Bullshit Laws, Policies, and Institutions

Everywhere I look — the news, commentaries, social media — there is a concern with what is happening: protest over a war here, a war there; protests over an oil pipe line or an oil spill, for or against immigration, for or against abortions; lack of response to the Covid-19 epidemic, the widespread police brutality, climate change, Trump doing this and not doing that, deVos bunglings with education, etc., etc. But what is totally neglected is a critique of the institutions which foster all of these: the institution which fosters the enactment of bad laws, namely Congress; the institution of a Supreme Court which rules and interprets these laws in capricious ways; the office of a President with his Constitutional and extra-Constitutional powers. And if you tell me about checks and balances, just remember that the House of Representatives impeached Donald Trump, while the Senate — exonerated him! So much for checks and balances! In short, if you are dissatisfied with the laws and policies which are operative, look at the institutional structure which fosters all of this: the US Constitution. I know, I know . . . we pledge allegiance . . . but it is not an allegiance to the Constitution … though, unfortunately, the Constitution — if thought about at all — is probably widely revered like the Christian Bible with an implicit taboo on criticism.

If there is a critique of the United States, it is not of the political institutions, but of an allegedly economic institution of capitalism. My quick response to this is that it is a mistake to look at capitalism as an economic phenomenon; it is a political phenomenon, created by barring people from free access to subsistence land.

You may respond by saying: “If that is true, then Congress could revive some form of the Homestead Act of 1862.”

My answer to this is: it won’t happen, as it did not happen after the Civil War in 1865 when General Sherman proposed to give to former slaves 40 acres and a mule. And the reason it won’t happen is that it is not in the interest of entrepreneurs and corporations which need employees to carry on their profitable projects. And Congress is full of friends of entrepreneurs and corporations.

And it won’t happen through elections because most voters are oblivious of the connection between capitalism and free access to subsistence land, and are more concerned with their immediate security — to the extent that they have it. Besides, voters are more prone to vote for a charismatic politician than for any specific policies promised. As to awareness of political institutions, these exist — if at all — in the recesses of voters’ minds.

And the status quo (i.e., more of the same) will prevail, unless the institutions are changed.

And what country has a better Constitution? Switzerland!

Federal Council of Switzerland

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.