Voter confidence in politicians, in general, is depressingly low. It seems that most have starkly negative opinions about our so-called civil servants – on both sides of the aisle. Worse, it is easy to make the case that, well, people are right to take a cynical view of the denizens of Washington. But could there be more utility to the swamp-dwellers than most realize?
A counterintuitive answer
There is a counterintuitive answer to this question. Laziness is an innate drive in all living beings, and in moderation, that’s a good thing. In most situations, it benefits us to stop working beyond a certain point to save our strength for when we need it.
However, what happens if we are propelled into a state of perpetual abundance? Our wealth allows many people to live overly sedated lives to the point of making them unhealthy and woefully unprepared for challenges.
We need burdens
We are beasts of burden, as can be readily seen when astronauts travel to space. Even with regular exercise, they lose muscle and bone mass in the absence of gravity.
We need something to pull us down – to keep us in shape. To that end, politicians serve as a surprising force for good. Let’s face it: while politicians and bureaucrats sometimes do good things, the great majority of them burden our lives with grandiose, narcissistic schemes at the worst of times, and are otherwise simply dead weight.
They are a caste of resource wasters. But they do have an upside: the consistent burden they provide serves as training that readies us for natural disasters and war. We cannot expect good times to last forever. When the trouble comes, politicians have already – albeit unintentionally – prepared us.
Critical voices might add that surely there must be a way to achieve the benefits of burden without the ghastly wastefulness of Washington. Couldn’t there be a way to challenge our lazy genes while simultaneously putting those resources to better use?
Other critical voices – most of whom, admittedly, work in Washington – would claim that politicians and bureaucrats are doing wonderful jobs. They help the dispossessed to achieve social justice. Not only would they challenge the claim that they are a net burden on society, but they would find the very idea of challenges being useful deeply offensive. Burdens for the poor need to be reduced, and they are the ones to achieve it, of course.
A more optimal solution?
Many of the programs designed to help the poor aren’t just destructive and counterproductive from a purely economic viewpoint. Even worse, they rob the very people they ostensibly exist to help of the challenges of developing the skills needed to become strong and self-reliant.
The conservatarian perspective is that the challenges of life are most rewarding and effective when taken on voluntarily. As it just so happens, that’s also the solution that produces the most vibrant and sustainable economy.
Yet it is the very havoc wreaked by the Patricians that gives us the strength – and patience – to handle the worst that they, nature, and life itself can throw at us.