Wednesday, March 25, 2009

All of This Will Has No Backing

Kings most commonly, though strong in legions, are but weak in Arguments; as they who have ever accustomed from thir Cradle to use thir will only as thir right hand, thir reason always as thir left. Whence unexpectedly constrained to that kind of combat, they prove but weak and puny Adversaries.

Milton, Preface to Eikonoklastes
Via Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson

I have been seeing billboards for the new season of The Tudors (Yeah!). The series really makes Henry VIII a bad ass who has some difficulty mastering his appetites. The billboards are quite simple, Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Henry VIII on his throne. Parts of the Lord's Prayer are used as taglines. One is "Thy Kingdom Come", and the other is "Thy Will Be Done". The one about Will got be to recall the quote above.

I have observed in the past that many people seem to equate sincerity with Correctness. If they well and truly believe, and if they have more belief than those who oppose them, then the world will reward them by conforming to their desires. Basically it is political science by The Secret.

These beliefs break any political problem into easily manageable solutions. The solutions are so easy, in fact, that there is no legitimate reason not to get with the program. The result is a neat little morality play with virtuous wishers on the one side and the malicious deniers who hide behind excuses of "too expensive" or "not feasible" on the other. Especially vile are those people who have great will but choose to do nothing. Who are these people? They are The Rich, who have the physical representation of Will in the modern world: Money.

This mode of thought is the only way I can think of that would allow people to think that more money to the same old programs will solve the problems that they have failed to solve in to past. Obviously, we as a Society have failed to exert enough Will to get the important things done.

How do you prove how sincere you are? If you have a legislative office, the answer is easy: you measure your sincerity with money. Nothing says "I believe" like an appropriation bill with lots of zeroes. Even better if you remove the capacity to exert Will upon the world from those without the best of intentions.

Sometimes it gets hard to comprehend the shear scale of the numbers being thrown around by the government of late. If I start seeing numbers like that at work I have to shift over to larger units (mega Newtons, giga bytes, kilogram, etc.). Dollars don't have neat prefixes, at least not yet. Unless the government gets a rein on the budget right quick, MegaBucks ain't gonna be just a Lottery.

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