Sic Semper Tyrannis

You know, I need to read some of Jerry Pournelle’s work. The guy has quite the resume, and his speculative fiction looks right up my alley. He also dabbles (OK, more than dabbles) in political discourse, and I respect his ideas quite a bit. Instapundit reminded me of this when he linked to something that Jerry had re-posted — from an early 1980’s preface to a sci-fi anthology. Let me get the “read the whole thing” out of the way — that’s obvious. I’d like to explain why this is so relevant today, and not just through the lens of the Cold War.

Two key paragraphs jump out at me as timeless, and at the same time, very timely. The first:

There are other pressures. Republics stand until the citizens begin to vote themselves largess from the public treasury. When the plunder begins, those plundered feel no loyalty to the nation—and the beneficiaries demand ever more, until few are left unplundered. Eventually everyone plunders everyone, the state serving as little more than an agency for collecting and dispensing largess. The economy falters. Inflation begins. Deficits mount. Something must be done. Strong measures are demanded, but nothing can be agreed to. 

With the latest CBO projection on the deficit, well, it’s apt. Consider this: under the President’s plan, less and less people will pay any income taxes at all. I know what you’re thinking: a good thing, right? No, it’s not. People who don’t fund the Federal Government’s programs are much more likely to want those programs to grow larger. I mean, why not? It’s self-interest winning over group interest. The percentage of Americans paying zero income taxes (or actually getting a check!) has been steadily rising for a long time. The higher this number goes, the less stable our democracy is. And here’s the second part of Jerry’s post that really hits home:

There are other masters; masters who will do more than hold fast to the old ways; they will usher in a new era. The theorists proclaim it. Times have changed. Old institutions, devised in simpler times, are outmoded. Modern times demand modern, streamlined, efficient government- government that can sweep away the dead hand of the past, and bring forth the new dawn.

A new friend of the people comes forth. He will end the babble of political parties and factions and class war He will give meaning to life; will lead a crusade against poverty, squalor, ugliness; will transform the nation into a land beautiful and shining.

Sound like anyone you know? Not that our current President on par with any of the 20th century nasties, but cult of personality married to dreams of Utopia is always a dangerous thing. Always.

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