From firstname.lastname@example.org Mon Aug 11 23:31:02 1997 Message-ID: <33EFD8E8.20D4C282@clark.net> Date: Mon, 11 Aug 1997 23:30:48 -0400 From: klaatu
Organization: Earth Operations Central, 1401 Harvard Street NW #5, Washington DC 20056 X-Mailer: Mozilla 3.01Gold (X11; I; Linux 2.0.27 i486) MIME-Version: 1.0 Newsgroups: dc.general,talk.politics.usa,alt.politics,alt.democracy Subject: Rape of Democracy? Gimme a Break. Content-Type: text/plain; charset=iso-8859-1 Content-Transfer-Encoding: 8bit Apparently-To:
Mayor Marion Barry, recently to a great degree disempowered in the "management" (as if he's done anything other than mismanage for the last 20 years) of the District of Columbia, has been laying down the rhetoric, sloganized in the phrase "rape of democracy".
I believe it was de Tocqueville who noted that there was a fatal flaw at the heart of Democracy, all too similar to the "tragedy of the commons": Eventually the electorate discovers that it can effectively vote itself bread, circuses, tax cuts and exhorbitant spending, and on top of that, it seems that in the District, they discovered that they could, through the glad-handing cronyism of the entrenched Democratic party of Washington, headed by Marion Barry, vote themselves continual employment in positions perfectly suited to rake-offs (so long as they paid out and "danced with th' one what brung 'em"), without having to account for their expenditures, or for that matter, produce a damned thing.
The City of Washington Government had become, by all acounts, not only utterly incompetent, but a veritable "leech upon the neck of America" and at no time was this more evident than in the days immediately preceeding the creation of the District Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority, the "DCFRA" "Control Board".
Lest we forget the conditions which led to the "rape of democracy" (which coming from Mayor Barry in the present conditions is rather amusingly akin to a leather-and-lace dressed prostitute trying to press charges on a "john" who refuses to pay), let's take a trip in the "way-back machine" and take a look at how the city of Washington was unable to pay the dog-catcher, couldn't pay the power bill for the streetlights, couldn't afford paper for the police department, couldn't keep even half of the police cruisers on the street and of those on the street, only half were in "reasonable" states of repair, and of those, only two thirds had functional communications equipment, none of it data nor digital, and none encrypted nor secure in any way whatsoever. Trash was going uncollected, the water was unsafe, the fire department had close to one-half of their facilities or equipment inoperative or in repair (with the repair bills promised but going unpaid) - potholes literally swallowed cars, and the city was in near collapse and within the next year, nearly half of the persons responsible for care of the most desperate and needy of the city's registered voters were to be indicted for pocketing a quarter or more of the funds dedicated to those needy and to have mismanaged in general some 60 percent of the remainder. (On average 30 precent of those funds remain a complete mystery as to disposition.)
It was extremely common for the investigators of the newly formed Control Board to discover that assets purportedly dedicated to this or that worthy cause were being rolled over to cover electoral slush-fund needs or to service debt on the budgets of years long gone. The situation reached total intolerability when three feet of snow completely closed down the Nation's Capitol. Had there been any sort of actual emergency, the situation could have gone from merely grave to utterly disastrous. Only by the mercy of the gods did it not go from laughable to catastrophic. And so the DCFRA was formed and it was clear from the moment of their formation, that Mayor-for-life Marion Barry was on the way out.
They gave him every opportunity and gave him those opportunities for two years. He dragged feet, bitched and moaned, played race cards, dragged out hell-raising preachers, and as a matter of fact has done damned near everything possible to simply refuse to do that which he was elected to do - manage. (Maybe he can't.)
But was he, for that matter, elected to manage?
I say not. Clearly, given the record of his first ten years, the records of his associates, cronies, subordinates, and appointees, he was not elected to manage - he was elected to mismanage!
The voters of the District of Columbia, knowing all-too-well that the government of the District not only fed at the voluminous teat of the Federal government, itself a practical captive of the people of the District, unable to extricate itself from the population of what was originally intended to be a nonresidential administrative District - but extravigantly suckled upon that teat until the teat was about to run dry - were led to the teat and held there by the cronyism and nepotism of the Barry administration, which took de Tocqueville's admonitive warning to heart as a sort of creed of the bloodsucker - the Barry administration sought to assure its primacy and eternity and electability by rewarding _anyone_ with a job, no matter that they could or would actually or not do that job. And thus, for each job and family-member dependant upon that job (or upon other failed policies or promises thereof), an assured vote.
The result? If you lived here you knew: You don't get squat from the District unless you're in bed with the Mayor. And with whom-all was he in bed? Just about everybody.
Rape of democracy?
They say that at a rape trial, right or wrong, the reputation of the victim is as much to be examined as are the actions of the perpetrator. In some states, they have an honest approach to this: any prostitute who remains unpaid is entitled to try their client for rape.
The District government had become, in effect, a colossal flooze. And as of _now_ we're not about Mayor Barry, we're about _the Nation's Capital_ to quote Hizzonner Hisself. When the world looks to Washington, they are seeing America, or they _think_ they are. _Nobody_ wants America to look like a cheap whore flat on her back for anyone who'll give her a treat along with their flop. Well, not any American anyway. But two years ago, anyone who visited Washington long enough to have any idea of exactly what the heck was happening here could come away with only one conclusion - if Washington was flat on her back with her legs spread, it was by choice and only for money, make that cash please though we do take Bank America. No rape about it.
Democracy in the District had fallen wayward by the wayside - Democracy is about freedom of choice, I guess - and I suppose that includes the freedom to be a shameless hussy and to be so publicly and to raise bitchin' hell when restrained from floozin'.
But is it _proper_? De Tocquville did note that particular failure of democracy and the similarity to the tragedy of the commons - and any and all arguments that Mayor Barry or Jesse Jackson for that matter may make about the "rape of democracy" are simply arguing towards a continuation of the tragedy of the commons, about the right of the electorate to disregard common sense and foresightfulness, to vote in whomever will give them tomorrow's supplies today and screw the future and the utilities bills. This isn't entirely about democracy, it's people bitching about the right to continue to _abuse_ democracy, to purely select the single course which alone can make democracy revilable and a subject for entirely appropriate mockery. Democracy in the District has for most of the last 20 years been the history of a choice of paths which lead only to collapse and dissolution.
Our Founding Fathers did have the option of having an unrestrained Democracy, which they noted as later did de Tocqueville: it's a popularity contest. The best way to get elected (and it gets easier as the electorate gets dumber, hmmm wonder why the schools are getting so bad around here...) it to promise a party now and make no mention of the payments later. That's what Mayor Barry has done, and in order to prevent this on a National Scale, the Founding Fathers created such institutions as the Electoral College (later weakened). The intention was that there should be an oversight board which would tend to ameliorate acts of rashness or potential idiocy on the part of the electorate. It would have been better if there were term limits in District elections, with no more than two four-year terms per person. Otherwise, one will all too often see that which we've seen here in the District, enfranchisement for life delivered through payout after payout to anyone who is a long-time party voter or political machine player.
But this falls down under its own weight soon enough.
That's what happened here. Didn't even take that long, only 20 years.
And until it all gets straightened out, and until all of the unfunded pensions mandates and irresponsible laying of backbreaking initial loads on the District can be sorted out and resolved, givng the people of the District a situation that _can_ be properly managed, something you've got a _chance_ to do right, democracy is on hold. Please read Article One Section Eight Paragraph 17 if you have any doubts whatsoever as to the authority. I sure expect that when things have been set right and you've had installed a perfectly-workable and completely modern system not based on corruption and Mobutu-style kleptocracy, nobody will have any problems with democracy - but in my own extremely liberal opinion, martial law has been overdue in the District for at least ten years. And you still haven't got martial law. Just the Control Board, which is after all entirely civilian in formation and nature.
This is no rape of democracy, it's the greater democracy coming to the aid of a smaller democracy (which ordinarily, were it not the city of the Capital District, would simply be left to rot and be abandoned as a lesson in how to _not_ work democracy, for the elucidation of the rest of the electorate) - it's the _temporary_ imposition of more strict rules of order. Rather than having Mayor Barry (or whomever) delegating this or that favor to whomever best pleases (or best slides under the table kickbacks), as an autarch empowered under democratic pretenses, the District Revitalization Act instead limits the power of the autarch, as would a Constitution. Clearly the District was without Checks and Balances, which can lead only to the Tragedy of the Commons and the True Rape of Democracy - when Democracy sheds restraint to wallow in abandon and become a sleaze to all comers as for nearly 20 years the District government has done.
sorry baby, you done got your restraint imposed on ya. Believe me, you might be simple and maybe you don't quite understand but the fact of the matter is, everyone's better off if democracy ain't flat on her back a whorin' like Babylon.
At least if you think of getting screwed as rape, maybe you'll be fighting for what's right instead of doing wrong to line the pocketbook.
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