Archives for: November 2014
No Noble Idea Left Uncorrupted
In the dying days of communism, I often pondered what Lenin would have thought had he lived through the miasma of latter day Soviet Bloc. Decrepit factories, runaway party apparatus, silenced dissent, inability to travel beyond the Iron Curtain, denied education for kids of political rivals. That was not the worker's paradise. That was a rotting corpse of a society.
Last year I read an article about outrageous compensation packages for public employees in California. I was surprised to find that the list of those who receive six figure pensions from CalPERS was over 12,000 long. Among those were retirees collecting nearly half a million in pension and employees of fiscally troubled cities earning over 200k a year. The idea of labor unions was a great tool in the struggle against unchecked power of greedy capitalists, but somehow in the hands of public servants it went terribly wrong. Over time this once noble idea became a smokescreen for the looting of public treasury.
Or what would Keynes have thought of the public spending mechanism in its present embodiment? His great idea became a vehicle for pork and bridges to nowhere. What would Christ think if he saw opulent trappings of Vatican or the cover ups in the children abuse scandals. What would the founding Fathers think of the revolving door between Washington and the Wall Street?
Over the course of its history, mankind had come up with plenty of great ideas - trade unions, social justice, church, public spending. Yet for one reason or another they have all gone terribly wrong somewhere along the way. Perhaps visionaries saw the moral landscape from their elevated plane and none of those that came afterwards could match their perspective. Perhaps they treated their idea as a child, they wanted it to succeed, they were willing to sacrifice for it. But those who carried the torch had much less love to give. They thought for themselves and the ideas have slowly been corrupted.
Too bad that thinkers and dreamers and so few and far between. We could always use an upgrade in the quality of torch bearers...