Saturday, May 29, 2010

Accountability: A Quaint Fantasy

I just got a telephone call asking me if I thought Obama is doing a good job.

"It's not going to matter anyway," I replied, "once the mother ship returns and my Beloved Overlord makes slaves of your entire species."

You can imagine the pollster's response: nothing, since I was being polled by a recording.

Robot calls take the fun out of everything. My grandfather once convinced a telemarketer he could not buy his vacuum cleaner because he had dirt floors.

Ah, the good old days.

Anyways, had I been talking to a live human being, my most honest answer would have been, "How the hell do I know?"

Say what you want about George W. Bush, but at least his incompetence was obvious. He defied common sense in a way everyone could understand.

Going to kill a bunch of innocent people on the other side of the world instead of hunting those who attacked us? I'd rather you didn't.

Giving tax breaks to oil industry cronies? I object.

Taking funding away from schools that don't function well because they're underfunded to begin with? I question your logic, sir.

But with Obama, everything requires outside expertise to form an opinion.

You have your bank bailout. Virtually no one understands economics well enough to know if this was really necessary to avoid a depression.

I wish all the taxpayer money given to banks could have come with more strings attached. At the same time, though, the whole plan seems to have worked. Not only did we avoid a depression, we don't even have a recession. Instead we have an "economic downturn." Phew!

Health care: Everyone agrees it's broken. No one knows how to fix it. Even supporters had to water down their argument to, "some change is better than none."

The oil spill disastrophe -- another shining example of how wonderful things could be if we would only scale back government and let free enterprise do its thing -- is ultimately Obama's fault, right? 

To his credit, Obama has shown himself willing to acknowledge the crude on his hands as this ugly situation drags on, and the best minds available work their way through one futile idea after another, like the Keystone Cops trying to stop a bank robbery in progress.

"I take responsibility," the President says, as if preparing to don SCUBA gear and swim down there himself with a giant cork.

You can blame him for the disaster only if you think one person should have his finger on the job performance on every single federal employee.

He's not a subsurface drilling engineer. He hires people who hire people who hire people, and eventually you get down to the federal regulators watched porn and snorted crack on the job, while they were supposed to be making sure drilling platforms followed safety procedures.

Of course, heads are rolling. But that won't solve the real problem. The next heads won't work any better.

The amount of specialized knowledge in the world is growing exponentially. Layer upon layer of bureaucracy is required for government to keep up. Accountability has become a quaint fantasy.

But there's still cause for hope. The Beloved Overlord is on his way.

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