Lesser of Two …

It has been said that when a man chooses the lesser of two evils, evil still wins. The statement is so obviously true that realists often ignore this basic principle, often justifying the choice as “incremental change for the better”. I ask you to consider that choosing between a lesser and a greater evil is in fact incremental change for the worse.

Other choices in say, a political contest, may not be apparent especially in a climate of compromise. In such a climate the usual negotiation begins with two sides offering positions with no hope of acceptance, both sides understanding that the game is to arrive as close as possible to their preferred positions. While this works quite well in a negotiation between two equals there are many factors altering the balance, or the relative negotiating strength of the contestants.

Imagine, if you will, the classic unbalanced negotiation: the hostage crisis. One negotiator threatens to kill the hostage if he doesn’t get a million dollars while the other negotiator has to avoid giving the money and at the same time must keep the hostage alive. These things have been known to go on for days at a time before resolution. The resolution is often a bad one for the hostage and for the first negotiator. While it appears that the perpetrator has the more powerful position, the reality is that the police have the superior position. The police suffer no harm if the bad guy kills the hostage. Other than their altruistic desire to see the hostage survive there is no incentive. Add to that lack of incentive the police willingness to kill the perpetrator and we see that taking hostages is generally speaking a very weak, if not completely desperate way to enter a negotiation. The police have the time, the firepower, and the conviction of purpose to kill while the perpetrator does not. If he had such conviction there would be no hostage crisis.

Now consider our Federal Government. We have a tricameral organization, three independent and co-equal branches. One wields the power of law without enforcement ability. Another wields enforcement ability without the power of law. And the third, the congress, wields the power of the purse coupled with a near unlimited power to make or purge the power of law. (Law in this case is man-made law.)

Discounting the Judicial as the weakest of the three, let us consider the Executive and the Congressional as negotiators. We can consider a wide variety of issues. The most egregious examples in recent years occurred when a single power controlled both branches. Those were not negotiations by any stretch. Ask then why more recently did a Congress approve a budget that was submitted by the Executive along with a great many special authorizations and by some reports containing more appropriations than the Executive requested. Why do we have a 1.1 trillion dollar budget with 500 billion in deficit spending?

As a negotiation the Executive determined what it wanted in order to finance the programs it wanted to finance. In a typical negotiation this would have been more than the Executive expected to get and there would have been a plan to give up some of the requests in order to preserve the essential programs. Congress essentially approved the budget without much debate, certainly without any serious challenge to the requested numbers.

What factor in a negotiation lead one party to surrender all of its opening position so completely as Congress has been doing for the last seven years or so? The answer is simple. This is not a negotiation. Congress for whatever reason believes the Executive holds all the advantages.

In other words, Congress is our hostage taker unwilling to shoot the hostage, unwilling to even threaten to shoot the hostage. Congress today exists with the mindset of our hostage taker minutes, perhaps seconds before he throws down his weapon and surrenders. And Congress exists perpetually in that state of mind.

When the Executive chooses evil and the Congress chooses the lesser of two evils then evil wins in Washington. Only two things can change the balance back in favor of the good, in favor of freedom in America:

Congress must shoot the hostage and shut down the government, play out the political gunfight, or …



About Stoshwolfen

A man, a Christian, an Objectivist, and a Pragmatist.
This entry was posted in Essays on Freedom, Ethics, politics. Bookmark the permalink.

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