The money is not wealth. It is worth nothing. It is a mere figment of the imagination, a tangible symbol. However, money makes it possible to transfer wealth by stealth. That is, behind the shield of money we have legal thievery, which could not be accomplished out in the open.
How does this happen? Largely via consent. In agreeing to pay interest, for example, borrowers agree to hand over some real asset or labor for nothing. The banker, in effect, in having accumulated lots of money, has assumed the position of the historical highwayman, who collected a toll from all travelers by using the threat of force to keep them from going about their business until they paid up. How did the banker get that privilege (to collect money for nothing)? Congress gave it to him.
It is because the relationship between banker and borrower is based on consent that law enforcement finds it difficult, if not impossible, to intervene. Not to mention that all governmental action is supposed to be in response to either a complaint or a demand.
Why are we discovering millions of people who are entitled to Medicaid but never got it? Because they hadn’t asked until they were prompted to do so by the ACA.
“Don’t ask, don’t tell” was truly a pernicious strategy — more pernicious than anyone knew. Because, in a sense, it constituted a new use for the position implied by the conditional sentence, “If they don’t ask, don’t tell them what the law is or their rights are.” By making the phrase overt in relation to issues of sex and gender, it’s traditional role in dispensing favors to the privileged/demanding class was obscured.
But, I think we have another unintended consequence here. The affected homosexual persons perceived it as a bridge too far and were prompted to demand their civil rights, only to discover that there’s another corollary to “don’t ask, don’t tell” — i.e. “if you don’t ask, you don’t get” and then the obverse is also true “ask to get.”
I’ve realized for quite a long time that the injunction “ask and you shall receive” should really be read not as a guarantee of getting, but as a statement that, if one doesn’t ask, not getting is certain. The key is in the asking. Which, of course, makes sense from the perspective of lazy bureaucrats who don’t want to be bothered delivering a service. If nobody asks, then they’re home free.
So, constant vigilance is not enough. If we want our agents of government to work, we’ve got to demand service.
I had a good friend (he died some years ago) who was a firm believer in enthropy, that everything is bound to deteriorate and so there is no point in trying to do anything to stop it (that’s how he explained it), but I thought he was wrong and now I know why. It’s not a matter of stopping deterioration or anything else. What we need to do is initiate action by making demands.
If we want something, we have to ask for it. Those who don’t ask, don’t get.
On the other hand, for some many years now our agents of government have been on a pro-active kick. That is, they have been preaching to each other that they should take the initiative. It’s an appealing notion to the citizenry — that government would operate automatically. But, that’s not how it’s supposed to be. The initiative lies with the citizenry. If they’re not called, the emergency services aren’t supposed to respond. Which tells us that the “silent majority” was really just a desideratum designed to let our public servants loaf on the job.
I think we have to revise our attitude towards petitions. It’s not laws we have to petition for, it’s services. So, the obligations of citizenship would read:
to hold office
to serve on juries
to petition for services
to provide support
to enforce the laws