Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Privileges And Immunities

     Relax, Gentle Reader. This won’t be a seminar on the Fourteenth Amendment and why it embeds a phrase found nowhere else in the Constitution. No, today I’m thinking about privileged groups, the immunities they’ve acquired that others don’t share, and the general numbness to their privileged status.

     There are several such groups in Western society today. In these United States, the most important ones to know about in your daily struggles to cope are:

  • Homosexuals,
  • Negroes,
  • Muslims,
  • Women.

     The privileges these groups own confer considerable ability on their members to acquire benefits they don’t deserve. Their immunities allow them to avert punishment and general opprobrium they do deserve. Clearly, these are precious properties whose owners would hate to lose them. A great deal of time, money, and effort goes into retaining and increasing them.

     It’s unnecessary for me to go into great gouting detail about the specifics of each group’s privileges and immunities. Any Gentle Reader of Liberty’s Torch will already be familiar with them from reading the news if not from personal contact. No, the action for today is in the mechanisms that were used to acquire those properties, and continue to work to strengthen and enlarge them.

     Concentration is the key to economic results. No other principle of effectiveness is violated as constantly today as the basic principle of concentration.... Our motto seems to be, "Let's do a little bit of everything." – Peter Drucker

     Drucker, a writer on business and commerce, had those subjects in mind when he wrote the above. However, the principle of concentration applies to every area of human endeavor. He who cannot or will not concentrate on a goal is unlikely to achieve it. This principle powers the inclination to specialize in some field, giving it the greater part of our time and energy. Note how few “Renaissance men” there are with seven-digit incomes.

     The acquisition of privileges and immunities is subject to the principle of concentration. If a group, however defined, is to acquire such, there must be a mechanism that focuses specifically on that goal, eschewing other considerations. Each privileged / immunized group named in the above possesses one or more such mechanisms. I call such a mechanism a mouthpiece group.

     A mouthpiece group serves to concentrate the time, money, and effort that goes toward securing and enlarging the privilege or immunity it addresses. In that effort, it:

  • Solicits funding,
  • Hires specialists,
  • Builds social and political relationships with useful persons and organizations.

     The funding is normally put to the salaries of the specialists, though in some cases it’s used to purchase influence or alliances. The specialists concentrate on relationships:

  • With the mouthpiece group’s supporters, to keep them loyally contributing;
  • With other organizations that can lend effort to the mouthpiece group’s goal;
  • With governmental institutions that can grant official recognition to the privilege or immunity.

     A mouthpiece group formed around an identity won’t necessarily be effective in promoting its goals. If its members lack passion, have several goals, or diverge about priorities, it will fail to benefit from the concentration principle, a statement that verges on tautology. However, several identity-based groups have succeeded in specializing sufficiently to become effective; the four enumerated in the opening segment are the most prominent ones.

     This is Public Choice economics in operation: a coherent, highly motivated group with a short agenda has far more effective social power than a looser coalition with distributed priorities and a broad agenda. That’s why the special interest groups have consistently outplayed those of us who merely prize freedom. Note that there are few successful broadly pro-freedom organizations. The most successful of them have been groups that address a single facet of the pro-freedom agenda, such as the National Rifle Association.

     An important digression: Note how little success in the struggle to retain our freedom has arisen from efforts by the Republican Party. The GOP’s platform gives a lot of lip service to freedom and limited government, but nearly always fails to deliver. This demonstrates the results we can expect from ignoring the concentration principle. Indeed, the problem is compounded by the existence of groups unfriendly to freedom and limited government within the GOP. Their concentration on creating, retaining, and enlarging specific privileges and immunities for particular constituencies gives them more effective power than the party itself.

     The salient point about mouthpiece groups is that they’re the point of the spear. They determine the success or failure of the effort. Others who want to defeat their efforts must focus as tightly on defeating the sought-after privilege or immunity as they do on acquiring and perpetuating it:

  • “Gay rights” mouthpiece groups must be opposed by specifically anti-gay-rights groups.
  • Mouthpiece groups dedicated to promoting “affirmative action” or exemptions from criminal justice for black lawbreakers must be opposed by groups specifically focused on defeating those goals.
  • CAIR, ISNA, and similar mouthpiece groups for Muslims must be opposed by groups specifically focused on denying special privileges to Muslims.
  • NOW, the National Abortion Rights Action League, and similar mouthpiece groups for “women’s rights” must be opposed by groups specifically focused on denying special privileges to women.

     There are special problems to be solved in each case. Among the most important of them is linguistic hijacking. Each identity group has harnessed a powerful word -- rights -- to its service, and has flogged that word until most Americans can’t even begin to frame an argument for why the proposed “right” isn’t any such thing, but rather a privilege or an immunity. This is a critical factor in the public struggle.

     A second, equally important problem is that of the “iron triangle.” A privilege or immunity once gained will thereafter collect defenders:

  • Bureaucrats: Those who operate The System;
  • Vendors: Those who sell to The System;
  • Beneficiaries: Those who receive direct transfers of wealth and privileges from The System.

     They are usually about as well motivated as the mouthpiece groups themselves. They will support the mouthpiece groups with monetary contributions, volunteer effort, and (when possible) their votes. The triangles that assist in the defense of the privileges and immunities of the four identity groups enumerated in the opening segment are particularly firm. They include many Civil Service employees.

     It will take more than a thousand-word essay to delineate the strategic and tactical problems involved. But perhaps the above will serve to launch the discussion.


daniel_day said...

The power of Civil Service employees could and should be reduced by a policy that the maximum length of a career* in CS is 10 years**, with no retirement package. Knowing that you'll be back in the private employment realm, living under the regulations you wrote and enforced and forking over the taxes that pay CS employees' salaries, will moderate the enthusiasm for empire-building, new regulations and big benefits packages.
Knowing you'll hand off whatever power you accrued during your CS career to someone else will change your attitude toward that power.
Departing employees who had learned no useful skills would find themselves in difficulties finding new jobs in the private realm. Such stories would also incline the CS system toward teaching its employees real skills beyond rote memorization of procedures and legal requirements.
* There might be careers where longer limits might be more productive, such as Foreign Service.
** The number 10 is arbitrary, but I don't think the maximum should be lengthened much, as this would begin to justify retirement packages in at least some people's eyes.

Avraham said...

you have clearly put thought into the above mentioned problems. it is cheering my heart to see that someone has done some serious thinking on these matters. i hope you have success in all your endeavors.