Sunday, November 20, 2011

Bureaucrats Out of Control

We Americans can feel somewhat relieved that it’s their, not our bureaucrats. This time it's bureaucrats in the European Union who are making complete fools of themselves.

At first, it looks like a joke. Eurocrats have proclaimed that, henceforth, no manufacturer of bottled water—you know, Perrier, Evian, and the rest—will be allowed to advertise that its water might serve to hydrate your human body.

I will not belabor the rationale. It is not worth belaboring. Eurocrats have taken legalistic thinking to a ridiculous extreme. They have also asserted their power.

It’s just water, you will say, but those who seek to rule the world know that each piece of conquered terrain increases their power. It's not a grand victory. It's more like death by a thousand cuts. 

It feels superfluous, but I will offer some reliable information about water and the human body, this time from the Mayo Clinic.

In its words: “Water is your body's principal chemical component and makes up about 60 percent of your body weight. Every system in your body depends on water. For example, water flushes toxins out of vital organs, carries nutrients to your cells and provides a moist environment for ear, nose and throat tissues.

“Lack of water can lead to dehydration, a condition that occurs when you don't have enough water in your body to carry out normal functions. Even mild dehydration can drain your energy and make you tired.”

If the issue is so clear, how could the Eurocrats have gotten it so wrong?

I can offer three possible explanations.

Perhaps they were bought off by the powerful Gatorade lobby. No one ever said that bureaucrats were beyond sin.

Maybe they don’t know what the word hydrate means. After all, it’s a big word and it derives from the Greek.

Finally, it may be that Eurocrats have a deeply repressed unconscious wish to write for The Onion.

You see, it’s easily explained.

The strange thing is, these public servants have no sense of public relations. Or else, they do not care what anyone thinks.

Eurocrats are so consumed by their own arrogance that they have gone beyond shame. Bloated with feelings of righteous self-importance they do not care how it looks to the citizenry. They manifest one of the few socially acceptable forms of modern shamelessness.

It makes some sense. They were not elected. They are not subject to recall. They answer to no one. They believe that they are doing God’s work. They are not subject to laws of supply and demand or to the balance of political power.You don't think it's an accident that Barack Obama is trying to govern by bureaucratic edict.

Bureaucrats function as what Plato called a Guardian Class, a group of philosopher-kings whose intellectual acumen qualifies them to be in charge of the government, the economy, and your life.

If you don’t like it, you know what you can do.

Today, everyone is painfully aware of the fact that the European Union is in serious financial trouble. Most Southern European countries are insolvent. We also know that a pending Eurobust risks destroying the international banking system.Worse yet, it's going to be extremely difficult to blame it on free market capitalism.

Now, members of the class of Eurocrat Guardians who engineered this calamity are showing off their muscle by protecting consumers from the deeply subversive and misleading message:  that water hydrates.

It’s not that they are worried about how much water your body absorbs. They seem to be far more concerned about what ideas your mind is exposed to. After all, banning information from advertising is a form of mind control.

When I introduced the notion of Guardians, I wanted to underscore the fact that bureaucrats define themselves as protectors. They see themselves protecting the general public from the evils of free enterprise.

Those giant corporations, venal beyond the pale, merely want to accumulate profits. They are so thirsty for profit that they will happily exploit and abuse their feeble-minded customers…that would be you. Given the choice they would happily sell you soap that doesn't clean, clothes that don't fit, and water that doesn't hydrate. Because they know that if they can run enough advertising saying that the soap cleans, the clothes fit, and the water hydrates, that you, dumb as a post, will believe every word of it and will keep buying their products.

Corporations do not care about you. They certainly do not care the pristine wilderness. They are not caring and compassionate persons.

We need also to note that this Eurocratic directive concerns what a giant corporation cannot say about a corporate product. It does not, presumably, apply to tap water.

Therein lies a tale.

In Europe, as in America, you may choose between bottled water and tap water. You can choose between water that is being sold by a giant private corporation and water that is being provided by the government.

On the one side you have Perrier. On the other side you have what we’ll call: People’s Water.

In fact, citizens drink massive amounts of Perrier because they are smart enough not to pollute their bodies with People’s Water.

It’s good enough to wash in. It’s good enough to flush down the toilet. But it is certainly not good enough to drink.

Isn’t the popularity of Perrier an indictment of the governments that bring us People’s Water? If so, it must represent an existential threat to bureaucrats.

In the real world, it looks like a marriage of arrogance with legalism. But, of course, bureaucrats do not live in the real world. They live in a fictional world where big bad corporations, sustained by the free enterprise system, are so hellbent on destroying everyone’s lives that their rapacious appetites must be controlled and supervised by bureaucrats, aided and abetted by trial lawyers and diverse advocacy groups.

Within this fictional world corporations are so greedy for profit that they do not care a whit for the well-being of their employees. Thus, these employees need labor unions to counteract predatory corporate practices.

Of course, this is a fiction in the sense that it is untrue. No corporation can build a business by poisoning its customers. And no corporation can function efficiently if it systematically demoralizes its workers.

Under the current American administration corporations are constantly under scrutiny and attack by bureaucrats and regulators. Happily, the vast majority of American workers, given a free choice, does not believe that it needs a union to protect and guard its interests. Most understand that unions kill jobs.

Still, as recently as 2008 the American people elected a president who lives in a fictional world where corporations are evil because they seek to make a profit and where bureaucrats serve the public interest.

It makes sense that Obama has been stoking the dialectical conflict between these irreconcilable opposites. Like his union supporters, he does not respect the will of the people as expressed in elections. That's why he supports the Occupy movement.

Keep in mind that when the people of Wisconsin elected Republicans in November, 2011 the unions and their Democratic flunkies struck the first blow in the Occupy movement: they occupied the state capital building in Madison.

When they fail at electoral politics, they launch a movement to take what the people have chosen not to give them.

Within this quasi-socialist fiction, it makes sense to say that while corporations must be constrained, bureaucrats must not.

Bureaucrats are not elected. They cannot be recalled. They maintain their power through the political influence of labor unions that help elect public officials.

But they also gain power by manipulating the public mind. If you dare to suggest that bureaucratic power should be constrained, then the trial lawyers and the unions and the media will start flashing pictures of people who have been maimed, mutilated, and even killed by bad products.

Every time something bad happens, the bureaucrat lobby will declare that strict regulation will ensure that it will never happen again. To bureaucrats, the solution is always to give more power to bureaucrats.

Of course, this has its appeal. It’s easier to understand the fictions about class struggle and about the battle of good versus evil, than to do the hard work required to engage in cooperative enterprise.

Getting along is harder than fighting it out.

Within the fiction of class struggle, those who are supposed to be representing the People are allowed to get away with almost anything while those who represent the free enterprise system and liberal democracy are assumed to be corrupt, venal and evil.

This explains why members of the Occupy movement are allowed to trespass, to commit larceny, to rape with impunity, to utter the most vile anti-Semitic slogans, to become a health hazard, and to transgress local ordinances, while the Tea Party, whose goal was to work within the system, was routinely excoriated in the press for sins it had not committed.

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