10A063 Vox Pop by Jim Davies, 11/4/2010

John Boehner, known to his adversaries as "Bonehead", celebrated his Tuesday victory with a speech yesterday, in which he repeated rather pompously that he and his friends had been elected to do what the American people wanted, and they would. Of course; isn't that the whole idea of democratic government?

As they quite often do, the team at PBS' News Hour dug a little deeper, and Judy Woodruff uncovered the contradiction in that pleasant tale. The transcript is here; she pointed out: "You look at the exit polls... when... people were asked, what's the... top priority for the next Congress, 37-39% said, reduce the deficit. Almost as many said spend to create jobs. So, when John Boehner today, the -- presumably the next speaker, Mark, says he wants to listen to the voters, which message is he saying they should listen to?"

The Voice of the People, she saw correctly, had said two opposing things. So which will Boehner pick?

Mark Shields, known for his Democrat sympathies and his quick and mischievous wit, replied a bit faster, perhaps, than he now wishes: he said "Whichever one he chooses." And so, he gave away the game.

He knows perfectly well, as does everyone in the government industry, that once someone has acquired power, he will use that power exactly as he sees fit. The story about "representing the people" is just the sales line, put there to give him the power in the first place. Democracy is a farce. Government does what it wants to do; the purpose of power is power.

The particular contradiction in popular will in this case is that assuming that government must exist, one cannot both "create jobs" and "reduce the deficit." That's because in governing orthodoxy, one can spend money once - either to pay down their debt by handing it to creditors, or else flood the banks with fresh paper which they can lend to real businesses which will hire people; that's what they mean by "creating jobs." It doesn't really create any, because the act of printing that paper actually creates a new debt, meaning that somebody, somewhere, perhaps tomorrow, has to lay employees off - but it may suffice to create the illusion, to fool the next round of voters.

But in his witty four-word response, Mark Shields punctured the pomposity and revealed the nonsense for what it is. And that's why this Blog cuts through the hypocrisy and says that government doesn't work. Never has, never will, and never can.

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