Translation of Excerpts from Robert Heinlein's Book, Take Your Government Away - Part 6
"You need to manage the country the way you do your business."
This is a well-known and, in my opinion, stupid statement.
Take a look at political professionals - they do just that. Are you sure that is what you meant? Any business is an organization that is fully and completely aimed at obtaining personal benefits for the business owner. In exchange for providing customers with what they need, the business gets its money. Isn't that what professional politicians do?
Our Constitution clearly states why we need a government - “to improve our country, to protect justice, to ensure peace and tranquility in the country, to protect the country by joint efforts of citizens, to promote the well-being of citizens, and to preserve the achievements of freedom” - and that’s all that’s written about government tasks. And there is not a word about gaining profit and that "you need to manage the country in the same way as your business." Business methods are good for business purposes, but completely incompatible with the goals listed in the Constitution. I am not saying that a businessman cannot work well in government. I just want to say that he should not try to rule the country as authoritarian and peremptory as he runs his own company, otherwise the voters will immediately throw him out of the government as soon as they understand who they have contacted.
Of course, some issues of governing the country to a greater extent can bear the treatment of them as business, but most attempts to redirect government services in a pragmatic way end with protesting screams from all those who are used to the order that prevailed before the reforms, without the slightest praise from those who these reforms have helped.
Take for example the new income tax return. It was revised, made understandable, all previously unobvious points are now sorted out to such an extent that even a clinical idiot with a hangover can fill out a declaration, unless he accidentally washed his book of incomes and expenses in the washing machine (and if he has these there are not two books - one for myself, and the other for the tax office). The main thing that makes the new declaration a miracle of clerical genius is the amazing simplicity with which it describes all the tricks that take into account various considerations, conjectures, and trade-offs that the income tax owes to the desperate efforts of government members from both main parties to make the tax fair all, and at the same time manage to collect enough funds in the budget to pay for the most expensive war in history.
So have you heard at least one praise addressed to the creators of this miracle? No matter how! But it is enough to mention the pop comedian on March 15, the date of the introduction of the new declaration, so that a rather intense laugh can be heard in the auditorium. The difficulty in understanding the new declaration is extolled to such an extent that it is compared with the theory of relativity.
Get out of your head advice on managing the country as well as business. No government should profit from its work, and a democratic government should not be governed by its head alone. Are you still sure that you really want to run the country “as well as business”? Then what about the confiscation of your home for failure to pay taxes on time, with the same swiftness with which the bank will take your house from you when the installment payment on the loan secured by the house is delayed, or from which the owner of the apartment you rent will evict you if the rent is not paid on time? So maybe you are happy with the fact that in such a situation the government will ask you to pay tax for years before it comes to selling your property under the hammer?
By the way, I can’t understand why people who are forced to queue at the post office or other government agency immediately begin to scold the government for failing to provide their service without delay. And why, standing in the same line at a private bank, these same people are quiet and submissive like lambs. Maybe because they still want their government to work for their benefit, and not do business with them? Maybe.
Politicians always compromise
This statement is quite true, but the conclusion made on its basis that all compromises mean dishonesty is utter nonsense. Compromises are the foundation of democracy, without them there can be neither democracy nor freedom. The fact that we compromise means that, negotiating with the other side, we, like the other side, make some concessions, and, meeting halfway between our and their demands, we agree to act together, going along the path, not to the end suit each side. Every happily married couple makes wide use of compromises, and if compromises are good around the hearth, why are they bad on Capitol Hill? A person who does not make any compromises is not a crystal-clear idealist, as one might think, but a smug donkey, undemocratic to the core of his bones.
In the chapter on the art of practical politics, we will also talk about compromises, which are especially important when nominating party candidates, and during the primary elections - primaries.
Which government is better - recruited from the people of the ruling party, or formed on a competitive basis?
This question is not so clear as many of us see it.
To begin with, let's agree that the recruitment of officials on a competitive basis is well suited for the formation of most state organizations of a level that does not directly affect public policy - provided that the rules for competitive selection are well thought out to form an honest and efficient organization, and these rules are for sure are being implemented. Otherwise, the contest will turn out to be another loophole filling the public service with corrupt professional politicians and their proteges, which then voters cannot get out of there. Juggling of the competitive selection of applicants usually occurs during the oral exam, the results of which are counted almost on a par with the results of written testing.
The second way to form a public service — appointing people to the party who won the election — does not bring much benefit to practical politicians. If they start paying for their political obligations with government posts, they will very quickly find that these posts are not enough for them to pay them off. For some reason, some of our senators became insatiable in the search for new posts for the appointment of their people. Recently, one of the senators even proposed the adoption of a law requiring the party membership of candidates to be appointed to the post of senior aerodynamics at the Wilbur Wright military airbase. Other senators generally refuse to engage in appointments, or delegate this function to local party branches. Many politicians in official positions have told me
The reason for this state of affairs is very simple: for each such vacancy, there are at least a dozen applicants who, in their opinion, deserve this position due to their political merits. Thus, when one of them is appointed to the post, the congressman receives his loyalty, and personal hostility of all the other eleven candidates who did not fall into the post. After several terms in office, such a congressman is surrounded by a crowd of rejected job seekers, say, postmaster, ready to vote for his rival.
And yet, if you intend to engage in politics, you will have to deal with the appointment of people to government posts. Even if you make it a rule not to deal with this issue at all, sooner or later he will come back to you. What to do in this case, I will tell in the following chapters.
At the federal level, unlike organizations at the state and local levels, there are almost no frauds when hiring employees in government. Therefore, the federal level of public service will not cause you much trouble, in general, it works well and is managed. Although, he is not a stranger to politics: civil servants of this level have an influential lobby in Washington, which, however, is quite neutral, and does not lean towards any of the parties. Basically, this lobby seeks to expand and improve the financing of state organizations and increase the salaries of civil servants. By the way, Senator Robert Baird considers this lobby one of the most important problems facing the Republican Party. Personally, I do not think this lobby is a problem. And you decide for yourself what you think about this.
The worst thing in our federal government agencies is the salary that employees pay there, and which, like the working conditions, are not so high as to attract sufficiently competent employees to such highly qualified posts as, say, the head of the agronomy department , curator of aerodynamic research, or chief physicist of the Bureau of Standards. This problem is not limited to the federal level, it is characteristic of our entire civil service. We pay congressmen $ 10,000 a year for work, while they spend about $ 15,000 on their lives, apart from the fact that they spend on the campaign, and then we wonder why everyone in the government takes bribes.
One of the common misconceptions is connected with the so-called “feeding trough”. By all accounts, every official appointed or elected to a position earns his livelihood through a process midway between cannibalism and vampirism, which is almost looting. In fact, only the most cunning and unprincipled stick to the feeder. As I said, a congressman’s salary means slow ruin. State congressmen have a worse situation. For a congressman or state senator, one hundred dollars a month is a high fee, in most states, it is even less. None of them receive a salary sufficient for living, while they work, fully fulfilling their duties in the current difficult situation, sixty hours a week, instead of the generally accepted forty.
How do they survive?
One of two things:
a) they live honestly, receiving passive income, or pay for work performed in their free time from the civil service, at the expense of their health, because such a lifestyle is an unbearable burden;
b) they take bribes in a semi-legal or illegal manner.
If the congressman, like many among them, is a lawyer, then it is easy for him to find a way to get bribes using loopholes in the laws. You can ask your lawyer how to do this. Although, what is there to hide, I myself can tell you. In most states (as far as I know, strongly in all), a congressman who is a lawyer has the right to work outside the profession during his congressional term. For his services, the nature of which is not determined by anything, he can receive unlimited fees. These fees may be a real fee for the services actually rendered, or they may be a “half-bribe” that the congressman receives for his social position and related opportunities without fulfilling any specific obligations (it is met very often, the congressman is gradually “tamed” by the bribe giver, without a direct purchase of his voting rights). Or it could be an ordinary bribe given in a manner that does not violate the law.
If you suddenly want to eradicate this evil in your state, making it easier than ever! Just ensure that your state congressmen receive at least $ 10,000 a year. This amount is a reasonable payment for their labor. In addition, prohibit them from receiving remuneration for outside work, and require each of them to publicly report on the income received at the beginning and at the end of the deputy term.
However, advising you to do this is much easier than writing and enforcing such a law. And by no means because of opposition to him among the congressmen, but because of the fierce and short-sighted resistance to the adoption of this law by a large part of the population, which can’t tolerate government officials to receive a salary that they can live on and will not at all endure the increase of civil servants salaries to a level commensurate with the degree of their responsibility.
It is strange and surprising that with all this, despite the meager salary and irregular working hours, despite the scornful, suspicious and biased attitude of the voters (who, apparently, consider the congressmen to be a cross between the released recidivist and the galley slave ), a very large part of our congressmen are honest, sincere workers, doing everything in their power for the benefit of the state and voters.
Why are they doing this? Why does anyone even undertake such hard and thankless work? In England, working in government is the most prestigious of all the activities that a gentleman can do. In our country, a person who decides to enter the civil service should say goodbye to his good reputation in society.
So why do respectable people associate with the civil service (and their number is an order of magnitude greater than the number of corrupt officials)? And, once you burn your fingers on it, again and again achieve their re-election to the post? Maybe this is a thirst for power? Or can they not live without fame in society? Is there any kind of psychic dependence hiding here?
All of the above can be true to some extent, but I have my own theory about the main reason that forces people to serve society. My theory is based on my personal acquaintance with many congressmen, and although it may be incorrect, I will still express it. I think the main reason for these people to do what they do is patriotism.
Most in our country believe that actively supporting any of the parties is simply indecent, and that truly worthy people do not support any parties. Often you can hear the smug “I vote for the candidate, not the party”, said as if all sins were forgiven for this pious act. This phrase is especially characteristic of middle-aged and elderly women.
Personally, I always, with rare exceptions, vote not for the candidate, but for the party that nominated him. And I advise you to do the same. Find the party that suits you and support! Keep her regular! Vote in the elections for the same party for which you voted in the primaries. Help strengthen party discipline, not only during the election campaign, but also after the election, among government officials appointed by your party. Let them support the political platform of the party.
Like all generalizations, this rule has its exceptions, which, however, are very few, so few that you need to spend several sleepless nights before deciding that special circumstances require breaking this rule. I can advise a simple indicator of the need for such a decision, which I use myself: I will not vote for a candidate whom I know for sure that he is a notorious corrupt official, an opponent of our political system, or, in my opinion, has other negative qualities to the extent that makes it dangerous for society if appointed to the government.
At the same time, I will vote for a boob from our party, and not for a smart girl from the party of our opponents. Because, all I ask of the poor fellow not far off is to represent me in the government, and there he will do exactly what the party deems necessary. A clever girl from another party, by the very fact of her membership in another party, voted against the political program, which I consider fair, and which distinguishes one party from another.
The opinion that the most ideal way is to vote for the candidate, ignoring his party affiliation, stems from a misunderstanding of the very essence of the democratic process. A democratic government is a way to reconcile the desire of each of us to do as he pleases, with the need to develop rules and regulations that promote the well-being of all in the aggregate, and the preservation of the individuality of each individual.
When it comes to 140,000,000 individuals, the decision-making process is more formal and complex than when a family decides which movie the whole family will go to watch. The decision-making procedure we use, as necessary, is what it is, and humanity has not yet invented anything better for this purpose. Individuals with similar points of view get together, discuss the candidates they will nominate, and proposed solutions to pressing problems, settle the differences that arise in this case, make compromises and, in the end, work out political programs and lists of candidates for the primary elections - primaries. Naturally, individuals participate in the primaries of precisely that party, from the point of view of which they initially agree most of all. As a result of the primaries, they hope to bring the list of party candidates and their programs as close as possible to the ideal - their own point of view. Other groups of individuals do the same. After the primaries, political groups, both successfully promoting their candidates and programs, and unsuccessful, unite in even larger groups, working out further compromises among themselves. By the way, a considerable number of concessions, if not most of them, are made by successful groups in favor of the unsuccessful - because they know that they will not be able to win the elections alone. making further compromises among themselves. By the way, a considerable number of concessions, if not most of them, are made by successful groups in favor of the unsuccessful - because they know that they will not be able to win the elections alone. making further compromises among themselves. By the way, a considerable number of concessions, if not most of them, are made by successful groups in favor of the unsuccessful - because they know that they will not be able to win the elections alone.
And so, one way or another, the party program is forged, summing up a set of compromises, the arithmetic mean of the desires, opinions and needs of many people. All these people, although only partially, received what they consider to be fair, and in return they give their support to the party. After that, an election committee is formed. Often, the campaign is run by the most influential candidate who is not on the electoral list. In the election committee everywhere you will find candidates who haven’t passed the main elections and their supporters, who, however, are now working hard so that their recent rival in the primaries won the elections. Do you think this is unprincipled? No! This is mutual support and civilized cooperation.
After the election, the process of reaching a compromise begins again, because the candidates who won the election from each party are now in power. And now, based on their limitless election promises, diametrically opposite directions of reform, and fundamentally different points of view, they must develop common strategies for action, adopt laws and form a government.
It is from this complex endless chain of compromises that the government of our country, states, cities and towns is born. And there is no other way to create a government that can manage truly free people.
But the main moral of the whole story is that you cannot participate in this process without belonging to one of the parties. What is a political party? This is a large group of people with sufficiently different points of view who agreed to compromise among themselves in order to work out a common program acceptable to all that they alone could not put into practice.
This definition is strongly applicable to all political organizations. In our country, we call parties political groups that lie below the government level. The groups these national parties are made up of are also small parties, no matter what we call them - political club, group, bloc, wing or league. And, by the way, the “league of non-partisans” is also a political party. As well as the "League of Voters of Independent Candidates", or the "Civil Affairs Committee." Lincoln also said on this occasion: "the tail named after the foot does not become such because of the name." Parties that do not call themselves parties are generally less accountable to their constituents, and more prone to fraud than parties that openly acknowledge their party identity.
But why is it necessary to support the party and not vote independently, after a thorough study of the candidates and their programs, based on the common good? This approach looks good, and would look even better if it worked. And it would be even better if the number π was exactly three, and not the inconvenient in calculations irrational 3.14159 ...
There are two reasons to support the party: one of them is of a moral order, the other of a practical one. The practical point is that you cannot engage in politics effectively without participating in this process of finding compromises and resolving disagreements, through which individual citizens come together in ever larger groups until they can form a government. If you do not support the party, then you are a loner, not keeping up with the rest, and you have only one chance against 140 million, that you can influence what is happening in the country.
If you write alone to your congressman on some important issue for you, he will understand that you are a lightweight political loner and will not pay much attention to your letter. But if he knows that you are an active member of the Southern Political Club of the Democratic or Republican Party, he will answer you with a detailed description of his views on this issue, and will ask you to present his answers to him. And it doesn’t matter if your congressman belongs to the same party as your political club or not, the main thing that the congressman knows is that you regularly participate in the fundamental democratic process of party politics.
And now about the moral reason to be with the party: every time you participate in a democratic process in a group, you implicitly agree with other members of the group that you will subordinate your ambitions to the will of the majority. If you know in advance that you will not be satisfied under any circumstances with what the majority wants, then you have contacted the wrong people and should look for a group of like-minded people that is more suitable for you.
But you have absolutely no right to participate in group meetings and take part in the vote if you are not ready to put up with the result of the vote. Voting questions can be very important. And one day it may turn out that the democratic process will produce a result that you did not foresee, with which you cannot agree without going into a deal with your conscience. And then you have only one answer - to leave your political group.
Just do not immediately rush into the opposition against everyone! Let you not find like-minded people, well, you will have another chance to find them, take a pause for reflection, and next time choose the political group in which you will be a member more carefully. Go to another political club, to another political group, to another party, for that matter, and start all over again. But do not rush between the two parties, managing to participate on both sides during one election campaign.
If you are a member of a party, this does not mean that you must remain in this party all your life. Going from one batch to another is absolutely normal. As well as participating in the creation of another party, if you think that the position of your previous party does not correspond with your views. Membership in compromise parties - political groups that nominate and support candidates, regardless of their party affiliation, on the basis of their election statements and programs is also commonplace. Despite the fact that, in general, such a party is a somewhat adventurous and unrealistic undertaking, it has a right to life. However, being in a compromise party, you no longer have the moral right to participate in the activities of an ordinary party, including its primaries. Least,
If you take part in the nomination of party candidates, then you, like your party colleagues, are ready to accept the results of party voting, even if they are not in your favor. Some states have translated this principle into law, and in some states the law allows a person to be in one party, run for office from another, and nominate candidates from a third party. However, the moral side of such unprincipled behavior is the same everywhere.
In practice, the principle described above is implemented through closed meetings of party members with the dissonant name “focus”, held to discuss the lists of candidates nominated for elections. These meetings are specially designed to unite the efforts of the group members into the monolithic general actions of the group. They discuss both the nominated candidates and their programs. They work this way: a group of people whose opinions are similar are gathered to participate in politics. Some members of the group put forward a proposal to appoint a focus. While this is only a formal procedure, no candidates or programs are yet to be discussed. If the proposal is accepted, it means that all members of the group agreed to act at the same time and implement the candidates and programs for which the majority of the members of the group will vote.
Do you think this is ugly towards a minority? But hey, anyone who at this stage has decided that he does not want to bind himself with obligations to the will of the majority can get up and leave. Nobody deprived him of this right, he decides whether he wants to continue to remain in the same harness with the rest. And now, the doors are closed, and the remaining participants make decisions by a majority of votes, in the implementation of which all of them are now obliged to participate.
Simple, right? You do not have to join the caucus, but if you already entered it, then you undertake to implement its decisions. And yet, I met a lot of people, so politically naive that, refusing to bind themselves with any obligations, they demanded for themselves the right to remain in focus and participate in the discussion and vote. Others, after making decisions by the caucus, began to challenge them. One of our famous “reformers” is particularly prone to manifest such political dishonesty: he will always argue for why the “greatest good of all mankind” requires that he give up his promise to fulfill the coke decision. What characterizes him as a dishonorable person who will not be included in the coke the next time, and who will never again be able to serve humanity, which,
So, I tried to explain that the fact that you support a political party and are a member of it means that you have self-esteem, self-discipline and the ability to fulfill your obligations. To participate in politics, you will need to have your own principles and be a whole person, despite the widespread opinion that politicians are unprincipled types. Do not take seriously political loners who claim that they are not shackled by anything and who boast of their independence. They are simply irresponsible, and look like political cuckoos, proud of their habits to lay their eggs in nests they did not build.
If you are still afraid to be bound by party affiliation, and consider that you should be free in your right to vote in the elections as you wish, for the candidate whom you consider to be the most suitable, then no one will prevent you from doing this. However, an adult in this sense is not completely free, because he has a conscience, a sense of responsibility, and affection for other people. If you participated in the democratic process that led to the appearance in your hands of a list of party candidates, then you already have moral obligations that must be fulfilled.
There is another consequence of illegibility in the parties when choosing candidates. When you elect a candidate for the post, you expect him to fulfill his campaign promises. And it is right. However, if you elect the legislative assembly from the rivals of the Republican Party from the Democrats governor, do not think that in such an environment he will be able to work normally. Remember the second half of Hoover’s reign, when the executive branch and Congress acted in opposite directions, and the government was completely stalled. Neither Hoover nor Congress were able to pull each other.
Part 1, where there are links to all other parts