.
I contend that it is the chaos, itself, that is at its core the true intent behind ALL social policy. Social policy is impossible to implement per its designs, people ALWAYS adapt themselves to it in the most opportunistic and self-advantaging ways they can manage, it ALWAYS creates unintended consequences and unpredicted new dilemmas, and more than anything else simply enables and excuses government taking it upon itself to be more meddlesome rather than less.
The human currency in all social policy, is specific opportunity to be exploited by specific individuals and organizations. Because policy must be translated into fiscal terms, it creates systems of grants and budget allocations and designated employment roles, only theoretically relative to any larger goal held out as its intended outcome.
As an example, the arena of social policy I have come to be best-informed about, is the enormous growth-industry surrounding the question of “violence against women.” In its origins, the sales pitch is a moralistic one: who could possibly stand opposed to anything promising to “eradicate” violence being done to women? Who would dare stick their head up even to say “this isn’t working”, without risking the inevitable backlash from the well-trained gallery of so-called public opinion which comes back at the critic as “how dare you not want it to work? You’re committing ‘war on women’ even to suggest that anything about these programs and policies might not be the best way to go about it….”
And so, as in the case of the US Violence Against Women Act, it comes up for re-authorization every five years or so, irrespective of what party holds the White House or majorities in Congress, and time after time gets voted back into legitimacy for another five years, complete with more billions to be spent, by whatever means, on something that….
VAWA creates chaos, just as it was intended to. It has no capacity to “eradicate” anything. The thousands of individuals and non-profit organizations who specifically benefit from its allocations, have every perverse incentive to sustain conditions enabling women being victims of violence, and no reason whatsoever to realistically address them. Careers and livelihoods and mortgages and sending their kids to college are at stake, and are the real intent behind getting up in the morning to go back to the office and go through the motions of protecting women from violence.
If women ever stopped being at risk, the results would be catastrophic to the grant recipients and their next-tier beneficiaries as contractors and consultants, who have long since anchored their livelihoods and lifestyles on the permanence of a pretense of social policy, whose very ineffectiveness is its primary means of staying in business.
This is how social policy truly works: that it isn’t meant to be effective.
It is meant to be a catastrophic failure, to make its targeted human woes continue, or get worse, because otherwise too many people would have to go out and find a new way to butter their bread if their public-funded monopoly on human instability were ever dismantled.
I find that so many of these conversations (and that’s all they are) about this thing or that thing in need of fixing to improve the human condition, ultimately lead back to the exact same proposal:
Allocate some (public) money, park somebody in an office, and satisfy our consciences that whatever human dilemma is now being addressed.
And it never is.
By and large I found the Reagan presidency to be an insufferable counterfeit and in the long term a legacy of sustained disaster. I think he may actually have been one of the worst and most harmful presidents in our history….
He did have some good one-liners.
Like all of them, the absolute disconnect between what a politician says they represent in ideological terms, and what they actually do or don’t do with their designated powers once in office, is the continuing fraud in all politics.
Reagan said that government is not the solution, but the problem.
Of course he didn’t mean it, and of course he empowered his regime to exercise as much arbitrary authority in service of hidden agendas as any head of state does, but I did like the basic idea behind the one-liner.
I wish he had meant it.
I can envision a condition of human life where government authority is all but nonexistent, where keeping law enforcement in good working order and maintaining a reasonable degree of regulation and standardization over the mechanics of civilized infrastructure is all it is asked to do, and all it dares attempt to do. I believe that there IS NO duty on the part of any government, to “society.” Society’s problems, are society’s business.
It is in the very nature of government to create and sustain a separate professional class of bureaucrats and politicians. The benefits of those career pathways, whatever they may be, are the prime motive for entering into civil service or electoral politics on the part of individuals. It is beyond naive to think that ANYONE in government really believes in ANY of the rhetorical nonsense and wishful thinking used to market policy proposals into actual allocated budgets. It is the end result of the money to spend, alone, that keeps any public sector of any society in place and able to benefit from their career choices. No one in the public sector really feels obligated to “society”, but only to their own goals and intentions within their own personal spheres. Government, is just a job. People get paid, to be in government. That is precisely all it means to them.
Tasking government with the impossibly delusional mission of improving the human condition, ALWAYS FAILS.
The whole design of liberal governance, is that it is supposed to fail.
The resulting chaos and division, is what keeps it in power.
When I see people say, “oh, but I’m a classical liberal….” I just laugh at how silly that sounds. You can call yourself whatever sort of liberal you want to, but in the end what liberalism itself is about, is maintaining a large-scale public sector at public expense to service the pretense that government governs in order to improve the human condition.
Only it can’t do that. People improve the human condition, or they don’t, and government always, always, always just gets in the way and complicates the attempt or even makes it impossible. Government has no real motive to improve the human condition. Its only motive is to keep its budgets incoming and thus its offices open, and the human condition be damned.
Call me an anarchist if you must, but to have government do anything at all but the most basic and essential tasks and never be involved in social policy at all, is simply a self-sustaining racket benefitting only those who govern, and never benefitting the governed who consent to it.
I say the more government we have acting on the more social policies which never achieve their aims, the closer we are to anarchy anyway. Too much government enables anarchy, rather than preventing it. Government, in its way, is the ultimate anarchy. It creates conditions of “every man for himself” even more that no government at all does.
Whatever it is government does all day, addressing the human condition by means of social policy has never, ever been among its measurable achievements. I happen to believe that individuals, families and communities can see to their own human conditions far more effectively, when government is the minor player and subservient service-provider it ought to be.