Monday, April 30, 2007

accountability

The common man has said: we must hold the government accountable for its actions. But there is no "who" to hold accountable. And in fact, what we uniformly observe from governments is inconsistent behavior: laws which can only be motivated by inconsistent principles and inconsistent enforcement of the same. Are these the marks of one who can be held accountable? Are these the marks of one who is accountable? O, Woe! laments the common man: How can we fix this dire situation? We must appeal and protest until our voice is heard! To whom do you appeal? Only individuals. From whom can you hope for response? Only individuals. Yet no individual is accountable for all a government's behavior! "How, how," wails the common man, "how do we defend ourselves against an inconsistent government if there are none to hold accountable?" The wise man responds with gravity: you, you are to blame; only you can be held accountable. "Not I, not I: this governance is not mine!" Then, remarks the wise man casually, I must defer to he whose expertise is conflict: the best defense is a good offense.

2 comments:

The Duke of Buckingham said...

This lament, to me, seems to be offered by one who has but a general understanding of laws and governance. Without getting into an argument about the the government being far too large (which it is), you seem to characterize the government as one large monolithic entity. That may be convenient for your rhetoric about the common individual versus a monolith. But what do you say about government opening meetings? Comment periods for proposed regulations? Each individual has three federal representatives in his federal legislature. He may write to, lobby, and/or otherwise communicate with the representatives of Cabinet departments or independent agencies. He might attend governmental meetings. He might find the law that aggrieves him. Each statute, after all, is offered by a representative in the House or the Senate. It is signed or vetoed by the president. Regulations are promulgated by agencies and must be open for comment by law.

How is it that one cannot appeal to the governmental agency which enacts the regulations or the sponsors of the bills that become statutory law? How is it that one cannot appeal to the executive agency that is charged with enforcing the particular law at issue?

Perhaps the individual is too busy mired in vague and general rhetoric?

horus kemwer said...

Oh Duke, Duke! It is precisely attempts to interpret the government as "one large monolithic entity" which I lament against!

The "checks and balances" by which our fair nation operates are orchestrated precisely to prevent the accountability that can only come from a single entity. Thus, if there were such an entity, I might protest: how can you prohibit deforestation with your right hand while you ban a plant which produces 4 times more paper per acre than trees with your left? ~ how can you punish one woman for the murder of her child with your right hand while you fund another's with your left? ~ how can you defend a "right" with the same breath with which you eliminate it? ~ how can you fill the prisons with those who have sinned only against themselves while the poor languish hungry upon the streets? ~ how can you "defend" your subjects by making more enemies?

I say this of the petty measures which delude the common man into believing his government is accountable: once you successfully wield your ducal powers through these channels to address the above listed inconsistencies, then I will acknowledge they are more than mere palliative.

In the meantime, I lounge reluctantly upon my velvet throne and turn a bitter eye on the impotent floundering of my countrymen. Only with the realization of impotence comes power.