Charley Reese reckons that the U.S. is effectively governed by some 545 individuals ranging from the President, Congress and the Senate to the Supreme Court and the Federal Reserve
By Andrew Alexander
Why do politicians agree on so much but achieve so very little?
‘If all the politicians are against inflation and high taxes, why do we face inflation and high taxes?’
I am quoting from the exasperated ‘final column’ by Charley Reese in the U.S. newspaper the Orlando Sentinel.
He is giving up after 49 years of fighting against the tide. Indeed, what he complains of certainly sounds like our misfortune, too.
‘Politicians are the only people in the world who create problems and then campaign against them,’ he insists.
Which is certainly true here as it is in America. If the main political parties are against unemployment, inflation and budget deficits, why today do we so plainly face all three?
Reese reckons that the U.S. is effectively governed by some 545 individuals ranging from the President, Congress and the Senate to the Supreme Court and the Federal Reserve.
Others, like lobbyists, merely try to persuade. They do not have the ultimate power.
His total is not so distant from our own 630 Members of Parliament who can, as it used to be said, do what they like except turn a man into a woman (and vice versa).
Today you might mention that what the Commons does has to be subject to all EU rules — though even that is constitutionally questionable, since we can leave the EU any time we wish.
Reese is advancing a simple proposition: we are ruled by a small number of quarrelling politicians who regularly agree on certain basic propositions but never seem to achieve much at all — even their agreed ends.
He grumbles to his readers: ‘You and I do not propose a federal budget, the President does. You and I don’t write the tax code, Congress does. You and I don’t set fiscal policy, Congress does. You and I don’t control monetary policy, the Federal Reserve Bank does.’
Both our (America and Britain) democracies fail to deliver, they merely enhance our problems. What Charley Reece complains of affects not only us but also the other supposedly 'mature' democracies of Western Europe
You get the drift. The parallel is plain enough. Both our democracies fail to deliver, they merely enhance our problems. What he complains of affects not only us but also the other supposedly ‘mature’ democracies of Western Europe.
Of course it does not take long for politicians to start shifting the blame. We are legislating for this or that, they say, because you asked us to. Did we?
Oh yes, we put it into our manifesto when the other lot came up with something similar and we thought it would help in our search for office and power — sorry, for the opportunity to dedicate yet more of our lives to public service.
The Budget deficit? Reese claims that the deficit is as bad as it is and as constant as it is because politicians like it that way. And of course, up to a point that must be true. You can either be blunt and honest about this or you can echo our masters’ grand array of excuses.
They say, we had to spend more on x, y and z — to say nothing of a, b and c — in order to satisfy public demand. We may have created much of that debt by suggesting that public expenditure on supposed high-minded causes is virtuous.
Does that apply when you get to the stage where the taxpayer is paying in full for his own much-lauded benefits?
Yes, the politicians will say, because the money passes through our hands and we can have a fine old time claiming that this allows us to exercise ‘compassion’ — the most spine-chillingly bogus of motives when spending other people’s money in the pursuit of more votes.
But maybe, in fairness, all these failures be explained away by simple incompetence on the part of politicians, not by their wickedness.
The temptation to accept this view is very strong, sometimes irresistible. Inflation, for example, requires a budget deficit. And it sometimes requires skill and determination to outspend a massive revenue.
However, it can be done, as decades in the red demonstrate. Then with prices rising they can have a good old party fight about the best way to reverse the trend. They always enjoy that.
As for unemployment, there is always a good tussle to be had, especially since the minimum wage is one of the main causes. Few if any politicians will admit this fact.
Inflation and unemployment are both examples, as Reese would have it, of problems created by politicians which they can then campaign against.
To which might be added the outcome of equality laws (supported by both parties when first introduced). They led to courts being jammed up with absurd complaints concerning issues such as sexism and racism. The politicians would like to reverse the process they once helped to start, but are too nervous to do it.
The basic thesis in all this is that politicians are the creators, not the solvers, of problems.
This should be painfully obvious to us by now. Yet you, the electors, keep re-electing them with ever more extensive and futile programmes to operate.
Politics is a job creation process on a grand scale, all at your expense, of course.